Meal planning and budgeting required for students to survive food inflation

Feb 23, 2023 | Campus News

Registered dietitian and nutrition coach Anisha Gupta said students face greater impacts of rising food costs due to a lack of time and nutritional knowledge.

She said students need to start by creating a meal plan before visiting a grocery store, which will help them save money and reduce food wastage.

“If you have an idea of what you need, you are not going into the grocery store blind and just buy a bunch of things that you are not going to end up using,” Gupta said.

Derek Li is a fashion arts and business student at Humber College’s North Campus. He said he’s buying fewer fruits since seeing the price increase.

“I feel like my fibre intake is less than before,” Li said.

Youssef Henien, a business student at McMaster University, has changed his purchasing habits in the last two years due to the rising grocery prices.

“I’ve definitely shifted towards buying food in the same category [as before] but sacrificing a bit in terms of quality,” he said.

Dietician Anisha Gupta said working students will suffer the most from the rising food prices.
Dietician Anisha Gupta said working students will suffer the most from the rising food prices.

He said he would buy food items from no-name consumer generic brands to reduce his total spending on groceries.

According to Canada’s Food Price Report 2023, Canadians can expect a five to seven per cent rise in food prices next year. Vegetables, dairy and meat would be the categories most affected.

The report also said that “food insecurity/affordability will also be a big issue with rising food prices.”

Anisha Gupta said students should also consume healthy beans and lentils as a protein source instead of expensive meat.

“I recommend combining ground meat and lentils to get the protein content you need,” she said.

Sowmya Meruwa, an international Strategic Business Management student at Conestoga College, said her food-buying habits have been influenced by the rising prices.

“I see fruit as a luxury,” Meruwa said.

She said she skips breakfasts and sticks to store-bought juices on some days.

Gupta said breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

“When people skip breakfast, they tend to overeat later in the day,” she said. “If you skip breakfast, you’re skipping a key time when you can give your body good health and nutrition.

“A lot of people who skip breakfast have brain fog, and as a student you want your brain to function well,” Gupta said.

Gupta said skipping meals should not be a choice because it is worse than eating out for peoples health.

“It is a ripple effect,” she said. “If you’re skipping meals, it is going to impact your metabolism and your overall health.”

She said students should opt for healthier snacks like nuts, yogurt with frozen berries, vegetables with hummus, and cheese and crackers, which are affordable and easy to access.

“Another thing that is helpful is to learn how to read nutrition labels and learn how to understand what the ingredient lists are,” Gupta said. “That is really going to make a difference in your health.”