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  • Writer's pictureMalvika Malhotra

Eating on a Budget....

With a lot of things to learn from experiences, “Eating on a budget” was one of the important things I had learnt and I’m sure all those who move away from home to different cities or countries for higher studies or job will understand how essential it is to master the art of budgeting.

With numerous expenses such as rent, fee, electricity, laundry, etc I had to be very conscious of my expenses when I went for my higher studies in UK. Also, when there is a currency change from rupee to pound, I was being prudent. From the week I settled, well that’s almost after two weeks, I had realized I need to start maintaining a diary where I could make a note of all my expenditures.

Being a Dietitian I always believe that “eat what’s right and never compromise on food.” Honestly speaking, I didn’t either. I ate all the foods I love, from vegetable to fruits and chips (AKA crisps in UK). But also, not to forget how much of what to eat.

My first grocery shopping was after two weeks because like every Indian mother, my mother had packed an entire bag of food supplies, from half cooked (roasted rava, vermicelli and poha) to full cooked food (theplas). I had prepared my shopping list to make my task easy, but I am sure all would agree that only after reaching the supermarket we get reminded of tonnes of more things. The most basic thing that my list had missing was milk (dairy), which I drink every single day (a routine from childhood). Of course, there are exceptional days as well.

Post Shopping Rituals

Right after my first purchase the first thing I did after reaching my room was to write down the date and day of purchase, name of the item, quantity, cost and the place of purchase. Why mentioning the place even, I wasn’t sure then but it was a right choice to make note of it and I will tell you why!

Every weekend on Sundays, I would travel to the supermarket to purchase the stock for the coming week. Very few vegetables such as onion and potato might sometimes last for more than a week. This would be due to its quantity being larger (for the use of 1 individual), they are easy to store and no worries of spoilage.

I had never done grocery shopping back home to actually know the cost of fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products, rice or even bread. But I realized that in a new country costs are bound to vary, yet I was firm in making healthy choices because diet is like our bank account where healthy food choices are the good investments made.

After 2-3 times of shopping experiences I started to notice the price and compared the same products (breads, wheat flour, pasta, rice) with a different brand that worked out cheaper. And if the other brand was as good as the expensive one then why should I spend that extra pound? There were marginal differences observed wen the same product was purchased from different supermarkets. This is why making a note of place of purchase was also useful. Also, fruits which were my favorite I didn’t want to compromise on them. I would rather choose the seasonal ones as they would be less expensive than the other exotic non seasonal fruits. And in case of cravings for a particular fruit or a vegetable that worked out expensive, I would still purchase it and instead compromise on any unhealthy snacks (crisps, fries, salted savories). It’s not that I can’t eat that. I was just making a healthier choice not to.

“Wondering what about eating out?” I always love to try out new restaurants and different cuisines and with the opportunity to stay abroad and explore the world the way you want, why wouldn’t we? I totally enjoyed eating out and this would sometimes go over the budget. But balancing it by not wasting the grocery purchased or purchasing less is always better. This also saved me from disposing off the food due to its spoilage as I would plan my week ahead or not over stock my refrigerator if I know that there is a plan to eat out in the upcoming week. I am sure not wasting food on the plate or even its spoilage due to our irresponsibility was something all of us are taught from our childhood. But in the course of growing up some of us forget it. That’s when responsibilities and learning like this bring back our childhood lessons.

The experience I had gotten on “eating on a budget” was not about compromising, rather helped me make better, healthier and wiser choices. Such incidents are not just incidents but lessons we learn which are very essential in today’s world due to its functioning at a speed of 5 GHz and the expenses occurring much higher at the same time.


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