How much is your food shopping costing you every week? £20, maybe £25? Now we are coming to the very last few weeks of our loan, like many others, your bank account may well be running out of steam - so it’s more important than ever to avoid the infamous overdraft that’s creeping ever closer. By starting to shop and eat smart, you’ll find you can stretch those last few pounds that bit extra.
Waste Not, Want Not
Did you know that on average we throw away nearly half of all the food we buy? So if your shopping costs you £20, then £10 of that is wasted. That’s a lot of money to throw away whether you’re a student or not, so why do so many of us do it? Reports suggest poor planning and unessaccary impulse buys are to blame, but the biggest culprits are supermarket offers. Read up on our Studentrecipes blog post which reveals the truth about these enticing, money making offers that we are constantly bombarded with. Here are some top tips to avoid buying more food than you need, and preventing throwing away good food.
Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach; it’s a recipe for disaster. Your stomach will be telling you to pick up that packet of biscuits, multipack of crisps and big bar of chocolate. Sounds silly, but believe you me it can really make a difference to how much your shopping bill comes out at the till.
Plan your weekly shopping, this way you won’t wander around the supermarket aimlessly. Spending 5 minutes writing up a list, checking your fridge and cupboards will prevent you buying things you don’t need and will stop you from impulse buying. I try to stick to my motto of ”If it’s not on the list; it’s not going in the basket!”
Try to avoid buying bags of salad, as once opened they tend to wilt within a few days. You’re better off buying a whole head of lettuce and preparing it when you need it, as it will keep for a few extra days. What’s more, a prepared bag of salad is often double the price of a whole head.
Read those pesky supermarket BOGOF or 3 for 2 offers and think – how much am I actually saving, is it a good deal and do I really need it?
Store your foods at the right temperature. Dairy foods obviously need to be kept in the fridge; however some students are confused as to how to store their fresh fruit and veg. It’s important to remember not to store fruit and veg together, as some fruits can give off certain gases which can cause the veg to rot. If you buy a big bag of apples, store them in the fridge to prolong their shelf life, as you probably won’t eat the whole bag within a week. Tomatoes tend to lose their flavour and bananas go brown if stored in the fridge so store them on your kitchen surfaces instead. If you’re not sure how to store a certain fruit or veg, it’s well worth checking on the internet to make sure it keeps fresh for as long as possible.
Meals on the cheap
Eating on a budget doesn’t mean boring, bland foods! Cooking with cheaper ingredients and keeping a keen eye out for weekly offers at supermarkets are the key to cheap eats. It is well worth having a look around your local markets too as they can often be cheaper than supermarkets!
Healthy Moroccan Stew: Rather than using meat, this recipe uses chickpeas which is a great source of protein and will be sure to fill you up. This recipe will only cost you around £2.50 (with plenty of leftover vegetables you can use later on in the week) to make but it serves 4, so will only cost you about 65p per serving.
Sweet Potato Cottage Pie: This recipe uses half lean beef mince and half beans, therefore costing much less than your average cottage pie. It’s also packed full of veg, so not only is it a cheap dinner coming in at around 90p per serving but it’s also very nutritious and healthy.
Toad in The Hole: By using only a handful of store cupboard ingredients you can whip up this British classic and freeze into 4 portions at only approximately 80p per serving.
Chicken, Bacon and Broccoli Pasta Bake: I use a can of chicken soup in this recipe to act as a creamy pasta sauce, which massively cuts out time too. You can always use another vegetable like cauliflower or peas if you aren’t keen on broccoli, and this recipe makes enough for lunch tomorrow so it only costs you around 76p per serving!
Smoky Pork Burgers: If you’ve never made your own burgers before, you should definitely try out this recipe – you’ll never believe how easy they are to make or how cheap they are to make… just 58p per burger! Adding a toasted bun and a side of homemade chips or cous cous or salad will come in at just over £1.00.
An important thing to remember is that eating well doesn’t have to cost the earth, and even when you really start to count the pennies you can still enjoy delicious, healthy food. Your freezer is your best friend, use it as much as possible to ensure no food is thrown away and that you get the most out of your money. Have you got any recipes that cost next to nothing? Don’t forget to upload them to the Studentrecipes website!
From The Blog
Student Cookbooks Part III: Which is the one for you?
Here we are at the end of my cookbook reviews and we’re finishing off with two very different books… one being cooking on a hefty budget whereas the other is on the other end of the scale, which most students can relate to experiencing, being skint. So if you’ve got the luxury of an extended budget or are really scraping the pennies together – check out these reviews and see whether they are what you are looking for.
Afternoon tea banana cake
‘Afternoon tea’ is something that people like to think us British people take part in on a daily basis. Unfortunately, with the busy and hectic lifestyles we now lead this is not always the case. Although, it is nice to take part in one of our well-known traditions once in a while, take 20 minutes out of our day and indulge in a little ‘you’ time for a slice of cake and a cuppa.
Student House Hunting for Dummies
If you haven’t already been bombarded with leaflets, free lollipops and invitations to join absurd promotional events, you are obviously lucky enough to live in a University with non-aggressive letting agencies nearby. For those of us who do, the mad rush to find a student house to live in for the next academic year could hardly have gone unnoticed. Hunting for housemates, signing contracts, paying deposits… the whole thing is all a bit bewildering.
Christmas shopping on a budget
I know what you are thinking; the loan is quickly running out as the first academic term of the year is slowly drawing in and the worry on students’ minds of making sure they can stick to a small budget is enough to make your eyes water! It can be really hard to balance a budget for Christmas as well as leaving enough for yourself to attend those Christmas parties, roast dinners with housemates or buy decorations for your room to make it feel more Christmassy! You can easily budget for Christmas if you have little money left. A little can go a long way and it’s important to remember that it’s the thought that counts!