Saving and skimping in Toronto this summer

Using Ka Wei, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Caffiends to your advantage

Saving and skimping in Toronto this summer

Toronto is a city of opportunity, and with opportunity comes temptation. A 15-minute walk anywhere south of Bloor will lead you past fine dining and food trucks, cafes and bars, book stores and record shops — all of which will tax your willpower, strain your attention, and ultimately drain your wallet.

It’s a battle I know all too well; after popping off in the early days of September like some sort of pudgy, pretentious Drake, my lifestyle caught up with me, and I was forced to reform. I sought out the advice of my smarter, thriftier friends, and scraped by for the next five months on eggs, sriracha, cheap coffee, and handouts.  

That episode let me in on one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets: with some luck and resourcefulness, the city can be liveable — you just have to know the right spots.

For food, fifth-year Clara Rutherford recommends Chinatown’s big-time produce vendors: Ka Wei, Hua Sheng, and Lucky Moose. Stocking up on cheap, nutritious grub like kale, beans, and rice will keep you full throughout the day, while dashing into a hole-in-the-wall bakery, like Mashion Bakery on Baldwin and Spadina, is great for loading up on banana bread or pork buns, says Rutherford.

However, flying around these crazy, mosh-pit produce markets can be stressful. The employees blur past you, prefer cash, and have no time to chit-chat. But when you can find a kilogram of quick oats for $3, it’s a trip worth taking.  

On your way back from Hua Sheng, scoop these up and throw ‘em in the freezer: meats, bread, produce, sriracha, whatever. Each are savoury, cheap, and will let you save up some money for your nights out.  

Another food tip: after 3:00 pm, the CityMarkets across town sell ‘enjoy tonight’ products; food that they’re forced to sell because it will ‘expire tomorrow.’

If you’re planning on hitting the town, fourth-year architecture student David Suskin recommends pre-gaming with some cheap alcohol. Pabst Blue Ribbon is always in vogue, while some of the grimier Ontarian wines are sold for around $7. After loosening up, Suskin and I recommend storming into Wide Open, Sneaky Dee’s, the Madison Pub, or Ein-Stein — of meme page fame. All boast cheap beer, and the latter has free cover on Friday and Saturday.

If you’re feeling some cheap coffee after your night out, avoid hitting the more bougie Toronto areas, like Yorkville, Queen West, and King Street. Instead, slip into Caffiends. This tiny, student-run cafe, based out of a shoe closet in Old Vic, sells coffee at a dollar per mug, and offers up one of the best atmospheres in Toronto.

There are other great, inexpensive dives on campus, too. Recent graduate Arielle Mantes recommends Trinity’s The Buttery or Victoria’s Ned’s, but with a few caveats. The drinks there can be pricey, Mantes says, so make sure to bring a reusable mug and tea bag with you to skip the line and cut costs.

If you’re really down and out —think early April, trapped at Robarts, snow on the ground — you can always go to Starbucks. If you’re a Starbucks Gold member, you get a free drink on your birthday. The good news is all it takes to become a member is an email and a few spare minutes to sign up, so make sure to pop by on your birthday for that free drink.

Everyone has their own strategies on how to get by in Toronto. Maybe you sniff out free food on campus: college societies and Frosh week are especially known for this. Perhaps you budget, prep meals, and fast through breakfast. Safe to say, there are hundreds of things you can do, and even more waiting to be discovered.

Songs for a chill Canadian winter

Escape commuting in the cold with some good vibes and ez listening

Songs for a chill Canadian winter

Regardless of whether your commute to class is 20 minutes or an hour and 20, there is always a need to keep distracted — especially in the snowy season! Music is the perfect pastime. Not only can you bury your hands deep in your pockets, but it is also a great escape from the everyday stress of schoolwork and assignments. Here are 10 tracks to do just that.

1. “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, 2004

This killer throwback to the early 2000s provides a strong sense of nostalgia for anyone who enjoys singing along to what can be described as a former emo-teen anthem. The steady beat and easy-to-remember lyrics will have you reminiscing about your childhood, forgetting about your long, overcrowded daily commute.

2. “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, 2018

Cardi B has once again blessed us with a song that not only has a great backtrack but also fun lyrics delivered by a host of talented collaborators. This upbeat song almost guarantees the overwhelming need to dance — or if you’re on the subway or bus, maybe just some light head bobbing.

3. “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer, 2018

The solid lyrics and beat provided by the Australian boy band will at the very least provide a distraction from even the worst commute. At the very best, it will make you want to sing along with full fervor in the middle of a crowded subway car.

4. “Jesus of Suburbia” by Green Day, 2004

This is another throwback song that will remove you from your lengthy, tumultuous journey. Green Day provide an upbeat tempo and elaborate guitar solos that will definitely leave you feeling hyped up and ready for whatever the day has to offer.

5. “Scar Tissue” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1999

The relaxed tempo of this song, along with the gentle riff of the guitar solos, is a great way to set a chill tone for the start of a day. It is also perfect to help you unwind while commuting back home after a long day of class.

6. “Kiwi” by Harry Styles, 2017

The high energy of this song, as well as the great vocals from our favourite ex-member of One Direction — cue tears — allow for an incredibly entertaining commute. I dare you not to bop along to the fun beat and amusing lyrics.

7. “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant, 2010

Easy breezy listening with this mellow tune. It creates a strong sense of nostalgia, helping you lose yourself in whimsical thought. Nothing passes time better than daydreaming about joyous memories and the past, and this song will definitely take you back there.

8. “Cigarette Daydreams” by Cage the Elephant, 2013

Nothing says ‘chill’ like the soft serenade of an acoustic guitar. Whether you are on your way to lecture or on the way home, this song allows you to easily get lost in your thoughts and forget about the stress of the day.

9. “In My Feelings” by Drake, 2018

Despite topping the charts and sparking a viral online challenge months ago, this song is still as hype as ever. It has a great vibe and reduces any lengthy commute with its solid beat and entertaining lyrics.

10. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, 1978

There is nothing like an old school classic. This song is a bit of a throwback, but being serenaded by Freddie Mercury is still as great now as it was 40 years ago. The jazzy, incredibly upbeat sound of this song will make any journey feel like breeze.