Victoria, our Advice & Money Student Intern, shares her expertise in every day student saving…
Do you live to eat? Or do you eat to live? Either way, these six top tips will make you reconsider the way you fill your fridge. You don’t have to be a slave to the supernoodle either, the tactical food fanatic can find a vast array of nutritional goodness whilst simultaneously saving the precious pounds.
For the last three years, I’ve studied English and History at Cardiff University whilst learning life skills in Cathays. Living independently is a learning curve. To make yours a little less steep, here are six tips I’ve learnt to save money on food. So that you have more money for the things you really want, like more food.
1. Discover deals on fresh fruit and vegetables
Supermarket fruit and veg deals are as competitive as the Olympics these days, which is great news for us students. You can pick up selected products for as little as 29p, even in places like the Co-operative on Crwys Road (which also offers a 10% student discount to those with an NUS card). The Lidl on Cathays Terrace usually offers the best price for your five a day, but inspect the quality as you would check for broken eggs. Be selective as well. The lettuces may be the same price, but some are bigger than others. Fresh fruit and veg are key for staying healthy, so put down the baked beans and pick up the broccoli.
2. Take products from the back
A useful manoeuvre in the quest to reduce the cost of your weekly shop is to take products from the back, and check that they have the latest use by date. A student’s week can start off as calm as a lake and end up as hectic as Crwys Road Dominoes at 3am on a Friday night, so it helps to have the longest shelf-life possible. Try to eat or freeze your food before it goes out of date.
3. Prepare your food and drink
It’s easy to understand the temptation of buying food and drink on the go; the Woodville Road Sainsbury’s sandwich selection is practically Michelin star, and the caffeine sensation of a freshly brewed Hoffi Coffi brings you closer to Columbia and Wales all in one cup. They’re quick, they’re convenient – but they’re costly. When you realise buying a coffee every weekday for a term could cost nearly £440, the exotic tones start smelling a little more bitter. Preparing your own food and drink is one of the best ways to save money. Tupperware is cheap and you can even recycle a plastic take-away carton for the purpose (so you can feel less guilty about that chicken vindaloo). Invest in a good flask to keep your coffee hot and your bag dry.
Need some visual proof? Watch our video about ‘Dining on a Budget’
4. Freeze meals
You’d be surprised at just how much you can keep in your freezer. For example, milk, bread and even luscious leftovers. You can even freeze meals you’ve already made, so you can cook in bulk to save time and money. Remember to defrost things thoroughly and take extra care with dairy products and meat.
5. Check the reduced aisle
When food nears its ‘display until’ or ‘sell-by’ date, it is discounted and this is when you can swoop in to nab the deals. The late-night reduced run is an effective way to save money, because it’s between 8pm and 11pm that products can be found for as little as 10 per cent of their original price. The Tescos on Cathays Terrace, City Road, Albany Road or Salisbury Road are your prime targets. If you’re a Tally resident, you can visit the big Tesco on Excelsior Road or the little Tesco on North Road. Gather your bags for life and get ready to raid the reduced aisle.
6. Take advantage of your tinned talent
Obviously fresh fruit and veg is the best, but tinned goods can be a cheaper and more convenient alternative to bulk out meals. It doesn’t have to be the go-to purchase of baked beans either, you can buy things like tomatoes, red beans and chickpeas to bulk out pasta, chilli and curry cheaply and easily. Poundland has good deals on branded tins, if supermarket’s own aren’t your cup of tea (or your can of beans), and there are two on Queen Street in town. For those who struggle to eat food before it goes off, tins can be a great way of preserving your budget.
So go forth, and utilise your spending-savvy!
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Victoria, Advice & Money Student Intern
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