Living away whilst studying at college is likely to be your first genuine experience of living on a budget. That student maintenance loan or grant will only stretch so far, particularly if you lead a hectic social life! That’s why it’s important to get into good habits with your student diet, ensuring you get enough of the good stuff into you without breaking the bank. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to eat cheaply as a student. Get a load of these five resourceful tips to eat well at college on a budget.
Make friends with supermarket ‘reduced to clear’ aisles
First and foremost, if you’re a student with a healthy appetite it always pays to shop on a full stomach. That way you won’t be enticed into supermarket offers and discounts just because your stomach is rumbling. Supermarkets all have ‘reduced to clear’ aisles today, which display all fresh food and drink that is nearing its sell-by date. This produce tends to be available at knock-down prices – sometimes as low as 10-20% of the normal retail price. The best reduced to clear items will be available towards the end of the day, so try and plan your supermarket visits during late afternoons/early evenings.
Take advantage of student discounts and vouchers
As a university student, you’ll receive a student card, which is a golden ticket to many discounts and vouchers. If you live in a town or city that’s heavily influenced by its student population, you’ll find many local restaurants offering money off for student card holders. Some restaurants will even offer 2-for-1 discounts, especially during midweek when restaurants are keen to fill their tables. If you want to eat out and you’re not fussed what day of the week it is, definitely choose a weekday. In the UK, you can also purchase an NUS Extra card for just £12, which offers even bigger discounts on eating out at high street restaurant chains.
Spot the best-value takeaways
Once you’ve settled into your new surroundings, take some time to do a recce of the popular takeaways in the vicinity of your student accommodation. There’ll be times during your studies when you simply don’t have the inclination to spend time in the kitchen rustling up a meal. You might have spent all day on campus revising in the library or researching for your dissertation. Either way, wherever there are students you’re virtually guaranteed to find fresh, flavoursome takeaways on a budget. You’ll tend to find the best value at Turkish or Greek kebab houses, serving up freshly grilled Mediterranean meats and vibrant salads that can be part of your five-a-day without being too much of a goodie-two-shoes.
Keep your food under lock and key
You often hear of horror stories among students that have nightmare flatmates or housemates that have a penchant for pinching food from the kitchen cupboards. This can be devastating, particularly if you’ve meticulously budgeted for the week and are then left without a meal one evening. The best solution? Keep your cupboard essentials in your bedroom under lock and key. Sure, the fresh dairy and meats will still have to live in the fridge, but if you bag these up and label them with your name the culprit will find it harder to sneak a chicken breast onto their plate!
Come Dine With Me-style nights in with housemates
If you live with four or five people, a really fun way of making light work of the daily cooking is to create a Come Dine With Me routine. Each person is nominated a specific day that they must shop and cook for everyone in the house. It’s actually a very economical way of doing things as you can make your weekly meal as cheap as you want it to be, whether it’s a huge vat of chilli or a macaroni cheese!
Penny-pinching as a student has never been so fun. The reduced-to-clear items will taste that much sweeter knowing that you paid a fraction of the normal price to devour them and those naughty takeaways will put a smile on your face without stopping you from going out to the Student Union for a cheeky drink or three!