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Savvy Student Cooking: eating well on a budget

As you begin planning your move to university, you’ve got to start thinking about how you’re going to feed yourself. Yes – believe it or not, this is actually something you will have to think about and even take time to plan. This might not sound particularly fun, but it is worth knowing some tips and tricks to help and make sure that you eat well without hurting your wallet!

Set a budget: how much will you spend per week?

  • According to the annual Money Survey by SaveTheStudent, students spend an average of £92 a month on grocery shopping alone! Usually students plan to have a rough idea of how much they want to spend every week, though most still end up breaking the bank. Therefore, it’s really important that you try to have some numbers in mind and stick to them!


Keep your eyes peeled for yellow stickers!

  • A great tip to ensure that you fall within budget is to buy more reduced items! We all love a bargain, so why shouldn’t that apply to eating well for less? Every supermarket has yellow sticker markdowns (sometimes twice a day) – you may even find an entire aisle section dedicated to yellow stickers!


Shop for your freezer!

  • If you’re lucky enough to have a freezer in your halls, be sure to make use of it! Besides buying the usual easy-to-cook items – e.g. oven chips, garlic bread, and pizza – you need to make sure that you’re eating well and healthily.
  • Frozen vegetables are generally cheaper than their fresh produce counterparts – so you can rest assured that you won’t have to spend much on your five-a-day! In addition to buying cheaper frozen items, buying and cooking with frozen veggies can considerably reduce your waste as you keep it for much longer (without compromising its taste)!


Why not try batch cooking?

  • Instead of living on greasy takeaways and overpriced pizza, you can save a huge amount of your budget if you cook responsibly. One way in which you can do this is by trying planning and cooking by batches.
  • Imagine making pasta – preparing, cooking, and cleaning up– every day (it might seem unlikely, but it happens)! So, instead of doing the same cooking routine every evening – why not try making a larger batch of pasta sauce (including onions, olives, mushrooms etc)? This way, you can save a significant amount of time throughout the week (and eat well for less)!
  • If you’re worried about having the same meal every day, you can switch things up a little – use different ingredients and make a pasta salad or pasta bake!


Making use of leftovers!

  • While batch cooking effectively means that you reuse the same food(s) over and over again… you can also make the most of your cooking by making use of any leftovers!
  • What can I make with leftovers? Depending on what you have left over, you can try and add it to a range of meals – for example, you can try adding leftovers to toasties, wraps/quesadillas, and pasta dishes… you could even try making a stir-fry (if it isn’t too weird)! 
  • Can’t be bothered to cook? Check out our recommendations of cheap meals on- and off-campus on our Mega Deals for Students post!


Finally, we thought we’d help you out with a handful of delicious, affordable, and easy-to-make recipe ideas.

  • Pasta bakes – It’s quite difficult to mess up pasta. After throwing in your favourite veggies and meats (and alternatives), you only have to add some grated cheese and whack it into the oven until the cheese is all nice and golden!  
  • Omelettes and frittatas – Frittatas and omelettes are very versatile, as you can add lots of different things. They are also a good way of making a meal in only one pan meaning that there is far less washing up to do!
  • Pizza and flatbreads – This is self-explanatory: all you need to do is buy (or make) the base and prepare some toppings of your choice! If you want to switch things up, instead of a pizza base, you could experiment with puff pastry!
  • Quesadillas – Cheesy Mexican food… need we say more!? Quesadillas are far tastier than their grilled cheese counterparts. So, to add some extra crunch and flavour – throw in some avocados, cured meats, refried beans, and/or salad!
  • Salad bowls – Salads are among the easiest meals to make and they’re also super healthy! While Caesar salads are generally unhealthy, you can swap out a couple of ingredients (i.e. Caesar dressing for vinaigrette) and add some homemade garlic bread on the side to fill you up! If you make a large batch of salad and have some left over, you can throw the remaining in a wrap for lunch the following day!