Starting university, I remember being so excited to do my first food shop - it feels like you’re finally an adult. However, food shops eat up a large portion of your budget, so it is best to get into some good habits from early on (do you really need that 24 pack of jam doughnuts?) 

1) Make a meal plan

I know this takes an extra fifteen minutes, but it really helps keep your purchases to a minimum and ensures that all of your food will go towards a recipe and is not wasted! By doing this you can also get an idea for how many meals you need to actually make, as it is often a good idea to cook a bulk meal and freeze the leftovers!

2) buy in bulk

This sounds like an obvious one, but allocate a day when you can designate yourself to do your weekly shop and stick to it. I have a few friends who often just buy their meals on the day from the local little tesco express, and it is so much more expensive this way, meaning you often end up spending a tenner on a meal. Also, write yourself a shopping list so you know exactly what you came for. Not only will this save you a lot of time, it will also deter you from straying too far from the list… like down the biscuit aisle…*guilty*


Look out for the ‘essential’ brands native to the supermarket. Honestly, they taste exactly the same and are usually at half the price of the top brands! Why buy a packet of digestives for £1.50 when you can get an identical one for 50p! You could even buy three for the price of one at that price! 

4) cut down on meat, eat your greens!

Now I am no veggie - I love my steak, but I find I eat much less meat at university than at home, simply because meat is pretty damn pricey! Instead I try eat a couple of meat dishes a week, freezing what I don’t use, and try buy as much veg as I can - it’s good for you and is fairly inexpensive, especially if you have a farmers market near you which often have fab deals on fruit and veg!

5) look out for reduced items

I tend to go shopping around 6/7 o’clock because this is when many items are usually placed on the reduced end if they haven’t sold all day. Here you’ll often find reduced sandwiches which you can have for lunch, reduced bread and my favourite - reduced goods from the bakery! I had two pain au chocolats for breakfast this morning which cost me 55p - bargain!


In the frozen aisle, you can often find lots of really cheap bags of veggies and frozen fruit, which are often cheaper than buying fresh, especially with things like garden peas, which you can’t cheaply buy in bulk at a low price. These are also likely to keep for much longer too! 

Weigh up the cost of buying single items vs packets

What I mean by this, is often for example, two individual peppers may cost you £1, whilst a bag of three may cost the same price. Look at for this as supermarkets can be very sneaky!

These are my top tips for having a successful weekly shop on a budget, which have really helped me out so far, so I hope these tips help save the pennies!

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Written by Olivia Parkinson, 10 months ago
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