Volume 96, Issue 68
Thursday, January 30, 2003

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Starving students saved
Experts offer healthy tips

By Kasia Iglinski
Gazette Staff

As the year wears on, it becomes harder and harder to watch the steady flow of money coming out of your bank account. When you are trying to balance the payments on your electricity bills and still find something edible to eat, some of these simple tips may help you stretch that last dollar.

There are the traditional tips of making a grocery list and buying in bulk, yet somehow students still end up broke and starving.

For those of us who still have trouble cutting that grocery bill in half, Alicia Garcia, associate professor in food and nutrition at Brescia University College, recommends buying fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. "If they aren't, I would recommend getting them canned or frozen," Garcia explained.

"Buying a whole chicken, for example, as opposed to just pieces of it, also helps save money," she said. "If you buy parts of a chicken [just the breast of chicken], you end up paying for the labour to cut and skin it. If you can do this yourself, it will also help you save money on groceries."

If skinning a chicken doesn't appeal to you, try buying chicken legs or thighs instead of the breast. "Chicken thighs and legs are a little higher in fat content. However, if you are really trying to save on money, they are still a good option," said Heather Thomas, the Middlesex-London Health Unit's public dietician.

Thomas recommended staying away from convenience items. "Things like Lipton's SideKicks tend to be more expensive than making them from scratch. They are also much higher in sodium content, making them a less healthy alternative."

Buying plain cereals, as opposed to sugar cereals, can also cut costs – not only are they better for you, they tend to be cheaper.

"Planning ahead is also very important to cutting the cost of your grocery bill," Garcia said. She recommends that students plan out their meals for an entire week before going to the grocery store. With this approach, students will only buy items that they will use, ensuring that the three bags of milk they bought last month don't end up sour and sitting in the back of their fridge until they move out.

Stocking up on pasta, rice, legumes and canned food, can also help you avoid those desperate situations when your roommate's moldy cheese starts to look appetizing.

"One time, when we had nothing in the house, I started snacking on croutons," admits fourth-year media, information and technoculture and film student Matt Heuther. "Saltines and mayo is another good snack when you have nothing left."

Ensuring you have a well-stocked cupboard of dried foods can help avoid those kinds of situations. "Pasta is a great thing to stock up on because it is so versatile," Garcia explained.

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2002 THE GAZETTE