Keeping the Cash Firmly in Pocket

In these haggard times, all are called to scratch at the earth and tighten their belts. Broke-as-dirt college students are no different. Therefore, one must develop tricks and stratagems for holding on to every last dollar. This semester, most of my tricks for saving money have revolved around food.
Everyone needs food. Freshman USF students may have the golden life-raft of Flexi, but some run out while older students opt out of the plan entirely. The simplest answer is a diet of Ramen and tap water, but that is hardly healthy. So how do I keep my cheeks full of color and my wallet full of cash? With four rules I have developed over the span of the semester.
First rule of cheap eats: freeze. Freeze like Batman has just uncovered your secret marijuana garden. In most places, fruits and vegetables are much cheaper frozen than fresh. These veggies keep longer and are often more nutritious because they were frozen at the peak of ripeness. So, stock up on frozen fruits and veggies. If one prefers frozen food of a more Lean Cuisine variety, then keep a hawk eye out for sales, as those little boxes can really add up.
The second rule of dining on the cheap: make friends with the grocers. If you and the guy at Lucky’s are totally BFFs, there is a far greater chance he can alert you of sales or when food is marked down. You save money and make a casual friend, hurrah!
Third rule: go local. Ok, some of those farmers one sees outside Union Square are exhortation artists. Unless that persimmon cures cancer, I am not paying three dollars for it. But other times, buying local food is cheaper because of far lesser shipping charges. Ergo, scout out nearby farmers’ markets. This might be a good opportunity to call up your Lucky’s buddy to see if Farmer Joe will be laughing all the way to the bank.
And the fourth rule: bulk it up. Grab some friends and split the cost for a huge box of oatmeal. It will be far cheaper than just one person buying several normal boxes. Or, if the food will keep for a long time, skip the friends and just hope your roommate doesn’t mind the boxy new coffee table.
The economy has put strain on my daily routine. I love to cook, and so having to refrain from cooking because of money is supremely irritating. Now when I go into a grocery store, I focus only on essentials. I also have a balance game with Flexi—how many self-made meals I eat versus trips to the cafeteria. Yet, in these troubled times, I have learned to be resourceful, to not settle for less than the absolute best deal. And I have far more respect for large families.

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