Food Budgeting Tips From A Student

As part of university life, budgeting food is a key factor for staying savvy with my spending. A combination of a busy lifestyle and preparing dinner at different family homes and places means that food shopping needs to be properly organised. Here are just a few of my personal tips to stick to a budget, enjoy the food you are buying and shop smart...


  • Enjoy your food but do not just rely on brands. Choose taste!
  • Make lists but do not be afraid to branch out of the pre-written recipes and change ingredients.
  • Always check what ingredients you have at home.
  • Price compare online to see which supermarket has what you need and is cheapest.
  • Buy in bulk and possibly buy some frozen items.
  • Have a selection of spices to make food more interesting and tasty!
  • What is in our food shop is down below too.


Try and plan ahead, of course there will be times when your plans change or things come up but try and stick to the meals or recipes you have noted down. I purchased a meal planner recently, it was only cheap from Tiger and I use this to draft with my partner about what we might eat for two weeks at a time. Do not try and plan for weeks and weeks in advance, as you are likely to change your mind about what food you are fancying, it can become tedious and rigid (especially if you have plans and need to change what you previously noted down), plus you may also be less likely to stick to it. 

I also like to make lists in the notes on my phone. This can be recipes I have found or the exact ingredients I need for the dishes. Always check if you have ingredients in at home too to save re-buying ingredients.

Do not be afraid of changing a couple of ingredients to save time and money. If you have easily replaceable, but just as tasty ingredients at home use them instead if it fits the recipe. If you have food left over that is in date the following week too, search recipes that use those ingredients as a basis for a meal plan. Note down ingredients or dishes you and others you cook with or for love, then you can browse online or in cook books for recipes that suit you all. A tasty dish does not have to take forever. During days when we both finish university late, we both prefer to make quicker dishes, however on our days off we enjoy cooking from scratch. You have to enjoy what you are cooking and eating. If it seems a chore- adapt it!


This heading sounds a little weird I know! As someone who eats veggies every day, this is not a personal tip to buy a load of frozen food in general. Unless that is what you love to eat! I tend to purchase a kilogram of frozen chicken and buy frozen spinach and veg. This is a great tip to a- have plenty of food and b- to be able to re-use ingredients throughout the week and further on. Fresh veggies are delicious, however from what I know frozen veg is just as tasty. It can also be a lot cheaper and you have more product.


Following on from fresh not frozen, buying a kilo of chicken is great for multiple meal ideas. For instance, I am going to make chicken katsu curry and chicken skewers with cous cous this week. The same with veggies, spinach could be tossed into a curry, as part of a salad or wraps e.t.c. It is good to buy core ingredients to keep the cost low, but still enjoy the freedom of multiple dishes. It creates less food waste too. Also, whilst buying frozen chicken or meats make sure you have a small but varied spice collection. These just help to enhance any dish and shape it up a little. 


I do a lot of price comparing online to look at which supermarket provides our typical ingredients the cheapest. This sometimes means travelling to two supermarkets, however most weeks me and my partner shop at Lidl just the once. If we are staying at my mum's, we may get a couple of easy to cook dishes from the local Spa. Definitely shop around for your food and do not just buy labels. I used to buy so much branded food and now 3/4 of my shop if not more is made up of less heavily branded items. It is about the taste not packaging when on a budget! Some products taste a lot better and are not necessarily the big labels.


(This is not weekly, it is typical ingredients we use).


Blueberries, Raspberries. (the porridge may also be with honey)
Seeded bread
(Normally have butter at home and honey or peanut butter for toast).


Wholemeal Pitta bread or wholemeal wraps
Turkey slices
Mixed salad

(another tip for veg, check if loose veg/potatoes e.t.c is cheaper than in a packet, as in Lidl a pack of around 6 sweet potatoes was cheaper and the equivalent weight to loose potatoes- but this is not always the case).

(On days off lunch varies from lunch out or meal deals or more home cooked hot food).


Cereal bars- Fruit and yogurt bars or muesli bars

(An array of fresh fruit)

Malt loaf
Occasional chocolate bars
Dried fruit & nuts


Cauliflower burgers
Burger buns
1 kilo of frozen chicken
Frozen spinach
Mixed frozen veg
Quorn pieces- frozen
Sweet potatoes
Homemade soup- onions, frozen peas, bacon and have spices/seasonings at home
Buy in bulk pasta and rice
Turkey meatballs and spaghetti

Let me know if you would like full recipes and images of what I eat too!

I would love to know what your tips are for staying on a budget.

Amy x

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