First, if you are thinking you can make money at billeting, you probably can’t. Hockey players eat ridiculous amounts of food. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you mine eats 4 full blown meals a day or the equivalent during the season. The meal he orders at our local Mexican restaurant comes on two full-sized plates, and he eats that plus the entire basket of chips, sometimes two baskets, and then when we get home, his head is in the fridge again looking for more to eat. I call him my human garbage disposal, and he is not an anomaly. They all do this day after day during the season. If they aren’t on the ice or at a workout, chances are pretty good they are either eating or thinking about what they are going to eat next.
You have to do this for the love of the game and to make a difference in someone’s life because you will. They will remember you forever, even if the experience wasn’t so great. You want it to be great, though, so I’ll give you a few tips to help make your experience a good one.
A warehouse club is your friend. Sam’s, Costco, BJ’s. I don’t care. Just trust me. If you don’t have one, buy in bulk from your grocery store. Most of them will order cases of things for you if you just ask, even if it’s something they don’t normally stock. Keep an eye on those weekly ads, too, and take advantage. Most things go on sale in 4-6 week cycles so buy enough on sale to get you to the next sale, and then you’ll always be paying the lowest prices. Stick to what’s in season for produce and check your farmer’s markets if you have one. Sometimes the prices are cheaper, sometimes they aren’t, but it can be worth it to at least check. They might cut you a deal on a bulk purchase.
Meal planning is also your friend. Once this season gets rolling, it’s going to get crazy, so knowing what you plan to make for dinner can save you money on take out or at least avoid extra trips to the store. The slow cooker can also be your best friend. There are a ton of great recipes on the internet, and many of them are budget friendly!
Don’t be afraid to check out your local Asian market if you have one. It’s a little crazy how much cheaper they are on some things like rice, noodles, sauces, condiments, veggies…...seriously. If you have one and you haven’t checked it out yet, I encourage you to do so. You might need Google Translate for some of the labels, and there might be some hilariously translated English on some items, but I can promise you won’t be disappointed. It’s also fun to try some new snacks. We like shrimp crackers here. Oh, and don’t sleep on their frozen section. Inexpensive seafood galore!
It may seem like these are young men too cool for most things, but they are still little boys at heart. Mine called me excited one year because he found Teddy Grahams in the pantry at his new billet house. I had to warn him they were probably for the six-year-old, so don’t eat the whole box, but they probably still have a soft spot for things like that. Expect them to raid the Halloween candy or the pudding cups you bought for the littles’ lunches. This also means that the tricks you used on your kids to get them to try new foods also work on them. Get them in the kitchen to help you with dinner. They probably don’t know how to cook much, and you’re more likely to find out their likes and dislikes from the shy ones this way.
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