Food Shopping and Eating at Warwick
This post is a companion to my previous one, Cooking for Yourself, which you may wish to read first. The focus of this post will be buying food, especially the economics involved.
The main places you’ll likely be buying food are Rootes Grocery on campus and at the Cannon Park Shopping Centre. Rootes covers a lot of the day-to-day basics, but they don’t have a huge selection of cooking ingredients, so in first year I did most of my shopping at the Tesco at Cannon Park. I stayed at Westwood, so I was actually closer to Tesco, whereas for most of the other accommodation it is the other way around. With two panniers and a large backpack, I can buy almost all the food I need for a week or two in one trip. This saves time over having to go to the shop more frequently.
It’s also a good idea to always have some food in stock in case you have a night where you don’t get around to eating until quite late, when the shops are already shut. For the days when I haven’t eaten by 11pm, I like pizzas and canned soup for how brainlessly easy they are to ‘cook’, and how little washing they produce.
Something to remember about ‘best before’ dates is that they are merely suggestions, and some foods are fine to eat for a few days after the listed date. However, a lot of food will eventually go off, so if you’re going to buy in bulk, consider how long it will take you to eat it all relative to how long it will last.
A nice trick is to freeze sliced bread. Once it’s frozen, it will last for longer than it could reasonably take you to eat all of it. You can separate some slices from the frozen loaf, and then defrost them in the toaster.
At Tesco, they sell some fruit and vegetables loose, in some cases for less than the bagged/packaged equivalents. If you intend to buy a lot of these, the reusable grocery bags they offer are worth getting, although some things like bananas and onions really don’t need to be put in a bag at all.
For some canned foods, there are cheaper variants without ring-pulls. Getting a can opener is a worthwhile investment if you intend to eat a lot of these foods for a number of years. The most extreme case of this I saw was Tesco selling kidney beans with a ring-pull for 60p, and without for 30p.
Lunch on Campus
A lot of students will spend most of the day on-campus, so they need to eat lunch there. Various options present themselves. There are numerous places which sell sandwiches and wraps, which are quick to eat and reasonably economical. The Library Café sells hot meals, which are more filling but usually more expensive, so you may wish to avoid eating them frequently. The same applies to any places serving freshly-prepared/hot food.
Alternatively, you could make a packed lunch, which carries various benefits I’ve discussed previously. There are the basics, such as a peanut butter or cheese (yuck) sandwich, but you could get more ambitious: I find a 6-egg omelette or Spanish tortilla is enough for three meals, one or two of which could be a (sandwich) lunch (these taste best when freshly cooked, so I recommend eating at least one portion immediately).
If your departmental building has a microwave, you could bring in leftovers from the night before and re-heat them (check that the container you use is microwave-safe if you want to do this). I’ve had a couple of satisfying pasta meals for lunch courtesy of the microwave in the Computer Science building, although it may not even be necessary to re-heat that.
If you want snacks such as chocolate bars or fruit, it is much better to buy these ahead of time at the supermarket, since the vending machines and places that sell individual fruit on-campus (except Rootes) generally seem to charge way more per-item (perhaps justified by the convenience they present).
Alcohol and Social Events
I don’t drink alcohol, avoiding the associated costs, and my only experience of the night-life on campus was a puddle of vomit on the stairs in my accommodation block one morning, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. However, if you or people you really want to associate with think drinking alcohol is important or beneficial for socialisation, feel free to do so.
Similarly, eating out is fine for social events, but shouldn’t be part of your regular meal plan.