Hi there Folks,
So I'm a student. Students are renowned for living off 10p noodles and generally eating rubbish...in my first year of uni, I'm pretty sure some of the guys I lived with literally lived off chicken dippers and toasties. But not me. I love food and really couldn't cope with the idea of not being able to eat well. So I thought I'd share how I manage to live on a student budget and still eat like a King!
Now before I start, I must say that I'm not really your average student. I live with my boyfriend and neither of us really drink. I know alcohol plays such a big part of being a student, but I really can't justify going out and spending £30 on a night out. I don't feel that I gain anything from doing that apart from a massive hangover (which I hate) and a guilty feeling that I could have put that money to better use.
I generally budget up to £50/week for food shopping, which is for both me and my boyfriend. This buys more than enough food for both of us and also allows us to keep our cupboards, fridge and freezer well stocked. Jake's Grandma always used to say that your freezer is your bank. Which I totally agree with. When it gets to the end of the month and things are a bit tight, we always have a selection of meats just chilling in our freezer ready to make something with.
Now I know if you live in student halls you're really limited on fridge and freezer space, in my first year I literally had half a shelf in the fringe and half a drawer in the freezer. I tended to take stuff out of packets where I could, I cut mince into single servings and freezer bagged it etc so I didn't have loads of plastic taking up valuable space!
Meat can get quite expensive, I'd love to be able to buy free range chicken and eggs, but at the moment I simply cannot afford to. To save money, I buy basic range frozen chicken breasts, where you get around 2kgs for about £4. I also buy basic range chicken portions which are even cheaper at about £3 for 2kgs. These are really handy as you can just take one or two out to defrost whenever you need them. I also buy whole chickens or ham joints when they're on offer or available at a good price. I tend to slow cook these, shred or chop them and then keep them in tupperware in the fridge and use it in place of sandwich meat. I've come to realise that sandwich meat is really expensive! If you want to buy anything that looks remotely like a real piece of ham you're looking at about £2 for 5-6 slices. Whereas you can pay maybe £3 for a whole bacon joint that weighs 1.5kgs and would last so much longer! Then you can make yourself a really good looking sandwich to take to uni which means you don't have to pay the extortionate sandwich prices!
I also buy reduced meat wherever possible. This is key. If you go to the supermarket at the right time of day you can get some absolute bargains. In the past I've got silverside joints of beef reduced from £7 to 80p! These reduced items are so worth investing in if you've got the freezer space to store it. I also buy reduced bread wherever possible too...I don't think I've bought bread full price for months. I find that I can then freeze it and use a slice at a time or put it in tupperware in the fridge where it can stay mould free for ages! A few weeks ago we went to Asda just as they'd reduced a load of bread and croissants down to 5p a pack! We filled a trolley up and it came to £1.45...needless to say we won't need to buy any more bread until at least next year. I find that things tend to get reduced around lunchtime and then again towards the evening. Evening time is when you get the best reductions as they obviously have to sell it before they close otherwise it just goes in the bin.
When it comes to fruit a veg, I like to try and got to my local fruit and veg stall as I find it you get so much more for your money. I can got and buy enough salad for a week (and my boyfriend eats it everyday, sometimes for lunch and dinner) and it'll cost about £3.50. And its really good, locally grown produce. My university also does a fruit and veg box scheme, where for £5 a week you can get a box full of fruit and veg that is all grown locally. Failing that I get myself to my local Aldi and see what they have on the 39p/69p deals and buy that.
Finally, if you want to eat well, I think its really important to know how to cook. I've lived with people who really have no idea how to cook a meal (I got asked how to cook bacon and make mashed potato when I lived in halls), and they therefore end up living off 10p noodles or domino's pizza. Now the noodles are cheap but they have no real nutritional value and Domino's is not only expensive but so so bad for you (although I will admit it tastes amazing lol!). I think knowing how to cook really benefits us as we can just throw whatever we have in the fridge together to create something tasty, which will really help save you money and allow you to eat tasty, home cooked food every day!
I hope this helps guys, please feel free to share any tips that you have in the comments!
Ciao for now,