Avoiding Waste and Saving Cash: Food Tips for Students
Even if you’ve so far managed to bypass the student cliché of living off pot noodles, pasta and takeaway pizza, you might still be wishing that you were eating a little better or that your student loan stretched a little further. Or, perhaps you’d like to make sure that you’re doing your bit to reduce landfill and food waste? Today we’re going to be talking through a few strategies for seeking out your food shop and hopefully eating a little better into the bargain.
Be ‘offer’ aware
Other than discovering someone has been stealing your milk or snaffling your bread, there’s nothing quite as offensive than finding some slimy food that’s gone off loitering at the back of your shared fridge. It’s often good money-saving intentions that cause this situation, with supermarket offers luring us into buying things we just don’t need or can’t use in time. A buy one get one free offer on a food staple such as pasta or tinned tomatoes could save you money providing the items have long enough dates, but snap up some BOGOFF salad leaves or similar and you may struggle to eat the produce before it starts looking a bit sorry itself. And binned out of date food soon mounts up. Did you know that household food waste accounts for 70 per cent of the UK’s food waste total?
Shopping with friends and sharing such offers is one way of avoiding this type of situation. This way, you can take advantage of offers on perishables without contributing to food waste. Alternatively, you might want to check out your local market where green grocer stalls and butchers often offer vegetable boxes or meat packs that contain a little of everything at a discounted price. These can often be the perfect base for a week of meals. If you don’t want or need all the items in the packs you could be cheeky and ask the market seller if you can adjust the deal slightly or do some swapping with friends.
Share feasts with friends
Food shopping with your friends is just one step you can take together to cut your food waste and boost your spending power. Sharing social feasts is another easy way to ensure you eat well for less. You could arrange to take turns to prepare meals for you and your housemates or make shared lunch dates with a few friends from your course. This way, you’ll spend less time overall shopping and cooking, which can only be a good thing if you have work and studying to worry about too. Plus, you may just find that with only one evening meal or lunch meal to worry about, you up the ante in terms of the food that you do cook. For ideas on how you can share your cookery load and shopping bill with friends, check out this post on how to set up your own casserole club. Along with cutting costs and freeing up your time, sharing food with friends can be an inexpensive way to socialise and a great way to experience new foods and add recipes to your own repertoire.
Meal plan and love leftovers
Be honest, how often do you wander into the supermarket hungry and pick up what you fancy off the shelves? This is the most expensive and often most unhealthy way to shop as it often drives you to pick up quick and easy convenience foods. If you make a shopping list, you’re already taking a proactive approach to shopping but by taking things just one step further you could unlock some of your budget for fancy things like meals out or bus fares!
Where possible, consider your schedule for the week and plan meals ahead. Think about when you will be at home, work or uni and perhaps when you’ll be sharing feasts with friends or eating lunch out. From this point all you need to do is select a few different dishes to prepare to see you through the week. You’ll find lots of downloadable menu planners online to help you get started. To make extra savings, try and identify recipes that use some of the same ingredients so that you don’t have half a bag or tin of something left lingering at the back of the fridge. Sites such as Good Food allow you to search by recipe so you can be clever when it comes to planning your shopping list.
Finally, if despite all your extra effort some of the produce you buy seems to lose its lustre before you’ve eaten it, think twice before you put it in the bin. Limp lettuce can be made into soups, dry bread goes great in a panzanella salad and browning bananas can make the most delicious muffins and loaves that you can eat on the move. Check out this collection of banana bread recipes for ways to use up those offending overripe bananas!