SOS Debt Chronicle # 1 - Eat well without breaking the bank

If we believe a recent "tweed" by François Legault, Quebec is in the process of emptying itself of its economic elite and we will soon find ourselves all penniless, crushed by the weight of tax hikes and cuts in the public service. We will survive by eating the leather of our boots and fir branches, we will heat our caves with the remains of our old IKEA furniture and we will light ourselves by the glow of oil lamps filled with the fat of squirrels caught in the sea. Lafontaine Park.

To face the imminent apocalypse, but above all with everyday life and the end of difficult months, Petit Petit GaminIn collaboration with SOS Debts, will offer you over the next few weeks a series of completely brilliant tips to live fully in a total development, without having to tighten your belt and break your little pig. Great, right?

As we are experts in on-the-go food and prepackaged convenience store sandwiches, we thought we would start by giving you some tips for healthy eating. without going bankrupt. Kraft Dinner is very good (especially with bacon or hot dog sausages!), But if you eat it too often, you risk taking the same yellow-orange hue as the small cheese powder in the long run, and you really don't want that (unless you're a regular at Fuzzy Laval).

So here is our top without further delay practical guide in 5 steps to eat your fill without having to sell your collection of pog.

# 1 - Learn to cook, damn slacker!

It might sound silly, but for the price of a good frozen meatloaf Michelina's, you can probably feed a family of 4 healthy foods. The trick is to prepare large batches and freeze or reserve in individual portions. For less than $ 10, you can make some amazing spag sauce, a big pot of chili con carne, or some great stews that will provide you with several meals during the long winter months (unless like me, you eat them. bowls in secret while listening to CSI covers on Canal V). If you are looking for inspiration, I strongly advise you to start with our friend's books and videos Bob the Chef!

# 2 - don't do all your shopping at the supermarket

Big box supermarkets are fun, but finding everything you are looking for in one place comes at a price. And this price there it is not fair on the label of the products themselves, but also in their quality. You risk finding better vegetables for less at the local fruit store, a fresh baguette for $ 1 less from your baker, good cheeses from our region really cheaper than in the grocery store at your cheese maker, etc. . Bulk groceries (like Aliments Merci !, for example) are also a good tip for stocking up on spices and condiments, which are often very expensive at the supermarket. Again, if you buy in large quantities, you save on the total. So instead of a single serving of pre-cooked Uncle Ben's rice, buy yourself a big bag of basmati rice or dried beans, you're going to have 3 months and it's going to cost you about the same.

Better yet, go to a public market (usually on weekend mornings) and buy fresh produce direct from the producer. It's cheaper, greener and your fruits and vegetables will keep much longer than your lettuce from Mexico which has been trucked for two weeks before reaching your table, so less waste and more money in your pockets! Small Latin or Oriental grocery stores may be a little scary with their products with illegible labels, but their prices are very often ridiculous compared to supermarkets, especially for meat.

# 3 - Food trucks and other bouis-bouis

If you're ever the type to panic when you walk into a stove and a recipe as simple as chicken rice inevitably turns into a disaster (it's always impressive to see the firefighters arrive, but we'll leave that to the neighbors , eh?), don't despair, there are also solutions for you. If you are not lucky enough to have a nice mother who prepares you good meals for all your meals, classified by day with post-its of different colors, you can always fall back on the best restaurants. cheap. It might take you a bit of research, but it's not wasted.

This summer I went for a walk in San Francisco, and it truly is food truck. At all hours of the day, on every street corner, you could find a truck that offered quality food, prepared in front of your eyes for a fistful of dollars. If the regulations do not allow food trucks simply park in the street in Montreal, they have still been very fashionable for some time and you can find them at festivals, fairs or even on weekdays at Parc Émilie-Gamelin. Traditional tacos, pulled-pork sandwiches, hot dogs, the quality is there and that shouldn't stop you from paying your next rent. Keep an eye out especially for trucks with Grumman 78, New Palace et No pig in my living room.

As the cold season approaches, it may be more difficult to find these famous mobile restaurants, but there are still plenty of small restaurants that offer a menu that is both affordable and tasty. Delicious Viet (Banh mi) sandwiches are very popular right now and will only cost you $ 3-4 for a generous, full half baguette. Portuguese rotisseries, taquerias and smoked meats are also good alternatives to fast food from large chains. Install an app like Urban spoon on your mobile, it could save your life if you have a craving!

# 4 - go crazy without breaking the bank

It's fine to eat cheap, but sometimes you want to celebrate with good food in a chic restaurant. That's good, Montreal is full of them! And if you want to treat yourself to a good meal alone with your better half without having to take out a mortgage or sell your grandmother's silverware, there are other ways than to drop a dead fly or a shard of glass on your plate and call the waiter scandalized.

First, the restaurants bring your own wine are a good way to reduce your bill. A good little bottle at $ 15 at the SAQ (forget about the convenience store or grocery store wine, you'll pay more for a lower quality product, not including taxes) and voila!

Several trendy restaurants also offer special menus for lunch, at 5 @ 7 or later in the evening; you can therefore enjoy the cuisine of great chefs without the salty bill that normally comes with it. The Montreal site also offers a small list of restaurants that offer a menu or tables d'hôte at reduced prices after 21 p.m. It's worth the detour!

# 1 - Launches, vernissages and social events

It is well known to young bohemian artists at UQAM that one of the best ways to eat for free is to go to vernissages and launches (like the launch of Bob le Chef's latest book, where we went to get drunk last week). In addition to bites and other raw dishes, most also offer cheap wine in industrial quantities, so why bother?

You have to be careful, on the other hand, some vernissages require a small contribution or simply do not offer food, so it is very important to inform yourself in advance (especially if it is a vernissage of Corno or the secondary performative art). Learning a few quotes from Nietzsche and Roland Barthes by heart could also get you out of the embarrassment if someone ever found out about the deception.

This column was presented by SOS DEBTS, a non-profit organization that helps people in financial difficulty by offering free advice and a program to help them get out of debt.