Being on OSAP means learning ways to stretch your budget so that you can make it through the semester. A big part of being creative with my budget rests in navigating how I eat on a daily basis. I tend to be a junk food junkie, which, besides being incredibly unhealthy, could also drain my pockets if I let it get out of control.
To circumvent that, I start by honing in on my grocery purchases. I generally skip the snack aisle – if my cupboards aren’t filled with chips, chocolate bars, and cheese doodles, I’m less likely to eat them ( I mean, really – who wants to leave their nice warm apartment at 10:00pm and walk out to the corner store in cold weather to satisfy a craving for potato chips???). When I grocery shop, I think about items that are both easy to pack as well as being nutritious.
There’s nothing worse than trying to study on an empty stomach – so I usually aim to pack more than I’ll really need if I’m going to be at the library for a few hours. This way, if I want to stay a few extra hours I won’t have to either run home to eat or worse, spend money that I didn’t budget for. I usually pack pasta as my main meal – spaghetti and tomato sauce with soya mince. It only takes about fifteen minutes to prepare. I also pack melba toast and a little container of either homemade hummus or guacamole.
They’re both perfect to munch on when I’m not quite hungry, but just feeling a little “snackish”. Fruit, too – I love green seedless grapes, tangerines, nectarines, and bananas. Sometimes I’ll throw some baby carrots, raisin, and almonds into a sandwich bag as well. Granola bars are always a good option for keeping my energy level up.
Some days I’ll switch things up with tuna sandwiches on Kaiser rolls. I sometimes also pack cereal in a container and a small reusable plastic bottle with soy or almond milk. Oatmeal is always great for a cold day.
As a bonafied Trini (ahem), I love to make foods that remind me of home. I’ll make a quick “bake” – a flat, oven-roasted bread; or sometimes I’ll make the fried version, which is known simply as “fried bake”,lol. See the fried version below:
Then I’ll make buljol to go with it…
Buljol is a tasty dish made with salted cod, tomatoes, and avocado. Every once in a while I’ll buy some roti – we call the bread wrapping “skins” (it’s a lot like a pocket-less pita or naan bread), and I’ll curry some potatoes, pumpkin, string beans, and chick peas.
above: curried beef and potatoes with cole slaw.
Pelau is another great option – a simple yet filling dish of rice and peas (and stewed chicken or beef if you eat meat).
Now I’m the first to admit that my dishes will never compare to my mother’s cooking, of course – but it tides me over until I get to “taste her sweet hand” again this Christmas… Trinidad’s population is made up mostly of people of Indian and of African descent, as well as people of Lebanese, Syrian, Chinese, and European ancestry. This, of course, makes for a deliciously unique melange of culinary delights. Yum.
Since talking about all of that delicious Trini food has made me a little homesick (sniff, sniff…), I’ve chosen some soca for this post’s Song of the Week. Introducing the late, great Lord Shorty…
Hope you enjoyed that track – and yes, I plan on doing a post on the music of Trinidad and Tobago in the near future. Be sure to look out for that in coming weeks!