Food in the Belly, Money in the Pocket

Saving money isn’t hard. One just has to know the facts and stick to a routine. One of The Plant writers experiences saving money by making a lunch everyday.

by Melina Giubilaro

Everybody wants to save money these days because one no longer knows how to control his or her spending habits. It seems we’ve   become clueless about how much money we spend throughout the week. However, if you’ve been  wondering why your paycheck can’t pay all of your bills or if you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, the solution may be simpler than you might think.

“I think a lot of us like to buy food because it’s accessible,” said second semester Psychology student Genevieve L’Espérance, “but we don’t realize how much we’re spending until we sit down and write it all down.”

After being so frustrated at myself for never having money in my bank account, I decided to save all my receipts from everything I purchased for a month and found out I was spending 50% of my salary on restaurant food. What surprised me was that I wasn’t the only one that was unaware of how much money I was spending only at restaurants.

“90% of my salary is spent on food,” said second semester Social Science student Michael Muzzo. “Even if I bring a lunch, I still go to Alexis Nihon and buy something to eat because I’m constantly hungry.”

My mission was to stop buying food for a week. Whether it was a water bottle or a pack of gum, I could buy nothing. Every night I packed three snacks, a meal and a reusable water bottle for lunch the next day.

“It’s very easy to spend $10 a day on food,” second semester Graphic Design student Robin Kurtz said. “Especially since we have a mall with a big food court that supplies to most people’s taste buds.”

According to the United Student Experience report, students spend an average of $40 a week on food. Food is a priority in a college student’s life. Eating out and eating healthy can cost a lot of money and if one doesn’t take the time to   consider saving money it may lead to serious financial problems.

“I used up all my saving  account,” said fourth semester  Languages student Shaquilla Howe-White. “I sometimes make my own lunch but it takes time so it’s just easier to buy a lunch.”

“I spend about $40 to $70 a week on food. I basically work to buy food.” Second semester Social  Science student Alexia Serfas said. “I don’t know why, but I’m too lazy to make a lunch. I always forget and I always wake up late.”

“Sometimes I spend more throughout the day because I also go out for supper with my friends after a late class,” Serfas added.

Food is essential but can be expensive if bought at restaurants all the time. One can save a lot of money by doing things like making your own sandwiches for lunch rather than buying them. A loaf of bread itself costs $2.99, which is cheaper than a shop-bought    sandwich that can easily add up to approximately $10.00 with a trio. Buying in bulk can also be much cheaper. With one loaf of bread you can make several sandwiches for a third of the price of a shop-bought one.

“I bring my lunch twice a week,” said second semester Languages student Amanda Pizzolongo. “By doing so, it helps me save some money. I also think it’s a great way to save money other than trying to stop shopping.”

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have time to make a lunch, try saving money on smaller  purchases. You might be one of those people who probably spends money on coffee. Your daily latte, cappuccino or mocha will vary from $2.50 or $3.50. This routine will cost $17.50 a week, $70 a month and $280 a year. That’s a lot of money for coffee.

“I make my coffee at home. I officially started drinking coffee a couple of years ago so I had no idea [how much it cost to make it at home],” laughed Carrie Markin Physical Education teacher and  registered dietician. “A mocha costs $4,50 at a coffee shop.  I’m like ‘Are you kidding me?’ I can buy [all the ingredients] for $4,50.”

“I don’t know if this is really accurate but standing in line is just as time consuming as preparing a sandwich five minutes before you leave the house. Planning ahead would be one option,” explained Physical Education teacher Virginia R. Bradley-Malcolm. “Motivation is key. Having variety in what you eat makes you aware of what you’re  actually eating.”

According to The Daily Mail, one of the 50 best ways to save money is, believe it or not, by bringing your food to the workplace. If TV chefs can knock up a meal from a bag of random groceries so can you. For instance, take your chicken cutlet from last night, chop it up and add it to your salad for lunch.

“Taking five minutes the night before to make a sandwich can save your pocket a lot of stress, in my experience. Since I am a student with ten courses plus homework, jobs aren’t all that easy to keep,” Kurtz explained.

I initially started this project by bringing my lunch for a week. I brought snacks from home like   yogurt, granola bars, jello,  fruits and raw vegetables. I always carried a re-usable water bottle. Sandwiches and salads were what I usually ate for lunch. A week later, I realized that I liked the new way I was eating and the money I was saving so I continued bringing my lunch to school.

As the weeks progressed, I spiced up my lunches. For example, I changed my boring chicken, tomato and salad sandwich to a honey-mustard or curry chicken sandwich. The days I knew I had to stay out all day I brought two meals and added two more snacks. If I did eat a salad for lunch, I would carry a tupperware meal (last night’s supper) for supper the next day.

“It’s horrible now that I think of it because I live right across the street [from school] and I still don’t bother going home [to a fridge that’s full,]” L’Esperance said.

After one month of preparing my lunches ahead of time, I saved over $250. The trick is to start by bringing snacks. By doing so you can save $10 a week, $40 a month. Break the Starbucks habit and bring your own coffee.

Lastly, try bringing your lunch to school several times a week and save $50 a week, $200 a month. Today, I continue bringing my snacks and lunches to school. Needless to say there will be days where I will buy a lunch but I’ll never forget to bring my essentials: snacks, water bottle and coffee.

“I don’t think students will stop buying lunches,” said Physical Education teacher Tim Miller. “However, by going to IGA and buying something healthy in bulk like carrots and hummus can be a lot cheaper and healthier as well.”

“It’s about changing your habits and that’s a hard thing for people to do,” Markin said. “You definitely have to want to do it to make the change.”


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