Did you know the average weekly spend on food for one adult in the UK is £44 per week, compared to £33 for an average student food shopping. This is without the extra expense for eating at Uni and the obligatory takeaway now and then!
With this in mind, it is essential to save as much money as possible on food, without compromising on the nutritional value - so you can stay well and alert for your studies (and your social life!)
Write a list or do a simple meal plan
I know this probably sounds way too much like something your mum would say...
But if you don’t plan what you’re going to buy, you’ll come home with bags of pringles and frozen pizza that’ll last a night or two!
You don’t have to plan every night and what you’re going to eat; just try and list 5 Dinners, Lunches and Breakfasts and then add on any drinks and snacks. It always helps to buy tins, dried foods and frozen items - in case you have a busy week, to prevent the food going off and having to be thrown away.
Here’s an example to get you started …
Cheese Salad Roll
Cheese, Salad, Bread Rolls, Frozen Mince, Bolognese sauce, Spaghetti.
Beans on Toast
Dried Couscous, Tinned Baked Beans, Bread, Butter.
Pizza and chips
Frozen Sausages, Frozen Pizza, Ketchup, Frozen Chips.
J.P Beans and Cheese
Frozen baking potatoes
Tuna Salad Sandwich
Sausage, Beans and chips
Need something a lil more ...emm healthy? Give these student recipe websites a try
Some people will say I should have used fresh sausages, mince and potatoes - and there is no doubt, if you are definitely using them the same day and they aren’t going to be wasted then this is the best option. However, if there’s a chance you’ll get held up in a lecture or persuaded to go out for a “few” drinks then go with the frozen option and use them the following week.
Check the deals before you go
The best way to check the deals is by using either the supermarkets own website or by using www.mysupermarket.co.uk which sorts deals by different supermarkets including Amazon, by price lowest to highest or whichever way you would prefer to sort!
I tend to click on “Savvy deals” which are all the deals which are least 30% cheaper than their average price, I then use the drop down menu at the top right to change the sort method to “Price per unit” - this means it will genuinely show you the cheapest option first!
You can even put the items in a basket and print out your basket to take with you, obviously, you can continue on to shop online through this site but they normally have minimum spend restrictions and delivery charges so I generally use it to plan what I will buy in store.
Some budget supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl have special offers on Thursdays or Sundays and they have leaflets to pick up the week before to plan your purchases. From experience the really “Special” special offers sell out straight away so if there’s something you have your eye on, it’s best to get down there as early as you can!
Shop together & pool house supplies
If you are living in a shared house it can be really useful to pool some money and buy your household items in bulk. For example, a 4 pack of Loo roll from the co-op would be about £2, but an 18 pack of branded Loo roll from Asda would be £5. So between 4 of you, £1.25 each! I know, I know, you don't drive and taxi's cost a fortune - order your bulk items from Amazon Pantry and they'll deliver it tomorrow.
I know it doesn’t sound like a massive amount of savings, but it all adds up and it saves you from having 4 different packs of everything taking up space in your life!
Farmfoods is another one that sends out leaflets with it’s offers on it so you can plan in advance what you are going to buy, they also have some money off vouchers on the bottom of the leaflet which equate to a 10% saving! Here is a link to these vouchers here if you don’t have a leaflet.
Northampton market square
For fresh fruit, veg, meat and eggs you can’t beat Northampton Market. Everything is cheaper than the supermarkets and normally better quality, and you also have the opportunity to haggle.
The more you buy in one go the more likely the market trader will be to reduce the price, or throw in some more produce!
The later in the day you visit, the more likely you’ll be to get a good deal, however, you always run the risk of missing out on the items you want if the market has been busy that day.
There's a variety of fresh fruit and veg stalls, everyday except Sunday.
Although I love to save money, I’m also passionate about helping local traders and eating as local as possible so shopping at the market has a strong feel good factor too. Again, if you pool together with housemates, you’re likely to get some good bargains.
Northampton specific discount food shops
In addition to the big corporate supermarkets, (which can have good bargains if you know where to look) we have a selection of cheaper shops around the town where you can pick up some good buys. As always, they’re not guaranteed to be cheaper for everything so keep your mind open!
Best before it’s gone.
Food and Drink direct from major supermarkets, some lines are close or just past their 'best before' by date but are fine for hungry bargain hunters. found at St Peters Walk, Northampton, NN1 1PT.
Surprising deals at these stores
Higher end Grocery shops can often hold hidden gems, you just have to try and remember not to pick up anything other than the cheap stuff!
Waitrose and Marks and Spencers have good promotions and offers, and if you have a mywaitrose card you even get a free coffee when you buy your shopping! I tend to avoid these shops even though they have some good offers, because their food, is undeniably good!
They always have weird and wonderful things you just don’t see anywhere else.
I have only recently discovered the secrets of the foreign food store!
I’m a bit late to this party but I’m making up for it now. Northampton is a very multicultural town with a wide variety of different nationalities. If you are prepared to forgo your brand names, you can make some substantial savings here. Especially on the basics like Rice, Pasta, Spices and sauces.
My own personal favourites are
This is also true for the World food Aisle at the supermarket, you’d be surprised how the same item can be so many different prices in different places in the same shop!
Ok, so just because I’m a bit sad like that I’ve found some examples for you At Asda this morning ...
Asda regular purchase versus down the world food aisle!
>>> Massive savings on 5kg of Basmati rice...
>>> A coolio 62% savings on 100g of paprika...
>>> Coconut Milk on the cheap..!
NUS Card co-op Benefits
There’s a link to the NUS Extra website here which details all of their “perks” but the main one in regards to this post is the 10% off your shopping at the co-op. This can’t be used on cigarettes or tobacco but can be used on Alcohol (Wahey!). It does cost £12 per year but I find I more than make up for that in the co-op alone.
Compulsory student food shopping, Northampton co-op also have their own loyalty card, which is definitely worth getting as you get 5% back on everything you buy that is co-op own brand.
Eyes peeled for the Yellow stickers
So now I come to the good old yellow stickers, 'Yellow sticker' items are when items have been reduced to clear. Sometimes they are all in one place and at other times they’re in their normal place.
Now just to be clear, there are no hard and fast rules for this. Different Supermarkets do things differently, it will even depend on which staff are on duty and how busy they are that day!
As far as I can tell, the first yellow stickers tend to appear mid-morning and the really cheap prices happen a few hours before closing, when prices can drop as low as 25% of their original price.
Of course, if you see something you like earlier in the day - it’s a gamble as to whether to get it while it’s there or leave it until later to see if it will be reduced further. The problem with the latter of course, is that someone else may have snapped it up by then!
As a rough guide, most Supermarkets start their reductions around Lunchtime and cut down to their cheapest prices between 7pm and 9pm.
Also remember though, that reductions are normally down to the stores discretion - if you see an item that has today's date on it, there’s no harm in asking if they can reduce it, or if it will be reduced.
I tend to find if I am polite and smiley, most staff are happy to help.
Nobody will help if they feel like you're telling them how to do their job or trying to take the mickey!
Have we ticked off all the student food shopping Northampton haunts or do you have a favourite that we didn't cover?
Let us know in the comments below and whatever you do... at least you know where you can start saving on your food shop!