Conquering the Weekly Food Shop
It is almost, almost time for me to return to university (just two weeks now AaA). Luckily, last year my parents very kindly treated me to several packets of rice, pasta, fruit, veg, a few frozen home cooked meals and some treats and I won’t deny that I am yearning for this variety hamper one more time. Thanks to my parent’s generosity I managed to avoid the weekly shop for almost two weeks, I was dreading having to face up to meal prep, planning, use-by dates and having to start dipping into my student loan. () Nevertheless I have very quickly learned that saving money on food while maintaining a nutritious and tasty diet is something much to be desired while away from home. Also, after trying a variety of methods I think I have garnered a few (subjective) go-to hacks to avoid losing out on money and eating the same thing night after night.
1) 1) Aldi>Tesco
I have said this before, I will predictably repeat it: although Aldi is a little further off from Tesco, thus campus, it is so much cheaper, and the fresh produce is tastier. I really am a fiercely loyal customer to anywhere that can fund a week’s worth of food without surpassing 30ish pounds.
2) 2) Don’t write off frozen
It is quite a task eating an entire wholemeal loaf singlehandedly before the use-by date, and if you can I envy you as I have wasted some half-loaves due to overlooking/ forgetting about how beans on toast and sandwiches are the best. One of my flatmates always used to freeze his bread. Not only this, but frozen veg, fruit and some frozen ready meals are just as good, if not better, than the freshest thing. Most nutrients are retained during freezing, fresh fruits and veg produce enzymes that cause loss of colour, flavour, and nutrients over time, freezing them just evidently curbs the process. However, if buying fresh fruit and vegetables intending to freeze, always blanch them to kill any bacteria. Regarding ready-made meals, despite some of them having excess salt and fat, they are some options which are totally adequate and nutritious, and even the ones with high salt and fat are by no means prohibited, it is just wise to be mindful of their content.
3) 3) Find your proteins
Whether you’re a meat-eater, vegetarian, or vegan scout out your favourite proteins and make them a regular purchase: chicken, fish, yogurt, tofu, quorn, cheese and tempeh can all be sourced easily. Look for deals, compare pricing on similar products, for instance I know that some fish, chicken and variety of quorns are different in different forms: quorn chicken tends to be cheaper than quorn steak etc. Furthermore, there has been numerous articles and research substantiating that proteins help to keep you satiated for longer, so protein sources are an ideal investment.
4) 4) You can order your weekly shop too
A number of times I have had an Aldi delivery, and usually the driver helps you with your load to your accommodation, but always bring bags in any case. I know of some students who work at Tesco’s thus are entitled to a discount on goods, so they get their entire flat to place a bulk order that they fund together. So, if your too busy to pick up everything you need, there is always delivery, or Rootes, the on-campus shop.
5) 5) Meal plan and prep
Planning your meals may seem like the LAST thing you want to do but honestly batch cooking on one day of the week is something which you could be thankful for in the future. I appreciate that variety is great but having some stock meals in the freezer will prove to be useful. Even doing your lunch the night before a busy day can make life so much easier, so gather Tupperware, it’s too useful. Not only this but making your meals from home then taking them into university will save you a few pennies because a Tesco meal deal isn’t always all that. Packed food is great, along with reusable cups because a £4.00 coffee to go can be a bit of a kick to the stomach, especially when some places on campus have kitchens with coffee granules, kettles and microwaves.
6) 6) Include your treats in your weekly shop
Impulse buying will inevitably cost more so if you want treats or added extras so simply buy them with your main shop: buy your alcohol or sweets because they’ll be far cheaper at the supermarket than anywhere else. Buy them, enjoy them.
7) 7) Bulk buying
While the pricing may be slightly higher and consequently quite intimidating bulk buying remains a worthwhile hack for saving money on your weekly shop. For instance if you’re a rice lover, buy the kilo of rice in place of several Uncle Ben’s packets, much cheaper in the grand scheme of things while also being more versatile.
8) 8) Try own brands
Trying own brands will save you money, no question. Some own brands taste better, some don’t, regardless try them and see, you might just find a product which resembles something you love but is: Half. The. Price. I read recently that even over counter medication own brands are exactly the same as their more expensive rivals, they have the exact same product code and ingredients just branding bumps the price up (no honestly: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2016/06/revealed-huge-price-differences-between-branded-and-own-brand-medicines-and-generic-equivalents/). Pretty lucky for me as, when at Uni, everything I buy, to the best of my ability is own brand.
9) 9) Recipes!
Before going to university I was bought The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook (https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-hungry-student-vegetarian-cookbook-3?utm_campaign=shopping_feed_gb_en&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5pL99qKx3QIVF-R3Ch10rQWDEAQYAiABEgLDUPD_BwE buy here, or The Hungry Student Cookbook https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-hungry-student-vegetarian-cookbook-3?utm_campaign=shopping_feed_gb_en&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5pL99qKx3QIVF-R3Ch10rQWDEAQYAiABEgLDUPD_BwE buy here). With over 200 easy and cheap recipes this book will help inject some imagination into your cooking, certainly something I continue to struggle with. Plus, the books help cover ways to spice up leftovers, so even waste is put to best use.
10) 10) Seasoning and condiments
The condiment queen that I am, I recommend trying spices, herbs, sauces, oils and pesto. Make your own sauces with tinned chopped tomatoes and purees- cheaper and tastier than from a jar (but jars are still great, and I always have one ready just in case). Don’t forget stock cubes, or those squeezy garlic, relish, ginger, chilli paste tubes- they are something else and make that fifth batch of bolognese that bit better.
I hope you found some of these helpful. Thanks for reading 🙂
p.s. also use fry light or oil or butter when frying anything, love from my charred wok.