How to eat well and save well

How to eat well and save well
10 May 2012

IF WE are what we eat, then why aren’t we rich? It’s no secret that we are a generation that enjoys eating out. On average, we eat out at least once a week, not counting drinks with friends or coffee dates.

And we’re not ignorant as to how much it drains our finances, so why do we keep continuing to facilitate for a lifestyle that we can’t afford? Whatever the reason, no-one ever saved money by not heeding good advice.

Here are a couple of top tips I’ve picked up by eating through my own budget and digging myself out the hard way...

Go back to pack

Packed lunches aren’t just for school! I’ve saved countless dirhams by taking my own lunch into work or college. All it takes is a little planning ahead.

Often this is better for you as you get to design your own meal and balance out carbs and sugar to make sure you don’t hit the 4pm crash; a sandwich from the canteen for lunch is just fine, but don’t you find that by late afternoon you’re hungry again?

So eat savvy, and save! A pot of hummus and raw veggies works great as a supplement to your meal and will leave you feeling fuller for longer. Pack granola bars, a bag of almonds or pistachios or an apple as ‘grazing’ snacks to stave off those cravings to splurge.

Plan your meals

A weekly menu might sound a little much for the student lifestyle. You’re young! You want to go out with your friends, microwave meals and not worry about thinking that far ahead!

But, trust me, the results on your grocery bill after doing just one week of this will shock you. Make a meal plan for every breakfast, lunch and dinner of the week, accounting for snacks, drinks and any extras. Draw up a list of the ingredients you need. Buy only what is on the list and you’ve already saved yourself countless dirhams spent on ‘top ups’ from the supermarket.

This technique is also great for sticking to dietary requirements, following a healthier eating regime or just making sure you get your five-a-day.

Deal with it

Cobone and LivingSocial are just a few of the many voucher sites springing up in the Middle East and UAE. I’m all in favour of a great deal, but remember not to get carried away. A savvy approach to voucher shopping is to ask yourself is this a purchase I might make at full price?

If you and your friends wouldn’t dream of hitting up the Cavalli Club, why make the exception because it’s 50% off? Or if you don’t like Thai food but the offer is for a Thai takeout for two, don’t let the allure of getting a great deal blind you.

Find new ways to eat

Eating out is a great way to spend time with family and friends, but eating in can be just as fun. And no, we don’t mean take out!

Why not throw a party in your dorm room or apartment and invite a bunch of friends to cook with you? Or better yet, host a ‘bring your own plate’ dinner and share your concoctions with each other!

You’ll end up paying a whole lot less and, believe me, this is the quickest and most effective way to find out who amongst your friends is the hidden Gordon Ramsay. Now you know who’s house to run to when your microwave or oven mysteriously ‘stops working’.

Another fun idea is to pick different courses and share your dinner on Thursday night – two people handle the starter, two the main, two the dessert. A little bit of money from a few people goes a long way.

So there you have it my friends – eating well, saving well – two concepts not entirely estranged from one another. All you need is a little planning, a little creativity and a lot of stretchy pants for those stuffed bellies!

Pic credit: worradmu/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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cashy/ Campus Cashy
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