We all know that life as a student inevitably leads to rather empty pockets and that when it comes to the weekly food shop the cost of many foods can be an issue. However, there are a few simple ways in which you could save money and make your cash go further. So here are my tips for budget shopping.
1. Study which supermarkets have the best offers at the moment and take full advantage of any buy one get one frees on essential staples. Supermarkets often have loss leaders – basic items which they sell at a loss simply to draw people into the store. Find out what they are, and stock up. You’re a student so you’re used to research…. time to put it into practice!
2. Check out the supermarket’s own brand products. Often people avoid these assuming lower quality but sometimes you’d be hard pressed to spot the difference in a blind tasting.
3. Reduced items shouldn’t be discarded. Many of these items are reduced because they are nearing their sell by date. If you are planning to eat them for tea tonight or have some spare freezer space then you could find a great bargain. (Remember that a sell by date is not the same as a use by date. Don’t eat products past their use by date).
4. Look up. Supermarkets tend to place the most expensive products at eye level so that the customer is drawn to them first. If you take the time to scan the shelves a cheaper alternative may be hiding on a higher shelf.
5. Buy frozen vegetables. They’ll last longer, cost less than fresh and are just as good for you. Also check out the tinned vegetables and you’re on your way to your five a day. If you do buy fresh then remember that fruit and vegetables that are in season will generally be cheaper. Another tip is that fresh fruit is often reduced at the end of the day just before the supermarket closes. Alternatively you could save by buying your fruit and vegetables from a market stall.
6. Plan ahead. Work out what meals you want to eat in the next few days. If you go to the supermarket with a plan you’ll be less likely to buy a lot of extras that you don’t really need. Also it is worth stocking up on enough to make several meals at one time as you’ll save in the long run. Try to do just one big shop a week.
7. Share cooking meals with your housemates. If you shop together you’ll save money compared to shopping for one person as many food items come in multipacks. Make sure you share on large bulk packs of products that last, like dried pasta or rice.
8. Cook from scratch sometimes. I know it sounds like a lot of hassle but if you think about it even with a super basic meal like a sandwich it is so much cheaper to make your own than buy them ready-made.