Lifehack: 6 Ways To Eat Gourmet(ish) When You’re Broke

All my money goes to clothes, so I’m always hungry. After years of having a university meal plan which funneled 3 square meals a day into my stomach, it was painful to adjust to life with a limited food budget when I finally said “eff this” to nosey RA’s and got my own apartment. I’ve learned a thing or two about eating on the go and on a budget. I’m glad to say that with these tips, your meals are much classier than they are when you’re trying to look nonchalant while eating in the store.

Breakfast on the go: Anticipating my first meal of the day literally gets me out of bed in the morning. Grapefruits are the OG brekkie fruit, and you burn all the calories and then some, just while digesting the tart and tangy citrus. If you’re at the point of brokeness that you need to pack in as much energy as possible for as little money as possible, it’s great to invest in a package of frozen tamales. You can get a four-pack for less than $8, so it’s the cheapest breakfast you’ll ever get. Stick one in the microwave while you’re doing your makeup, and take it to go to save time. Tamales come in a corn husk, which makes them easy to eat with your hands if you’re driving to work or walking to class.

Grow a basil plant: I don’t eat chips, so baking any vegetable with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and shredded basil satisfies my papitas cravings. And you can even grow a basil plant in your kitchen for farmer’s market level freshness. Buy one at Trader Joe’s and water it every three days: it makes any house look super cute and ups meals of all types to the next level.

Sorority Sister secret: My Greek friends let me in on a secret; a bottle of Charles Shaw wine is only $3.00. The reds are sour and should be avoided at all costs, but the whites? Not bad at all.

Eggs are the best food to have if you live alone: They’re the cheapest protein you can buy, they’re the easiest add-on to make a meal stretch, and if you break one you’ve got eleven more.

Gas station snacks: Convenience stores tend to offer a selection of sad-looking, bruised fruit among the gross, processed chips and cookies. Neither option is appealing, let alone healthy. Instead, I go for the protein-filled raw packaged nuts, or, if you’re craving steak you can satisfy the desire by selecting from an extensive selection of dollar-fifty gas station jerky (don’t pretend you don’t secretly like beef jerky). As a cow-loving pescetarian, I live for the salmon jerky they have at specialty stores, but I occasionally compromise my anti-meat principles to, you know, avoid fainiting. Some convenience stores even sell chicken jerky if you’re off red meat.

Tinder is a last resort: Before I met my wonderful boyfriend, who has since given me his GrubHub login in case of emergency, Tinder was the best way I guarentee getting a full meal, from salad to desert, and having enough left over to tide me over the next day. Vice even did an experiment where they got as much free stuff as they possibly could of Tinder and Grindr: the experimenters get enough food and alcohol to sustain a small family.

Photo: Abbey Lee Kershaw by Terry Richardson

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