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Monday 21 January 2019

Whether you eat to live or live to eat, it’s pretty guaranteed that you will need to spend money on food. When you first move to university, the act of buying food (and cooking!) can often be a bit daunting. It takes a little while to get used to but, with a bit of will-power and some organisation, food shopping doesn’t have to be such a dreaded experience.  

Here are four quick tips that could help you save money on your food shopping habits:

1. Budgeting 

Keeping track of what you’re spending is one of the hardest things to do while at university. It’s also a very important thing to do while you’re a student – and for the rest of your life! Setting up and sticking to a budget lets you keep control over what you’re spending and helps you be able to start saving money too.  

According to the Student Money Survey 2018, an average student spends £108 on their monthly food budget. That’s £24 to spend per week on food – including the odd takeaway! Whilst this may not seem like a lot to everyone, there are loads of ways you can make your budget stretch to include all the foods you love.  

2. Preparation 

Writing a list BEFORE you get to the supermarket can act as a helpful reminder to get the things you actually need before getting distracted by the 2-for-1 offers on some tempting snacks. 

It’s also a good idea to avoid going to the supermarket when you’re hungry; you’re more likely to spend more and it’s easier to give into the temptation of picking up high-fat and sugary snacks.  

Using a calculator, or your phone, when walking around the supermarket is also a great way to keep a track of what you’re spending while you shop. 

3. Go in-store! 

While it may be a little more convenient to use online shopping or pop down to the corner store to buy your food, these two methods can have hidden costs. Going in-store (to your local supermarket) means that you can shop the latest deals, find items in the reduced sections, and stay in control of what you’re spending.  

Online shopping often has minimum basket charges, which could force you to buy more than you really needed. If you live with other students, you could suggest a group shop, which means you could buy less individually but still cover the minimum amount you need to spend without incurring extra charges. Don’t forget those pesky delivery charges though! 

You wouldn’t suspect your local convenience store of being too costly; they sell your favourite snacks for only £1. However, these convenience stores too often come with an increase in price – in exchange for the convenience! Cupboard essentials like bread or baked beans are not too pricey but items like fresh meats or cheese are often much more expensive than items found in a larger supermarket.  

4. Store-brand items 

It’s too easy to fall for the trap of buying an expensive branded item just because it’s on offer or because it’s what you’re used to. Supermarkets usually offer a similar food item to the name-brand but for a fraction of the price. Here’s some real-life examples: 

 Tesco Sainsbury's Asda Aldi 
Cathedral City mature cheddar cheese (350g)   £3.50 £3.50  £2.49  £3.18 
Store-brand cheddar cheese     £2.30 (460g)  £2.05 (400g)  £1.88 (500g) £2.50 (400g)
Hovis medium-sliced soft white bread (800g)  £1.10 £1.15 £1.10 Hovis is unavailable. Warburtons equivalent is £1.20
Store-brand white bread (800g)  £0.55 £0.55 £0.55 £0.36
Gü Zillionaires cheesecake (550g)  £4.00 £4.50 £4.50 Not available
Store-brand cheesecake  £2.00 for 450g salted caramel £3.00 for 550g millionaire's cheesecake dessert £1.00 for 445g toffee £0.60 for 445g toffee swirl

By switching to store-brand items, you could be saving money off your food bill. It doesn’t matter if these items are weekly essentials or a special snack, it is always possible to switch to a less expensive version. It’s always nice to try something new, right?