Best student meals without breaking the bank

By Hannah Penwright

It’s all too easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to buying food at university, but it’s never too late to make some quick changes to help keep that impending overdraft out of sight for a little longer. Eating in is always a good place to start, especially if you try and cook at least one bulk meal from scratch a week.

One way to cut costs is to reduce your reliance on meat for protein. Try swapping half of the mince in your spaghetti bolognese with lentils to make it go further. As soon as you let food go off, that’s money straight down the drain, so keep an eye on what needs using up. If you’re stuck with loads of milk that isn’t going to last much longer, make a batch of cheese sauce and put it in the freezer for a quick macaroni cheese. Or, if the food can be frozen, put it straight in there! Store foods in reusable food bags rather than boxes so you can fit as much in as possible. Try and remember to get food out to defrost for lunch or dinner in the morning so you aren’t tempted to grab something expensive on your way home.

When shopping, avoid the snack aisles completely. If you don’t go down them, you won’t even have to look at the foods that aren’t a necessity. But you can treat yourself from time to time. Either bake something, or buy a multipack of crisps or biscuits and limit yourself so you don’t eat them all at once. And don’t forget to plan! You don’t need to know exactly what you’re going to eat for every meal for the next week, but have a rough idea so you know you’ve got enough food until the next shop.

If you really fancy a meal out but can’t justify the cost, why not do it at home instead? The best parts of going out are the great food and company, so invite your friends round and cook something fancy. Ask them to bring a part of the meal like the drink or dessert, and for the main, make something that sounds impressive but won’t break the bank. Roasted butternut squash risotto, for example, is a cheap, easy crowd pleaser.

If you do eat out, there are ways to cut costs and still have a great time. To save money on drinks, don’t be afraid to ask for tap water. It’s an easy way to cut down the bill and remember- you’re doing both your body and your wallet some good! Try and dine out on a Sunday-Thursday, as this is when a lot of restaurants have the best student discounts. If you can’t help but eat something sweet at the end of a meal, skip the overpriced and often tiny restaurant desserts and head to a local supermarket for something that’ll cost you around a third of the price- and will often give you more than one portion too.

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