Food Shopping: the Student Guide

Esme talks us through her tips for food shopping.

Being an adult is hard enough as it is, and food shopping can be one of the serious challenges to get the hang of. Fitting everything in your basket, using actual maths to figure out if your mum would consider that can of beans to be a bargain, and the terror of an Aldi checkout clerk flinging your pasta at you faster than you can move. But fear not. I present you with some hints and tips that will make your shopping experience a good one.

“I cannot stress the importance of bringing a list with you.”

I cannot stress the importance of bringing a list with you. A list will keep you on track and will prevent you forgetting whatever it is you always fail to buy. You’ll be less tempted if you have an idea of the items you really need. Make a meal-plan, and only buy the things you need for those meals, and you’ll be able to keep your costs down.

Now that you have your list down, where are you going to spend your precious cash? An obvious student favourite is Aldi or Lidl, while Asda and Tesco have some great bargains too. If you shop at Waitrose on the reg, we need to have words. Look online if you can and compare prices of the items you usually purchase, and figure out if it’s worth walking a little bit further if it means you’ll save two quid a week.

“Set a budget and don’t budge it.”

An extra bit of advice–bring cold, hard cash with you. It’s tempting and handy to just beep your card and forget all about it, but by handing over actual money, you’ll become more aware of how much you’re spending, and what you’re spending it on. Set a budget and don’t budge it.

According to a 2018 survey, the average UoN student spends £109 per month on food, so it’s clearly biting a big chunk out of our loans. Takeout and eating out is enticing, but if you’re doing it multiple times a week when you could be cooking, maybe it’s time to dust off that saucepan.

“It’s cheaper and healthier to cook for yourself.”

Cooking isn’t as scary or as hard as it may seem, and if you don’t learn now, you never will. It’s cheaper and healthier to cook for yourself, and there are plenty of recipes to rely on. Just have a look at Impact’s own inspired suggestions!

But what about balancing what you need and what you want? There’s a big difference between the things you should eat for your own well-being, like vegetables, and the things you want to eat because they’re delicious. Figure out what you eat regularly, and what you want to treat yourself to. If there’s an offer on bread or fruit juice, take advantage of it. And if you have the space, freeze bulk buys so they don’t go off.

There’s nothing worse than empty cupboards. There’s nothing worse than pouring out your cereal and then realising that you have no milk. So be selective about the brands you buy. Often a supermarket’s own-brand cereal is produced in the same place as those posh organic-honey-oat-quinoa things you like, and are so much cheaper. Be savvy with your money, but don’t just go for the cheapest option. Sometimes it’s actually worth spending a bit more cash if it means what you’re eating is good quality.

Esme Johnson

Featured image courtesy of loumurphy via Flickr, no changes made to the image. Image license here

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