I’ve been a grad student for four months now, so you could say I should mark this done. I was even doing well here in San Francisco on vacation: bought oatmeal yesterday, turned it into a great breakfast this morning (“Better than Bouillon”). But this afternoon, I went to lunch with some friends who don’t mind throwing down some cash at a restaurant, and I blew $73 on lunch! Two glasses of wine, several appetizers, it all adds up even when shared among five (paying) adults and three kids. 5 years ago
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How I did it: I ate like a grad student for a semester of graduate school. I had an $8,000 stipend, which is not a lot of money to live on. I supplemented the stipend with a part-time job related to my field, bringing up my income a tad more - but not much more.
I became an economic vegetarian. That's when you quit eating meat because it's too expensive, not because of any ethical or health reason. I ate a lot of lentils. They're inexpensive, they're a source of protein, and they cook up quicker than other legumes.
I avoided packaged or prepared foods. They just cost more.
I joined the local food coop to be able to buy foods in bulk - not because I wanted buy large quantities, but because then I didn't have to pay for packaging. It was also a way to get healthier foods for less.
When my boyfriend became my fiancee and moved to live with me, he was gainfully employed, and I didn't have to eat like a grad student so much any more. I realize not everyone can get engaged and then marry someone with an earned income as a way out. If this hadn't happened, I would have sold my car, paid off my car loan, and gotten a few more months of survival money off of the proceeds. After that, I don't know what I would have done. Read how I did it… 5 years ago