By Kathryn Clark, Gradlife Ambassador
Let’s face it, grad school is expensive. Even if we’re lucky enough to be in a program that provides funding, chances are we’re still going to be looking for ways to “tighten our belts”, so to speak. After all, we all know that even the best funding doesn’t cover all of our costs. Between rent in Toronto (which is, real talk, too darn high!), transportation costs (even the student discount on the metro pass means we’re paying over a grand a year on ttc alone), groceries, textbooks (and all the other paraphernalia that comes with being in school), clothes, doctors’ visits (hopefully our new PM will make that better! Wink wink), phone bills, gas & electricity, and so much more, the struggle is real.
Out of that LONG LIST that could really go on forever, a main money stress point is food. We probably all have schedules that need 2 day-planners and a google calendar linked to our phones to stay on top of. The last thing we want to think about is carving out time to trek to the grocery store to stock up on food for the week…not to mention packing lunches every day! Sometimes, it’s just not feasible to pack a “to-go” when you’re running out the door with your keys in one hand and coffee in the other (or maybe you’re heading to Tims?). So, what do we do when this happens? We do what any other self-respecting university student does: we get take out.
More often than not, we’ll find ourselves at cafes or fast food joints because, let’s face it, they’re quick and easy and can be squeezed into that crazy schedule. Over time though, these quick stops add up to HUGE amount of money better spent elsewhere.
A few quick numbers to make you go, “ugh”. On average, we spend about 15 dollars a day on food and drink. That adds up to 450 dollars a month, 5400 dollars a year. And that’s just if you’re only spending 15 bucks a day. What happens when you add up those more expensive options?
Done letting that settle in? Good, let’s all take a deep breath and get down to it. We all know it’s not realistic to say we won’t ever eat out again, but we CAN cut down on how much we’re spending on those meals out. Without any further ado, here’s a list of cheap eats that won’t make you feel guilty for ignoring your full fridge, or for not having a full fridge:
El Furniture Warehouse on Bloor: all food, all under $5, all day
Fresh on Bloor: all food, 15% for students, every day
Metro on Bloor: Tuesday is student discount day, grab your reusable bags and get shopping
Bulk Barn on Bloor: Wednesday is 10% student discount day (umm Halloween candy, anyone??)
Sobeys: 10% off groceries, anytime
Toby’s on College: $9 all-day breakfast, Thursday to Sunday
Future Bakery on Bloor: $11 all-you-can-eat perogies, Wednesdays from 5-9pm
$5 breakfasts before 11a.m., Monday to Friday
Daddyo’s on Spadina (now gluten-free!): no taxes on all food, every Saturday
Spring Rolls: at every Spring Rolls, every Friday. 15% off for students.
Over Easy on Bloor: get a classic breakfast for under $10
L’Espresso bar Mercurio on Bloor: 20% student discount
Hot Yam!: Center for International Experience at UofT, $4 every Wednesday from 12-2
Insomnia on Bloor: 20% off all meals, all day/every day (minus weekend and holiday brunches)
Arisu Korean & Japanese Restaurant on Bloor: 10% off for students
Fika Café on Kensington: 15% off for students
Subway (all subways, all the time): 10% off for students
St. Louis on Bloor: $5 off a hot-menu item
20% off food
Melt, Grilled Cheese: $4 student lunch
15% off on Thursdays/Fridays
Mean Bao at Bathurst & Queen: everything under $5
Luther’s Chicken on Dundas: $8 chicken sammies, Wednesdays 5-8pm
Buna’s Kitchen at Richmond & Spadina: $5-$8 soups, sammies, and salads
Sorella in the Junction: $5 lunch specials
Pig Out BBQ on Spadina: Thursdays, Briket sammie & fries, $6.95
Mondays, Pulled chicken & fries, $6.95
And if that list is just not enough for you, you can check out even MORE delicious food options at NOW Toronto’s article on food for UNDER 5 DOLLARS.
Being a graduate student can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat ramen noodles all day/every day to get by. Hopefully, you can hit up one of these awesome food choice locations to stock up on some healthy protein, veg, or gluten-free treat in the near future! If you do, chances are you’ll see me there. Stop by and say hi!