Eating on a Budget

Sometimes backpackers, myself included, believe we’re slightly more than human. However true that statement is, there is one fact that we all obey. We have to eat. Now we’ve all been there, opting to skip a meal in order to save some money for recreational activities, perhaps a bus ticket, maybe a flight, or just trying to make up for the bad decisions you made after blowing your budget while you were drunk. Face it, it happens.

There are ways to make the act of eating less of a burden on your wallet. From budget supermarkets, to simple tips and tricks to save food, I’ll do my best to list them all. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat, or indulge in that gourmet pizza being served next door, I’m just saying that in certain circumstances, eating is a privilege.

First stop, your local budget supermarket. Canada is packed to the nines with mass supermarkets. They can be an eyesore, due to the fact that you see them in every city, but despite they’re tyrannical crusade across the world, they can help if you’re in penny-pinching mode.

eating on a budgetFirst off – The Real Canadian Superstore – Easily identifiable as the big ugly green store. They can be found in almost every major city, and offer weekly discounts, coupons, and occasionally samples (freebies!). Keep in mind, however, these guys will charge you for the plastic bags, so be green, and cheap, bring your own bags or backpack to pack your goods in. Remember to look around the front entry for free coupons or flyers with coupons in them as they can help save a couple bucks (enough for your next Tim Hortons fix)

Then there is Safeway – Yet another chain supermarket consuming North America. However, if you’re the owner of an Airmiles card, they dish out pretty good rewards. So keep an eye out on what you’re buying. It might help finance your next trip. Once again, watch for coupons and flyers as they can help out a bit.

Lastly, check out Giant Tiger, this is the ultimate place to find discount foods. You giant_tiger_03 won’t find these ones often or as easy as the prior two. But Google it, or check the Yellowpages in whichever major city centre you’re in, and you’re sure to find one. Food is drastically cheaper here, and will definitely save you enough for your next pint.

Alright, so you find yourself in the entrance of a store filled with hundreds of isles full of food, now what? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’re broke, and want food thats going to keep you full, and not break the bank. So below is a list of foods that are high in satiety index – which is fancy science talk for “Keepin’ you full longer”.

  • White Potatoes (The Highest!!! French Fries/Chips don’t count, sorry)
  • Eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Beans
  • Whole Grain Bread (50% longer lasting than its white brethren)
  • Rice
  • Popcorn (Twice as filling as a chocolate bar or peanuts)

Keep in mind however, that despite filling you up, and being relatively good on your budget, there is a reason people call tasty foods, “Food for the soul” – eating on budgetIf you’re having a downer of a day, indulge, keep sane, sometimes a little comfort food is enough to lift the spirits. I, personally, take Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce everywhere I go. Rice is bland…Chilli it! Hate the taste of eggs…Chilli it! Sandwiches boring you…Chilli it! Oatmeal tasting like cardboard…Chilli It! You get the point.

If you’re with a group of other starving backpackers, get everyone to chip in a couple bucks, and make huge meal for everyone. If they hate you’re cooking, tell them to “Chilli it!” Food shouldn’t be a chore, and something you dread, find ways to make the best out of what you’ve got. Some of the greatest chefs in the world came from poor families, who grew up learning to make the best out of a bad situation. Learn from them, experiment, and have fun!

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