I was totally going to make something for this week, but I disappeared to Lewisburg over the weekend to meet my baby ducklings (THEY ARE ADORABLE) and life got busy (so what else is new), and let’s face it–one of my favorite desserts of all time still has to be Soupervan’s Apple Nachos…so here’s my copycat recipe! (Click the picture for the recipe!)
…and since no one ever seems to believe my brother when he tells people that I’ve been living pretty effing comfortably on <$10k per year since around 2006, I figured I’d also share how I survive/thrive on $50/month for food. :]
Other than tuition ($50k/year, hooray hooray!), that $10k includes absolutely everything (rent, groceries, boards licensing exams, traveling to/from conferences and/or vacations, you name it). There was actually one glorious year where $10k actually covered tuition too because scholarships and grants are wonderful things. <3!
Back in the day, I had a bunch of side jobs to fund my livelihood (e.g. teaching piano, being an accompanist, tutoring, working at the music library, being a research subject, selling my belongings)…
…But ever since the start of grad school and then med school, the possibility of holding down a job has kinda plummeted into nothingness.
I wrote a rather comprehensive post on frugal living tips I’ve been living by, but here’s one on just the food!
Stock your pantry with healthy food staples.
This is what I like to keep stocked in my pantry. I’m definitely not saying that I have all of these in my apartment at any given time, but the list provides a good sense of the things I’ll typically buy.
Stocking up at Costco before I started med school was a must. My most current “$50/Month For Food” spree started after I made an initial $250 Costco trip back in July of 2012, before I started medical school.
I buy seasonal fruits/veggies, and if nothing fresh looks all that wonderful, I go for frozen. Kroger also has a “discounted fruit/veggie” bin where all the riper bananas, noncomformist-shaped apples, etc. go, and I tend to snatch up the ones that are still perfectly fine.
Maximize free food opportunities.
But where do I go to do that, you ask?
- Club meetings
- Bartering skills/chores
- Blog giveaways
- Food fundraisers
- School functions/events (e.g. International Festival / Casino Night)
- Church potlucks
- Drug rep lunches
- Volunteering at races
- Sponsored posts that offer food (e.g. most recently, Plum Almond Toast + Beef Enchilada Bowls)
- Friends with hens = free eggs!
- Physician/Resident lounge
Just to be clear, I am not advocating that you pilfer food from all these places without giving anything in return. (Translation: please be a decent human being. >_> ) I contributed to all of these events by volunteering + making food for them, and with church, I sing + play piano for em’.
For that last one, it really depends on my preceptor, but almost all of them have been pretty wonderful. <3
Once upon a time, I even wrote a proposal to my grad school for funding on a class dinner to foster camaraderie and good relations + get to know everyone in our class. (I pitched this in March/April-ish and we graduated in May. >_> ) It worked though, and we had a pretty awesome time. 😀 When you are dirt-poor and living on imaginary money (student loans), you learn to be creative.
You know what beats awesome food? Awesome food with great company!
Another way I saved a ton of money on food without sacrificing food variety and/or quality is through our potluck group–We D.O. Food. In the first two years of med school, we’d have monthly-ish get-togethers where all of us would make a dish and convene to pig/hang out.
Make your own meals + food prep!
Now that we’ve been scattered across the state(s), we don’t get to do our potlucks as often anymore but I try to get together on weekends with my friend to meal prep for the week!
Don’t go out to eat.
I rarely ever go out to eat because all those meals add up quickly, and I like making my own food. 😀 (It’s also healthier.).
On the offchance that I do go out to eat, however (once a month-ish, maybe?), I order water instead of a drink to help cut costs, and scout out the menu beforehand to see if there’s something semi-healthy + not too expensive that I can get.
Coupons/Grocery Store Apps
I mostly do my grocery shopping at Kroger (sometimes Aldi). Kroger has a free app where you can automatically download coupons that will automatically be applied when you check out your items. I save money by…
- Exclusively shopping the sales (manager’s specials, “last call” items, and reduced-price fruits/veggies make my world go round)
- Maximizing on the personalized coupons for free/discounted products they give me on products I’d normally buy
- Getting free products on Fridays (they have a different product each week that you can download a coupon for!)
- Filling out the customer feedback survey (4 surveys at one per week saves me 20 cents off per gallon of gas)
- They’re also doing a 2x-point special on weekends right now (through August!), so spending $50 in one month altogether on the weekends will get you an extra 10 cents off per gallon!
That being said, I’ve actually only spent $20 since the start of April because I’m on another grocery ban/mission to eat everything in my apartment before I buy anything new. Half of that was to get my surgery preceptor a present + to buy heavily-discounted sunscreen (it’s skin cancer awareness month!). Let’s see if I can last til June! :O
- What’s your favorite healthy dessert?
- About how much do you spend per month on food/groceries?
- What tips do you have for saving money on food?