By Ellie Ideson
We’ve all been there. When you pop to the supermarket for some milk and bread and come back with ice cream, cookies and a bottle of wine. That £2 you were meant to spend turning into £10 for one night of movie snacks and not much else. Budgeting is hard, preparing food for the week as a student is even harder. You don’t know if you’ll even be in tonight to eat, let alone having the time, or motivation, to actually cook. But planning is key to not overspending on food each week and it is a great habit to get into. It will save you money, probably make you eat healthier and will allow you to impress your flat mates with your new cooking skills. So here are some tips on buying your weekly shop for just £10 if you plan well, prepare your meals and are not afraid to try new things.
Buy vegetables loose
If you take anything away from this, take this: vegetables are so much cheaper to buy loose. Being a student you will most likely only be cooking for yourself, so a bag of four courgettes is too much and half will end up in the bin. Even at supermarkets like Sainsbury’s you can pick up a loose onion for 17p, a carrot for 11p, a whole broccoli for 37p. Fancy a jacket potato? Great, you can pick one up for 27p. Not only does this save you money, but it also reduces waste and gives you a variety.
Learn to cook
You don’t need to be the next Gordon Ramsey, but learning to cook will help you save money and eat healthier. Take-aways and ready meals are great for one-offs, but eating them every day is costly, boring and unhealthy. Cooking can be very simple and there are so many student recipe books out there and online. If you are looking for the queen of budgeting, look no further than Jack Monroe. Her recipes are cheap, tasty and easy to make.
There has always been a stigma attached to value ranges in supermarkets, but like David Ellis, editor of studentmoneysaver.co.uk, wrote in The Telegraph: “The bottom ranges deliberately have unattractive packaging and unappealing names like ‘Value’”. Why? Because supermarkets are businesses and want you to spend as much money as you can. Value ranges are cheap and mostly do not taste any different to the ones more expensive.
Food staples that will fill you up
Cans. Value cans, even better. By being on a low budget you need to think carefully on what is going to fill you up for the longest, be nutritious and satisfying. The best go-to in the cans range are beans, pulses and lentils. With a can of kidney beans at 35p, chickpeas at 45p, a bag of red lentils for £1, that’s less than £2 on staples that could serve you dinner for a week (obviously cooked in a tasty recipe). Even for breakfast, you can pick up tins of beans for 25p which will keep you full until lunch. Be smart about what you buy.
But as much as these tips will keep you full on a shoe-string budget, remember to plan first, never go to the supermarket hungry (you will overspend) and don’t be afraid to try new things. Good luck.