How to get the most of your student experience 

Every year U of T attracts thousands of students to attend their institution, meaning many students spend the next four years of their lives after admission mostly broke. Living life on a budget can be difficult, especially if you’re on your own for the first time. But don’t fear this concept because many Toronto retailers love giving out discounts to students.

Eating out and on the go

The number one expense besides tuition and rent is food. Some alternatives to the pricey food at many establishments on campus are the various food trucks on St. George Street, with meals ranging from $5-10. Personally, I find that one hidden gem on campus is the Exchange Café inside the Rotman building on St. George. Not only is it inexpensive (the rotating daily specials range from $7-10), it is also a nice change from the usual burgers and Chinese takeout. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they even have $10 lunch buffets.

If that doesn’t satisfy you, you can always go off campus to places that give students discounts such as Sarah’s Shawarma near Bathurst station, Sushi World on College and Spadina, or St. Louis Bar and Grill on Bloor Street West. You can also purchase an SPC card to take advantage of even more discounted food and clothing. The card is conveniently sold at the U of T bookstore for $10. For International Students, the UTSU supplies free International Student Identity cards that provide various discounts toward retail and food purchases as well as airfare for trips home. Another tip is to go to some of the free events on campus; they tend to always serve food and it is a great way to meet new people as well.

Eating in

If you want to be more conservative about spending, you can always prepare your meals at home and make several portions to last you a while. If you live near campus, the Metro across from Spadina station gives 10 per cent discounts off purchases every Tuesday and Wednesday. If an item is fast approaching its expiration date it is generally cheaper as well, and you can always freeze it to conserve shelf life. Likewise, food at the premade section is commonly marked down at the end of the day. You also can’t go wrong with buying sale food in bulk- that is, if you’re actually planning on eating it.

Speaking of bulk, Bulk Barn near Bathurst station gives a 10 per cent discount off of their already inexpensive options every Wednesday. But if Metro and Bulk Barn are a little too pricey for you and you’re up for the trek, you can go down to Chinatown or Koreatown where many inexpensive grocery stores are located. Lucky Moose in Chinatown has a pretty good selection of food, especially fruits and vegetables, and the same goes for P.A.T Central in K-town.

Personal care

If you’re ever short on hygiene products or vitamins, Shoppers Drug Mart on Bloor and Bedford offers 10 per cent off regular priced merchandise on Thursdays. Rexall on Spadina and College offers an even better deal on Tuesdays: 20 per cent off all regular priced items.


In terms of entertainment, the UTSU provides subsidized tickets to various places like Canada’s Wonderland, Cineplex, Ripley’s Aquarium, basketball games, and Casa Loma, along with many more. If you’re a movie buff, Cineplex theatres offer discounted prices on Tuesdays and CINSSU (Cinema Studies Student Union) holds “Free Friday Films” at Innis College every week. If performing is more your style, BMB Karaoke at 593 Bloor Street West offers six hours of karaoke for $6 Monday to Wednesday from 3-9pm. For more educational options, the ROM is free for students on Tuesdays and the AGO is free on Wednesdays from 6-8:30pm.

Saving dollars on drinks

If you’re looking to go out with a few friends, there’s guaranteed to be a deal somewhere in the area. Having a few drinks (or a lot) can be pretty cheap if you approach the situation well equipped. A useful app to download if you have a smartphone is DrinkOwl. If you’re not on the go, you can always check out their website. It has every deal offered by pubs, lounges, and bars in the area you’re currently in. Deals are often best during off-hours (who says you shouldn’t get a whiskey sour on a Tuesday afternoon?) but there are still some pretty great options for going out on weekends. Pauper’s Pub on Bathurst and Bloor offers different specials everyday, like “Premium Liquor Thursdays” offering 1oz. drinks and cocktails for $4, and “Sangria Saturday” where you can order 16oz. red or white wine sangria for only $10. Wide Open on Spadina is another place where you can pay insanely low prices if you strategically plan a visit there. They serve $12 dollar beer pitchers on Fridays and rail drinks for a friendly price of $2.50 on Friday nights. Additionally, Labyrinth Lounge is a U of T student favourite featuring $3.25 Steamwhistle mugs on Sunday, and $3 mixed drinks on Fridays. However, there are a few upper-scale places you can still catch deals from if you check DrinkOwl before heading out for the night.

If you didn’t know about these tips beforehand I suggest you take full advantage of the discounts being offered to you so that you get the most out of your student status and keep a (mostly) healthy wallet during your university years.

Featured image courtesy of  Tess King

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