As an AU student, we may have priorities ranging from working part-time to completing our degrees while supporting a dependent. And one of the largest housekeeping chores is grocery shopping to maintain a healthy and varied diet. However, certain times of the year, including midterm and final exam season, many students may not have the time to complete this essential task. Hence, we’re left with little choice but to resort to processed foods that store for longer but are packed with sodium and preservatives. So how do we cut down our grocery store trips without sacrificing the quality of our diet? Here are some simple steps that can help to make sure your body is as nourished as your mind during those busy times.
Before a busy period when I’m can foresee grocery-shopping being at the bottom of my to-do list, I like to list all the grocery items I need for the upcoming two or three weeks. Making a list helps avoid unnecessary trips to the supermarket. Another tip to improve efficiency is to group grocery items by meals. For example, list all the ingredients you require for your spaghetti dinner together so no items are missed.
In studies comparing the nutrient value of frozen, canned, and fresh fruits and veggies, researchers found that frozen and canned fruits and veggies were equally nutritious as their fresh counterparts (Miller, 2014). Hence for the budget-sensitive and busy student, stocking up on frozen and canned veggies could mean making less trips to the supermarket.
There’s no doubt that dried herbs can add to the aroma, texture and nutrient value of fresh herbs. However, having an ample supply of dried herbs means you can save yourself the trip to the grocery store, but also produce less waste. For example, very often, when I come home with a bundle of parsley, I often only use a small portion. The next week I am left with parsley enough to feed a family for three meals. This conundrum could be easily avoided with the use of dried herbs. For students who wish to be not only efficient but cost-effective, stock up on dried herbs when they are on sale – you will never know when you need it.
Start your own home garden
While this may seem challenging, the amount of time maintaining a home garden is actually minimal if done properly. Making use of my old yogurt containers, I was able to maintain a small herb garden using leftover garlic, ginger, and onions from my kitchen. Place these under an LED light and watch your home garden flourish. Every morning before breakfast, I like to water my plants. However, when I am away on vacation or during a busy period, attaching a string between the soil and a bucket of water helps water the plants with no effort on my part.
Photo credit: Heather Ford
Miller, S. R., & Knudson, W. A. (2014). Nutrition and cost comparisons of select canned, frozen, and fresh fruits and vegetables. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 8(6), 430-437.