Buying yourself a week’s worth of food for the first time can be an equally fun and daunting prospect. Not only are you in a new supermarket with a layout you’re not used to, you have to try and find the best deals with your new student budget. For the last year I have shopped primarily in the massive Sainsbury’s in Portswood, looking for the best deals for my limited money and it is fair to say I have become… a Sainsbury’s Basics Bitch.
We’ve all made some pretty bad choices when it came to making money last, including buying enough food to make meals, but I found a few things that you now stick to, and compiled a list of tried and tested ways so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
So without further ado, here are my top tips to hack food shopping:
- Plan Your Meals
This is probably the hardest hack to follow, but it does pay off! If you have a rough idea of what you’re going to be eating, it reduces waste and means that you buy exactly what you need for each meal. Plus, you can keep any extra leftovers the next day, or even freeze if you’re super organized and want to meal prep. Not to mention it saves heaps of time and you can do it in your pyjamas, when you’re feeling that little bit lazier than usual.
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach
This is worst thing you can do. You will be tormented by all the food and end up spending way more than you planned, especially on snacks, like doughnuts and crisps and pre-prepared food. Trust me, eat before you shop!
- Find the clearance aisle / reduced section
You would be surprised at the savings there are here! Look out for things you can freeze and non-perishables. These are the best things you can get to save your money. But still be price savvy! Sometimes it can still be cheaper to buy things full price.
- Take your own carrier bags
At 5p a pop, it’s definitely worth remembering to take your own bags, or even go all out and buy a bag for life. Also try taking a rucksack, it saves your hands when you’re carrying it all home. Think of the environment!
- Get A Loyalty Card
These are a great way of earning and saving those few extra pennies. With a Nectar card you can rack up about £5 worth of points in nine months. And although that may seem small, it can add up to a lot in the end. You’re bound to be given a load of vouchers, which you can use to earn yourself a few extra points on things that you would’ve bought anyway. It takes the sting out of having to buy cleaning products when you know those extra points can be put towards a bottle of wine. Plus you can also get vouchers for some great savings for online shopping (think 20% off savings) Which brings me to my next hack…
- Shop Online
Shopping online is great. It means that you buy what you need and from the comfort of your own home. You won’t be tempted to buy any unnecessary items and you can easily work out which products are the best value. PLUS you won’t have to carry it all home with you, which is a massive bonus, especially if you have to drag it all the way up to Glen Eyre.
- Don’t be scared of the Basics
Some of my best purchases have been from the Basics range. They’re incredibly cheap, and some of the products aren’t that different from those double the price. Let’s start off with a classic choice for students, Instant Noodles. I was very sceptical about trying these as I don’t understand how any food can be 15p a pack and still taste decent. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the smell and the appearance of these noodles, as they aren’t that much different from Super Noodles. This doesn’t stop you buying them though and drenching them in soy sauce, and once you’ve done that, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Fizzy drinks are also an absolute bargain. During Freshers week you’re going to get through A LOT of mixers, so I’d definitely recommend trying the Basics cola and lemonade. At 20p for a 2 litre bottle, it’s a massive saving! You won’t mind sharing it and it won’t matter if you leave half a bottle at pres. Other great products from the basics range include squash, tortilla chips, biscuits and vegetables. However… AVOID THE WINE! I learnt this the hard way..
So be smart about your budgeting when it comes to food, especially in those early days where you find yourself tempted by your usual go-tos.
Welcome to adult life, kids.