Living by the two-dollar-a-meal rule

There are a lot of rules in An Insider’s Guide: always read your readings; start assignments as soon as you get them; include at least ten references for each assignment. But one of the most important rules isn’t to do with academic success. It’s the two-dollar-a-meal rule.

My copy editor wanted me to cut it out. Two dollars a meal? Crazy! While I followed her professional judgement about a lot of things, in this instance I held my ground. The two-dollar-a-meal rule is not only totally doable, it’s one of the most important rules for a student to follow. So, how do you do it? Easy. Follow these 10 simple steps:

1) Have breakfast before you leave the house. A couple of slices of toast or some cereal costs nothing and stops you getting crazy hankerings for coffee and chocolate later in the morning.
2) Make your own. Cereal, soup, hummus, biscuits and sauces are all heaps nicer, healthier and cheaper when you make them yourself.
3) Pack your lunch. Sandwiches are cheap, healthy and awesome.
4) Shop at Pac’N’Save. Swallow your pride and do it.
5) Only buy stuff on sale.
6) Set a weekly shopping budget, and stick to it. $2 x 3 meals=$6. $6 x 7 days=$42. With a bit more for non-food items, $50 a week for yourself is totally doable. Then make what you’ve bought last a whole week. If you’re running out of food, bust out those 2-minute noodles and tins of spaghetti that are lurking at the back of the pantry and wait until shopping day.
7) Don’t follow recipes. Just use what you’ve got to make a meal.
8) Keep meat to a minimum. Learn to love beans, lentils, chickpeas and eggs. Learn how to imagine that mushroom is like steak.
9) Cook in bulk. Cook up a big load of pasta sauce, or soup, or lasagna, then separate it into portions and freeze them.
10) Pasta, potatoes or rice. Every day. You can’t afford to be picky.

And always remember – there is such a thing as a free lunch and, as a student, it’s your job to always find it.

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