Working to a budget for the first time can be tough, and you might find that you won’t be able to have all of the indulgences you’re used to. However, with a little bit of ingenuity, you can stretch your student loan further while still experiencing new and exciting foods.
Here are just some of the ways you can feed you and your flatmates without going broke.
NUS Extra Card
This card is a great way to take advantage of all available discounts, including food shops. The NUS Extra card costs £12 for one year, £22 for two and £32 for three – and it makes you eligible for over 200 discounts and offers. This isn’t just great for supermarket shopping, as the card also provides a 2-for-1 deal on more than 5,000 restaurants and chains.
The sheer savings that you could soon make more than cover the asking price of this invaluable card.
Learn to cook
You’ll want to know the basics of cookery if you want to eat anything other than oven chips and pricey microwave ready meals. Buying ingredients separately and cooking your own meals can be much cheaper than bulk buying ready meals, and the results will also likely have lower saturated fat.
Plus, it’s a lot more rewarding knowing that you cooked your own meal instead of just heating something up.
Cook in bulk
This is where a slow cooker comes in handy. You can buy bulk amounts of certain ingredients from supermarkets and save a great amount of money thanks to the associated special offers and discounts, so a great trick is to purchase bulk ingredients for a meal, make a huge batch and then separate it into single meal portions that can then be frozen.
This also saves you from needing to cook too often, for all of those times you come home feeling tired from university or wake up fatigued after a good night out.
Pick cheaper brands
Here’s a simple one: find cheaper brands of the foods you always buy. Being picky when it comes to brands offering the same food creates an unnecessary cost. The difference in cost between big brand names and supermarket own brand stock can be huge.
There are several price comparison websites available, such as MySupermarket, helping you to identify the best deals by comparing prices for certain goods at all of the supermarkets in your area.
Try new foods
You are at university after all, and this time of your life is all about experiencing new things and stepping outside of your comfort zone. The food you normally get might be costing you too much, so if it means paying less to help you live on a budget, why not try a brand new, cheaper alternative?
Look for markets or oriental food stores to see if you can find any interesting or exotic foods that will cost you less than the lasagne you were planning on buying. You could even try a UK weight loss diet delivery service. This could give you some new ideas on tasty, healthier alternatives to your current diet.
Worst case scenario: you might not like what you try. But if you do like it, you’ve found yourself a new way to save loads of money.
Being savvy, knowing how to make the most of your food and looking for the best deals – wherever they are – will prevent you overspending when trying to feed yourself at university. Reading through a cookbook or two doesn’t hurt, either!