Are you living on a tight budget this year? Constantly searching for the cheapest options and best deals? Roaming the aisles of the grocery store doing choppy math in your head? Concordia graduate Jonathan Lemieux may have the solution for you.
Living off a food budget of $75 a month and too ashamed to ask for money from his parents to supplement what the loans and bursaries wouldn’t, Lemieux began living off of food from the Dollarama, and did so for nearly three years. About 90 per cent of his groceries came from Dollarama.
Lemieux found it too expensive to shop at grocery stores. By the time he had finished his second degree at Concordia, he had collected around 90 Dollarama based recipes, which he recently published in a cookbook, Survivre avec une poignee de change.
As innovative as this may seem, is the solution really to limit yourself to dollar store canned food?
There is no shame in purchasing staples at bargain prices. Beans tend to be beans no matter where you buy them. However, there have been some concerns raised about a primarily canned food diet. There are plenty of alternatives when it comes to saving money on food, ones that may be a lot healthier in the long run.
It’s understood that frozen fruits and veggies are much cheaper, but if you’re looking for something a little more fresh, there’s always the growing fad of dumpster diving. Yes, it’s a little gooey, and you’ll have to get past that smell, but it can wield several meals worth of fresh fruit and veggies. A recent dive taken by one student provided him with “potatoes, red and white onions, red and white radish, eggplant, carrots, and corn.”
If you’re not quite comfortable with digging through trash, there is always the market right around the corner. Jean Talon market is open every day except for major holidays, and the fruits and veggies are relatively cheap. A basket, which often has around seven pieces in it, often goes for two to five dollars.
In terms of price alone, it is only slightly cheaper to buy off brand dollar food. Items like pasta sauce and rice can be cheaper at the dollar-store, but can often be bought in bulk and prove better deal-wise at the grocer.
Provigo and Loblaws provide daily deals at individual locations, and are very easy to come upon online. And above all, Supermarche PA tends to be the cheapest, often beating out Dollarama prices. Bread comes to the same price, though you’ll find name brand bread at PA for the same $2 as the non-brand Dollarama bread. And chickpeas, a staple in Lemieux’s recipes, go for 99 cents for a 30-ounce can at PA. Dollarama offers a can half the size for the same price.
There is always, of course, People’s Potato, on campus every day for free food.
Considering all of these things, and with a little work, you’ll likely be able to avoid spiking your salt, fat, and cholesterol. Though Lemieux claimed to never fall ill because of his diet, it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt him in the long run, as some dietitians have been noting upon the release of the cookbook.