What's on the menu: three tips for food shopping on a budget

Student shopping in supermarket

One minute you’re burning toast at home, the next you’re burning a hole in your pocket buying anything and everything from the supermarket. The weekly food shop can quickly become a huge expense if you’re not careful, which is why I’ve compiled a few helpful tips to stop you breaking the bank, which I’ve learnt shopping for food on a student budget.

1. Don’t be afraid to try a different supermarket than what you’re used to

I’ve been there too, new city, everything’s unfamiliar, you’re unsure about where to shop. Your family used to shop at Sainsbury’s - it’s inviting, it’s familiar. However, some supermarkets are more expensive than others. Don’t be afraid to explore and check out some of the smaller supermarkets or independent food stores around the city. Personally, I found Aldi to be the best, with my weekly shop costing less than £20.

2. Buy what you plan to eat

It can be quite exciting doing your own shopping for the first time because you can finally choose exactly what you want to eat. Ice cream for dinner? Why not! It’s easy to grab delicious things you know you’ll like, but this is a sure-fire way to not only go way over budget but end up with a fridge full of rotting food come next Wednesday. Making meal plans for the week is a good idea, or at least having a rough idea of what your meals are going to be, to ensure you only buy what you are actually going to eat. 

3. Plan ahead

Mason Mcleod

This last tip sort of connects to tip number 2. Say you fancy chicken tonight, so you pick up a packet from the supermarket to eat a few hours later. That’s one way of doing it, but buying frozen chicken in larger quantities will work out cheaper than buying pre-portioned or pre-prepared chicken on the day, and it will last you much longer. 

If you have a rough plan of what you’re going to be eating throughout the week, you can find better deals on your food, rather than paying out for the single-use version. This tip stretches to takeaways too. Believe me, I know the temptation. Takeaways are great, but they can easily break the bank if you’re not careful. By planning ahead you can ensure that you’ve got yourself food ready to go, which saves you money so you don’t splash out on a takeaway because you’ve “got nothing in” even when the cupboards are full.

For more money-saving tips, see LJMU’s Money Advice, and don’t forget that the Money Advice Team are always on hand to help you, whether you are struggling with your finances or just want some budgeting tips. 

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