The food shop is one of the biggest weekly student expenses averaging around £30 each week, but there are plenty of ways to save money and still eat in relative luxury if you are careful and plan ahead. With that in mind, here are some fab ideas to keep your pockets lined and ensure you still have a great time!
Consider buying and cooking food communally. You will instantly save on economies of scale and also reduce your labour time. Planning meals in advance means that you only need buy the ingredients for your allocated dishes, and don’t get distracted by offers and treats!
Shopping In Store
Shop at lower choice, lower price supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, even if it is just once a month to stock up on your staples. Also think about buying value or own brand items, as often a manufacturers’ brand and own brand may well be made in the same factory by the same people, the differentiation purely being in the packaging!
Pick your shopping time carefully and get to know your local store. You can save huge amounts by catching them as they are slapping on the yellow ‘reduced to clear’ stickers, especially around early evening when the prices go down to silly amounts just to clear stock – don’t forget that much of this food you can freeze and just defrost when you need it. Finally, never shop when you are hungry, you will end up buying twice what you need!
Managing Your Dates!
Be aware that the ‘display until’ and ‘sell by’ dates are instructions for the shops’ staff to tell them when they should take the product off the shelf, not for you! ‘Best before’ means that the product is still edible after the date shown and usually has nothing to do with safety, it’s purely the manufacturer’s view on when their product is at its optimum.
However, if a product reaches it’s ‘used by date’ you will need to take a view, it is often best to bin it, especially if it is dairy, milk, eggs or fish.
Once you get your fresh food home, making sure you eat your buys before they reach their end date is an added chore. A great way to control this is by sticking a post-it note on your fridge door noting each of the ‘use by’ dates, check it each time you go to make a meal and this way you won’t waste a thing! In fact, if you are trying to make your last few ingredients stretch until your next shopping day, feed them into www.supercook.com/#/recipes and it will suggest recipes using those food items!
Unless you are visiting the superstore to try and grab yourself some reduced food bargains, then why not save the hassle of getting to and from the shop with bags of shopping and place an online order instead? If you place your order well in advance, you can get delivery slots at a price cheaper than getting the bus!
A little bit of teasing may also work to your advantage here. If you start shopping online and then abandon your shopping basket, you are more often than not sent codes and discount emails to try and tempt you back. Try it and see what happens!
Always check for the cheapest online prices by using a shopbot, or shopping robot (tools that trawl through online offerings to find the cheapest products).
Cashing In On Discounts And Freebies
Consider using cash back credit cards, as these pay you every time you spend on them. What other way could you earn money just by spending it?
Always check out free coupon sites such as https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/supermarket-coupons which are updated regularly and can save you hundreds of pounds. And don’t forget to take advantage of the obvious, always ask for a student discount, you will be pleasantly surprised at how many places offer money off on sight of your NUS card!
Finally, if you want to eat out cheaply then download many of the fast food chains’ apps, they often offer you freebies and money off to existing and new customers.
Other Ways You Can Shop Smart
So now you’ve picked up a few savvy tips on how to make your money work for you, why not use the same lessons when choosing your student accommodation? How about finding somewhere rated ‘A grade’ by Plymouth University, less than five minutes walk from campus and offering high speed broadband, inclusive bills with no deposits and admin fees?
Surely it would be silly not to …