Finding ways to get cheap food for students is an important thing, particularly as the autumn term rumbles on and your student loan looks like it’s dwindling at a frightening pace.
Food is essential, but it needn’t swallow up your budget. By shopping around and finding deals, you can save your cash and still eat well.
Follow these tips to shop smart and slash your food bills, whether it’s your grocery shop or a meal out.
- Flash the plastic
- Nab freebies and discounts online
- Yellow stickers are your friend
- Plan your show
- Supermarket wars
- Specialist shops
You have your student card – hammer it while you can!
At the end of your meal, check the receipt for customer satisfaction surveys that could earn you a discount off your next night out.
Look out for loyalty cards too, and sign up for company newsletters from your favourite restaurants to be sent all the best deals.
Check out the food and drink sections of student websites, such as Student Money Saver, to score discounts and freebies on anything from milkshakes and hot drinks to sushi and you favourite Italian.
A quick trawl through these sections can give you ideas for an affordable meal out with mates, or take pounds off your food shop.
As the night draws in, hit the reduced section of the supermarket – with any luck, it will be bursting with deals as stock is replenished and food nears its sell-by date.
Friday and Sunday evenings are particularly good times to pick up yellow-stickered bargains.
This is especially useful if you live close to a supermarket and can pop across late at night; when I lived across the road from a Tesco, at about eleven o’clock nearly everyone in my house went over to see what we could find!
Before you head out the door equipped with your bags-for-life, make sure you don’t end up splashing your cash on impulse buys, things you don’t need, or food that will go off before you can eat them.
Decide what you’re going to cook, write down the ingredients, and stuff the list in your pocket before you shop. This will cut down on random buys and the amount of food you might waste.
Have a snack before you go too, as it’s completely true that food shopping when you’re hungry will make you spend more!
Also make sure you avoid any supermarket tricks to make you buy more. Read these 8 sneaky tricks that supermarkets don’t want you to know.
If you can get to different food shops where you live, use price comparison websites to see where your favourite products are sold the cheapest.
The supermarket wars have been slowly driving down food prices this year, and schemes such as Tesco’s Brand Match and the Asda Price Guarantee are making it easier to make the most of your student loan – especially if you combine the schemes with coupons.
Traditional discount stores like Aldi and Lidl have upped their game, and you can often get top quality wine and luxury food products at wallet-friendly prices.
If you love Thai takeaways and fancy recreating your favourite curry at home, or pore over glamorous exotic recipe books but despair over the long ingredient lists, then make sure that you venture to specialist shops instead of the supermarkets.
Asian supermarkets and street markets sell a wide range of spices, sauces and unusual veg at a much cheaper cost, and you’re far more likely to find what you need.
You can also stock up on essentials like rice by buying cheaply in bulk, and treat yourself with big bags of seafood, such as prawns and scallops, which are of top quality but excellent price.
If you can’t find a specialist retailer near you, use websites like The Asian Cookshop to stock up on ingredients from across the world – team up with like-minded flatmates to split the cost of delivery.
What do you think of our top tips to getting cheap food for students? Have you got other ideas? Let us know in the comment section below – we love hearing from you.