by Emily Davies
September offers a fresh start filled with new opportunities. It’s the time of year when we say goodbye to sun-kissed skin and sandals and say hello to fall scarves and the new semester. September also provides us a fresh start in terms of our diet; we move from abundant supplies of sweet fruits to comforting root vegetables. But, how can we prepare ourselves for all these seasonal changes and methodically replenish the barren cupboards of our residence dorm room or off-campus abode after a summer away?
- Stick to staples. No, I don’t mean the thing you use to attach your assignments together; I’m referring to the necessities to help get your cooking on. Here’s my recommended list of staples and specific examples within each category to make a variety of meals:
- Cooking oil (i.e. olive oil, butter)
- Oil for salad dressings (i.e. unrefined and cold-pressed flaxseed oil, coconut oil, hempseed oil)
- Spices (i.e. Himalayan pink salt, ground pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin seed, dried basil, oregano and parsley)
- Dairy/non-dairy milk
- Coffee and/or tea Enough said!
- Low-sugar cereals and steel-cut oats With the return to school, you’ll want to increase you fibre and carbohydrate intake in the morning to enhance your brainpower throughout those long days.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables Ideal to add to yogurt, smoothies or stir-fries and you’ll never have to worry about rotting.
- Bread Buy a loaf and freeze it–no one likes moldy bread!
- Natural nut-butters Stick to what’s best about these sandwich staples, the nuts—not the icing sugar or palm oil.
- Grains (i.e. whole grain and brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat grouts, couscous) Take your favourite grain, add some vegetables, a source of protein and you have a complete meal.
- Protein sources (i.e. free-range chicken and/or turkey breasts, organic tofu, wild fish) Buy fresh and then freeze it in individual portions to save you time and stress.
- Free-range eggs
- Condiments and sauces (i.e. soy-sauce, tamari, Sriracha)
- Greens (i.e. spinach, kale) Just like your protein sources, keep some fresh and freeze the rest to blend into smoothies or stir into soups and stews.
- Sweeteners (i.e. maple syrup, honey) Because life is sweet and so are you.
- Plan ahead. It can be our best friend or worst nightmare. You just have to know how to do it right—not too much and not too little. Use your handy list of staples as a guideline on your first grocery store trip of the semester and you won’t overwhelm yourself. It also never hurts to check out the sales flyer online before you leave to see which store suits your tastes best. For example, if you find that there’s a huge sale on your favourite cereal at one store, take advantage of it and stock up a reasonable amount—anything that’s non-perishable is nice to have a bit extra of.
- Just relax. Unfortunately, your first grocery bill of the school year will be expensive, but it’s a necessity. When I moved this summer my damage was $90.00. (And, no, that’s not including my Costco bill. That’s a whole other story.). So don’t worry if the total is over your normal budget. It takes a lot to get started. In the future, you’ll only have to regularly replenish fresh foods and that will much more peaceful and pocket-friendly.