Festival Food on a Budget

Summer is finally here, and in Edmonton that means festival time! After spending the majority of the year covered in dark skies and snow, Edmonton organizations know how to get us out of the house and outside for a variety of festivals and events.

Some of the events in the city are free, while others cost more than some can afford. Thankfully, there is something for every budget. One of the joys of attending outdoor events is the food. Food vendors can be found offering familiar fare and new fusion inspired items to taste.

Not everyone can afford to purchase food at outdoor events, and if you fall into that category here are some ways that you can attend free outdoor events without going hungry and missing out on the fun:

  • Bring your own water bottle. Something small and portable is best and can always be refilled wherever you are.
  • Packages of nuts and trail mix, granola bars. The proteins in the nuts will help keep you full for longer.
  • Simple sandwiches. Keep the sandwiches simple and easy to pack in a bag, such as ham and cheese with lettuce, peanut butter and jam, and cheese and butter. Try to avoid making sandwiches that will become soggy or messy.
  • Fresh fruit. After washing and thoroughly drying, fruits can be placed in plastic sandwich bags or small, light, easy to pack containers. Grapes, strawberries, sliced bell peppers, carrots, celery sticks, and melons are some of the easiest to carry and are filling.
  • If you are bringing along children, packing a lunch bag with items familiar to them is easiest, along with a refillable water bottle and juice boxes.

It’s a good idea to bring along disposable wipes and moist towelettes for using before eating and to clean your hands afterwards instead of waiting in a long lineup to wash your hands in a bathroom.

When your budget is tight, another way to save money on food costs at free outdoor events is to pick only one or two items that you really enjoy or only get to have at festivals. For instance, if you eat pierogies regularly then you might want to skip purchasing some and instead find an item you rarely get to enjoy year round.

Share food tickets and food with your friends. This will allow you to try different items and save on the cost.

Avoid alcohol. Like bottled water and pop, alcohol tends to be higher priced at events. Your best bet is to stick with purchasing food instead of beverages.

For those of you who have no financial constraints, don’t be hesitant to be adventurous with your food choices. Festivals are a great time to try new foods and flavours. If there are items you’ve been curious about but didn’t want to take that risk at a restaurant, the small portions served at events make for a good opportunity to try something without wasting food. The multicultural population of Edmonton means there are usually a variety of ethnic food options available. Events are a great time to sample dishes from around the world and right here in Edmonton.

Yovella is a former resident of McCauley who still works and volunteers in the area.

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