Food shopping on a budget

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Step away from the frozen pizza, put down the take-out menu and forget all the nasty things you’ve heard about food at university. With a bit of time, effort and savvy shopping, there’s no need to sacrifice all things healthy and fresh in favour of junk food! There’s no time like university to learn how to cook – with plenty of flat mates around to cheer you on (or laugh at you, as the case may be) and all that free time between lectures. But before it even gets to the cooking, you need to shop. Here’s how:

  1. Know your options

Ordering food online is fast, cheap and convenient. Sites like mysupermarket.com let you compare prices and you can halve your delivery costs by ordering with a friend. If you prefer to see your food before you buy it, head into town. There’s a free weekly Sainsbury’s bus from campus and a farmer’s market with cheap fresh produce twice a week.

  1. Set a weekly limit

Set aside a fixed sum of money for groceries every week. Split this into two – e.g. £20 and another £5 in case you run out of milk halfway through. This will make you think twice about buying things you don’t really need and doing a big weekly shop instead of smaller ones throughout will save you lots of money in the long run.

  1. Prioritise your foods

I love avocadoes and raspberries as much as the next person but there’s no denying that they are expensive. So when it comes to putting together a shopping list, treat yourself to a few of these items every so often, but for the most part focus on the many other equally healthy but cheaper options out there like apples or bananas.

  1. Go meat free

Replacing meat with alternative sources of protein (think chickpeas, lentils etc.) just two to three times a week can already significantly decrease your food expenditures. It’s better for your health and the environment too.

  1. Buy frozen

Frozen fruit and vegetables are always in season and packed full of nutrients. They often come in bigger batches, keep much longer and are cheaper too – so if you do have to buy those berries, buy them frozen.

  1. Cook double and freeze

Yes, that ready-meal might be cheaper than buying all the ingredients and cooking-from-scratch, but it’s a price difference that quickly disappears when you cook in large batches. Freeze leftovers in meal-sized portions for later in the week.