Here's How Students Can Save Money on Food Shopping

Living on a student budget can be quite difficult at times. You want to make the most of university life, go for nights out with your mates, eat out when you get the chance, but you know that there are books to read, bills to pay, and food to eat. 

Working out how to budget and live within your means is one of the life lessons as an early adult that you’ll face when living at university in your student apartment.

There are a few ways in which you can do it well though, learning how to save money food shopping, and with other areas of your life where you can cut down costs without compromising on quality. 

We’re taking a look specifically at your food shopping and how you can be smarter with your money to make the most out of your budget.

save money food shopping

1. Food Shop For Staples

When you first move into your student apartment make sure that the first food shop you do really sticks and works for the long-term. 

The best approach to this is to think about all the staples you’ll need to cook with throughout the year and buy them in bulk if you can. 

Staples such as frozen vegetables, tinned tomatoes, oil, pasta, rice, lentils, all the herbs and spices you’ll need, can all be stored for a long period of time in your cupboards and freezer without diminishing in quality. 

By filling up your cupboards at this early stage, you’re cutting down on needing to buy everything week-to-week, which can quickly add up to a greater cost. 

It also helps you to throw things together with leftovers during the week, again, cutting down on overall food costs and saving your budget for other things.

Food Shop For Staples

2. Plan Your Meals

 Living on a budget and saving money at uni comes down to good planning. 

The best way to save money on food shopping is to have a clear idea of what meals you are planning to cook for the upcoming week or two, buy ingredients accordingly, and work your way through the meal plan. 

There are loads of benefits to planning your meals as a student.

You’ll make loads of cost savings on cooking, as you won’t be wasting money buying ingredients that you’re not sure what to do with and might end up wasted and in the bin. 

You won’t overstock for the same reason, and it also saves you time as you know what you’re cooking each day and how long it will take – less time for you to flap about what to cook! 

You could also plan your meals with your flatmates to save money on your food shopping, such as one person cooks one night a week and you take it in turns to make a meal.

shopping list food shopping student

3. Plan Your Weekly Shop

It is really easy to just go to a convenience store for your food shopping.

Popping into the Sainsbury’s Local or Tesco Metro on your way home after university seems like a good idea. 

These smaller supermarkets are always a bit more expensive than the larger supermarkets, and over time it tends to add up and cost you more money than if you did a weekly shop. 

If you have the means, go to the supermarket once a week to do a larger shop and get everything you need for the week with your planned shopping list. 

If you plan when you’re going to do your weekly shop and write down everything you’ll need, you’ll be less likely to go to the shop and pick up food for the sake of it. 

Plan Your Weekly Shop

4. Choose The Supermarket & Brands Wisely

We all like a treat and to buy those brand names we know and love, but you don’t always have to spend a lot of money to get the same quality and value. 

You’ll notice a massive difference in value between a supermarket like Waitrose and Lidl for example, but the quality difference between products is not as wide as the cost would have you believe. 

Save money food shopping by going to Aldi, even if it’s just for certain items that you know you like and might cost significantly less than if you buy the same thing in Sainsburys. 

Another good thing to do is to look at supermarket own brand products, try some out and see what one’s you like, and this could also save you a lot of money over the year. 

Choose The Supermarket & Brands Wisely

5. Batch Cook In Bulk

Planning your meals for the week or two ahead and buying ingredients in bulk will help you to batch cook. 

On a day where you have some spare time, and if you have space in the freezer to do so, why not cook up some different meals in bulk? 

You can portion them into single meals and then freeze them to eat at a later date. 

Think of meals that are easy to do this with, such as lasagne, a stew or casserole, a curry, soups, and other big meals that you could easily cook a big batch of and the type of food that often tastes better the day after.

This way, you’ll not only save money on your food shop but you’ll also save yourself time prepping dinner every night if you cook in bulk! 

Batch Cook In Bulk save money food shopping

6. Take Away The Guesswork

All of this helps you to take away the guesswork of what you are going to have for dinner each night. 

This can often be one of the biggest concerns for students living on a budget. 

If you are standing in your kitchen for 20 minutes thinking ‘I don’t know what to have’ or ‘it’s too much effort to cook something from scratch’, you are more likely to reach for the takeaway app. 

The more you do this, the more money you’ll spend, and your food budget will dwindle. 

wondering what to cook

7. Be Careful With What You Eat

Choosing the protein you cook with is another way to be smarter with your money.

Some meat is really expensive, so choose cheaper meats and cheaper cuts if you do eat meat. 

For example, if you buy a cheaper, larger pack of chicken breasts this can be quite versatile in that you can make fajitas one night, use the chicken for a curry another night, or as part of a budget roast dinner at the weekend. 

It gives you loads of different meal options without breaking the bank by needing to buy multiple meats in one go. 

For some, a veggie or vegan diet, whether full-time or just certain days of the week, helps to reduce the high cost associated with buying meat. 

There are so many good veggie and vegan recipes for students to follow, making it easier to eat healthily and on a budget.

save money food shopping for meat

8. Use The Too Good to Go App

Food waste is a massive issue that we all need to face.

Following the above steps is a great way to save money food shopping but also to cut down on your personal food waste. 

If you do fancy a takeaway though, there are some good options to save money and help the planet by cutting down food waste. 

There are some services that sell misshapen fruit and vegetables at a lower price, the type that are deemed ‘too ugly’ to sell.

Other apps like Too Good to Go provide you the chance to pick up food from restaurants, cafés, and chain brands at a low cost. 

You’ll buy ‘magic bags’ that contain whatever food is leftover at the end of the day and would otherwise be thrown in the bin. 

too good to go app

9. Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry!

There is no bigger danger to a person food shopping on a budget than if they do so when hungry. 

It is so easy to do this, walk around the aisles of your local supermarket, starving hungry, with eyes bigger than your belly.

You might even end up buying things to eat as you’re walking around. 

This is even more dangerous when you’re also shopping in Aldi and the wondrous, magical world of the middle aisle could end up with you leaving for home with a massive lasagne for 6 people, big slabs of Aldi chocolate, a speed boat, and an inflatable hot tub under your arm! 

Always stick to your list and budget, no matter how hard it is, and don’t go hungry. 

food shopping when hungry save money food shopping

10. Be On The LookOut For Discounts 

 It pays off to keep an eye out for student discounts across a wide range of services and products. 

You never know what you might find or how much you’ll be able to save, whether it’s making the most of the student discount with Apple,  taking advantage of the Greggs student meal deal and freebies, or a wide range of student discounts that you can keep an eye on here.

You’ll often find that there are student discounts, offers for first-time shoppers, and loyalty point schemes to get involved with.

Also, don’t forget the Whoopsie! aisle that most supermarkets have. 

This is where soon to be out of date, or past its best food is on sale at a real big discount. You can find some bargains here!

student discount save money food shopping

Final Things To Takeaway 

As you can see, there are a few ways here in which you can be better with your student budget. 

Save money food shopping by shopping in the reduced aisles of supermarkets, choosing own brand products, bulk buying and meal planning, changing your diet to vegan or veggie to cut down the cost of meat, amongst other things. 

You don’t need to miss out on things just because you are living on a student budget. 

You can still enjoy big meals with your mates at home, fulfilling dinner parties where everyone chips in, and the occasional takeaway or meal out is within the boundaries of most budgets if you are clever with your money the rest of the time. 

Your food shop is one of your biggest expenses, so make sure it counts and save money food shopping with clever habits! 

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