Top Tips for Food Shopping on a Student Budget
Don’t let your life be ruled by Super Noodles! You can still eat good food and have a full, healthy, and varied diet on a student budget.
When it comes to cutting back on your spending, your food shop isn’t really something that can be skipped or sacrificed—sorry, but we all gotta eat!
But that doesn’t mean that your weekly budget should be blown on the food shop either. With a few little adjustments, some planning, and a bit of savvy shopping you could save yourself a packet on your grocery spend.
Tip 1: Stock up on Student Cupboard Essentials
Every student food cupboard should have a continual supply of basic goods. These essentials will ensure that no matter your money or motivation level that week, there’ll always be something you can whip up to eat without reaching for the super noodles!
Pasta, rice, lentils, couscous—all can be bought in bulk and used as the base for hundreds of different dishes.
Chopped tomatoes, beans, soup, jam, peanut butter, marmite…
There’s stuff to spread on toast, throw beans into a spag bol or chilli to liven things up, use chopped toms as the base for pasta sauces or casseroles, and a good supply of soup will see you through lunchtimes in the winter!
Herb and Spices
A good supply of herbs and spices, including salt & pepper, garlic, and olive oil, are essential for turning any bland dish into a taste sensation!
Potatoes, onions, carrots – starchy and hearty veg will help bulk out any meal.
There’s really nothing more to say.
Tip 2: Learn How to Cook a Few Staple Dishes
Every student should have at least a handful of staple dishes that they know how to cook without referring to a recipe book. They don’t have to be culinary masterpieces, but having a good variety of basic dishes in your repertoire will help you keep on track when it comes to cooking and eating decent food.
Pasta bakes, chilli, spag bol (spaghetti bolognese)—these are all simple and quick dishes to throw together, and if you’re just cooking dinner for one, they can be easily portioned and frozen for future meals when time or money is tight.
Tip 3: Don’t Be Supermarket Exclusive
There’s absolutely no good reason, at least from a financial point of view, why you should be exclusively shopping at one supermarket—unless that’s the only one you can feasibly get to. Wherever possible, always go where the deals are!
Use comparison websites to work out where you can get the best deal each week and shop online if it’s cheaper. Check out the local market and fruit ‘n’ veg shops too, as these can sometimes work out cheaper for your perishables.
Also, don’t be a brand snob! Switch to own label—it tastes the same and you’ll save yourself a bucket of cash.
Tip 4: Plan Your Meals for the Week Ahead
Yes, planning is boring and half the fun of being a student is ‘living in the moment’, but when it comes to budgeting for your food, planning your meals in advance is a massive help.
Look at your schedule and work out what you need for the week—if you’ve got plans to eat dinner at a friends house or a big night out on the cards, you’ll need to factor this into your weekly shop and buy less if you don’t need it!
Tip 5: Do a Communal Food Shop
Just imagine it’s like being in the big brother house! At the start of each week, you all gather round to make a list and everyone chips in to the weekly food shop. If you want to buy anything just for yourself, go right ahead but the trick here is to club together for main meals and split the cost.
CAUTION: This set-up doesn’t always work, especially if you and your housemates are on entirely different schedules or never in at the same time to cook together! As ever, use your common sense. If you find that you and your housemates are always tripping over each other in the kitchen cooking separate individual meals, consider this solution and save yourself some cash.
Tip 6: Don’t Waste Food!
Probably the easiest way to save yourself some money (and also do your bit for the environment) is to not waste food!
Food waste causes just as much damage to our planet as plastic waste, and the sad fact is that the majority of food waste in the UK comes from our homes—of the 10.2 million tonnes of food wasted every year in the UK, 7.1 million tonnes is from households.
What’s worse, is that 5 million tonnes of this is edible and equates to ~£15 billion worth of perfectly edible food each year chucked in the bin (that’s roughly £70 a month or £840 a year for a 4-person household).
So what can you do to reduce your food waste and improve your bank balance?
- No. 1: Don’t buy more than you need – it’ll only end up going off before you get the chance to use it!
- No. 2: Don’t just chuck stuff out because it’s past its sell-by date – again, common sense is key here. Some foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, are sold without use-by dates and we know, instinctively, whether they’re still good to eat or not. Don’t just blindly throw out food because the label says it’s bad, many foods can be salvaged – it’s a case of being sensible and knowing what is safe to salvage and what isn’t!
- No. 3: Don’t throw away your leftovers – pop them in a Tupperware and eat the next day for lunch or, if there’s a lot leftover, portion it up and freeze for future meals.
Why not make that big brother house fantasy a reality?! We have great student houses to accommodate friendship groups of all sizes!
With all-inclusive rent and a caring private landlord with a reputation for quality and service; NO signing fees and NOTHING to pay until July, check out our available houses for next year and contact us to book a viewing today!
Andrew Chell can be contacted as follows:
Phone: 01509 552814
Office: 66 Ashby Road, Loughborough LE11 3AE
Published 23rd February 2016