The call to NYSC… the call to service that changes everything; the call after graduation that seems like jumping from college frying pan to service fire for so many graduates except for a few who are opportune to serve their fatherland in nice places of the nation (and by nice, I mean places where corps members get paid for their services aside the regular allowance provided by the federal government – N19, 800). Majority of corps members do not have this opportunity and are left with the ordeal of sustaining life every month on less than N20,000 and the question of what to eat pops up on their mind almost every now and then. How sad!
To ease this stress, here are a few tips to help you spend minimally but eat satisfactorily and still have enough money to take care of other needs.
Get your cupboard stuffed
Getting foodstuff is the first step to eating low-budget but satisfying food. It might seem to cost an arm and a leg at first because you spend about half to three-quarter of your income on it depending on what you’re purchasing. However, it is beneficial and saves you food cost in the long run. It is an easy hunger therapy you can always fall back on. You get back from work in the evening, go to your cabinet and find a variety of foodstuff. Your mind subtly rests, assured that no matter what, you are not dying of hunger that night. You then think of what you can make out of the luxury of stuff in your cupboard and boom! In one or two hours’ time, you would have had dinner at low cost!
Cook as often as you can
After you’ve stuffed up your cupboard, cook. Don’t leave the foodstuff for the weevils and cockroaches. I know that people that do not cook often hardly buy foodstuff so, if you are not going to cook, do not buy foodstuff. Another thing I know, however, is that people that do not cook, a good number of times, spend more on food daily than those who cook. For instance, an average quality meal in a restaurant will cost you about N500, which results in N1,500 for three meals; whereas if you go to the nearest market to buy a cup of melon (N100), Titus fish (N300), onions (N20) and pepper (N50), you would cook egusi soup because you have wheat, or garri, or semovita at home that you can make!
You prepare the soup and it lasts you for three meals (or more).
Summing the expenses:
Egusi soup ingredients – N470;
Gas used for 1hr 30minutes (at most) to prepare soup and wheat – N150;
1kg of wheat – N400 (out of which you will not eat more than 250g/meal);
you would have three meals at N1,020 only which is lesser than 1 meal for N500.
Hence, dear corps member, no matter how minimal you think it is, cooking saves cost.
Okay now, you’ve agreed to cook but there’s the question of what to cook. You ask, “What do I stuff my cupboard with? What do I cook?” Of course, you’re going to cook what you have. So check out this sumptuous and affordable spaghetti recipe.
In your cupboard, you should have:
Pasta: spaghetti, macaroni, noodles
Custard powder (if it’s your thing)
Cereals: cornflakes, golden morn, rice crisps, etc.
Beverages: bournvita, milk, milo, Horlicks, tea, etc.
Bread spread: butter, jam, peanut butter, etc.
Condiments: salt, stock cubes, thyme, curry, peppers, etc..
Always have fish or beef stew
Depending on your location and cost of fish and beef in your area, try as much as possible to always have stew made with either or both of them.
That way, for at least four days of the week you can be sure to come home to some halfway-ready food. You only have to figure out what the main meal will be; rice, pasta or getting additional vegetables so you can make swallow.
Buy fruits and/or vegetables when you stumble upon them
Vegetables add spices to meal and fruits; they can serve as snacks for you every day. There is a Mallam that sells watermelon, cucumber, cabbage, etc., in a kiosk adjacent my school’s campus gate. On my way home, I usually buy watermelon. It replenishes my energy, refreshes my body and gives me the luxury to plan well (for what to really eat).
If you’re the type that does not cook, does not like to cook; or when you cook, you finish the pot of soup at once, just set a food budget that would work for you and get food from restaurants that prepare quality meals at affordable rates.
Know what you can afford based on your income and go for it. Spend smartly. And like a friend of mine would say, “If you don’t eat on your budget, o ma broke legbegbe ni,” meaning that if you don’t spend smartly on food, you are just going to be helplessly broke.
Damilola Aladesuru is a content writer and food blogger at foodiedame.com.ng She has written on several platforms and enthusiastically writes to broaden her scope of knowledge and ability. All life and energy is what she is; willing to take up new adventures at every juncture. You can visit her blog to read some of her fabulous food posts and/ or connect with her on Twitter @damytomy_.