Three Sustainable Food Hacks for the Student on a Budget


Everybody has heard by now that they need to be living a “more sustainable lifestyle,” and as a student who lives on a tight budget, I know that can often be hard to do. For example, I can’t afford the new and trendy reusable beeswax wraps for my leftovers! It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to a sustainable lifestyle, so I’ve listed three of the easiest (and quickest) food hacks that I have implemented into my life to live cleaner and more sustainably on a budget.

Start a broth bag

I cook a lot. I’ve always loved to cook, especially with vegetables. I would compost my food scraps, the city of Ottawa would take it away, and that was the end of it. However, I always felt like I wasn’t getting the most out of my food scraps, so I started collecting them in a large ziplock bag in my freezer. When winter comes around, I always crave a hearty soup. Still, vegetables are so expensive, and making a vegetable broth takes so many prime vegetables that it almost seems like a waste. This is where my so-called “broth bag” comes in. I have collected a whole season’s worth of vegetable butts and scraps to make as much broth as possible in my largest pot. This makes the healthiest, cheapest, easiest, and most delicious soup broth you’ll ever eat.

Pack a lunch from home

On the subject of food, it’s no secret that eating out every day can add up. I find it very important to budget in one or two meals out a month so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on social gatherings with my friends or the opportunity to try new places that open in town. I know that grocery prices have been rising to astronomical heights, but the effort to cook from home simply has to be made. Simple sandwiches like peanut butter and jam (which is seriously underrated by the way), cream cheese and olives (a personal favourite combination), or just classic bologna and cheese are some of the quickest sandwiches to make from home. Throw an orange and a pre-prepped bag of cut vegetables as some snacks throughout the day and you’ll be good to go with a decently healthy and cheap lunch. 

Get a second (and sometimes a third) crop from your veggies! 

Since food, especially produce, is so expensive at the grocery store, I always grow a second crop of most of my produce. Romaine lettuce, green onions, and carrots (if they still have the green leaves) are three of the easiest to grow. While organic carrots (usually the only ones with the leaves still attached to the top) tend to be more expensive, the satisfaction of growing a second vegetable from the original vegetable you bought is unparalleled. The only thing you need to buy to pull this off is a bag of soil, and Dollarama sells decently sized bags of potting soil! For planting pots, I use either old mushroom containers and pop some holes into the bottom, empty cans, or planting pots that I’ve collected from the uOttawa Free Store. I put any of those options on a plate to catch the drainage as I water it, and I’m good to go!

I know that it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough to live sustainably, especially with the cost of living in Ottawa being as high as it is. So, I’ve offered you a few simple and cheap steps to take in your everyday life toward living more sustainably. These are all tips I’ve implemented into my own life and have done nothing but make me live a better life.

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