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Thursday, June 13th, 2019

OzTREKK Ambassadors: Meal prep tips to save you money

One of the biggest issues in coming overseas to study in Australia stems from the financial responsibility and debt you take on while you are studying.

meal preparation

Save money: weigh it into individual bags and freeze it

Although one of the things that you shouldn’t “short” yourself is on your food. I know the classic “university student diet” consists of instant noodles, KD, crackers and Uber Eats, but I’m here to tell you that you can have really good, healthy, cheap food for all your meals—as long as you “meal prep” and cook your own meals since groceries in Australia are actually way cheaper than back in Canada (at least in the big cities). I’m saving money and eating more than I was in Toronto compared to here.

If you get things like Uber Eats, any take-home meals, or eat out, it’s going to be very expensive (1.5x the Canadian equivalent price), so your best bet is to learn how to cook and make your own meals.

Your health is the main reason you can focus and have energy to actually study for your program, so here is a list of my top four veggies, carbs, and meats compared to Canadian prices (hint: it’s way cheaper in Aus).

Another thing you have to think about is Australians don’t use pounds—they use kilograms, so it was a little bit of a shock on prices. Once I made the conversion I realized how much I was saving. Prices have been switched to CAD for both Canadian and Aussie food products. The prices in red show when the prices have dropped, when I caught them on a sale. If you are organized enough, you can stock up and save a lot of money when the price on something drops.

international student in australia meal prep

When it’s on sale, get dry food in bulk!

Veggies Price/kg (AUS) Price/kg CAN
Broccoli $5.15 $13.33
Asparagus $4.26 $6.59
Red peppers (capsicum) $3.73 $6.59
Brussel sprouts $9.34 $11.20
Carbs Price/kg (AUS) Price/kg CAN
Quinoa $9.34 $14-15
White rice $3.00
$1.50
$4.40
Brown rice $3
$1.50
$4.40
Pasta $1.20 $3.33
Meat Price/kg (AUS) Price/kg CAN
Chicken breasts $8.40 $16-19
Ground beef $9.34
$8.40
$12
Ground turkey $6.50
$5.60
$14
Salmon $22–$28 $22–$38

Store dry goods in containers

I don’t mind eating the same three meals six days a week in order to save some money and time (cooking new recipes). I know that sounds insane, but when I have disposable income, I would love to eat new food, but for now, school comes first (and with sacrifices).

I can meal prep three days’ worth of food in a little under one hour, so it saves me time eating this way. Also, when food goes on sale, I buy in bulk and either keep it (dry food like pasta, rice, quinoa) in a container or weigh it into individual bags and freeze it (meats) for when it needs to be cooked (top pic).

Also, don’t worry—I reuse all the plastic bags since I’ve moved here (eco-conscious)!

Those are my biggest tips in saving money. I usually spend close to $100 or a little less a week on groceries, depending on snacking, sales, and the occasional hangover meal. So, before you make the big journey over, I would say learn how to cook—at least the basics—and you can end up saving yourself thousands over the two years you’re here!

Cheers!

Anthony Caiazzo
First-year UQ physiotherapy student

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