It’s vital to make the most out of your university or college experience. Eating well and having food security plays a big part of that. You may be constantly trying to think of ways to stretch your pocket and make your meals go further. Hopefully these tips will help…
1. BATCH COOK
It may be time consuming and seem costly at the start, but batch cooking is a great idea. Making simple meals to go into reusable tupperware that can be frozen, stored and reheated as and when, helps you have something to hand for a meal and focuses your portion control. In my first year at Uni I knew 3 recipes I could do well: Mac and Cheese, Special Fried Rice, and Risotto. They all shared similar aspects; few fresh ingredients, cheap bulk options, as few pans involved in cooking as possible and… they could be batch cooked!
2. SHOP AROUND AND SHOP LOCALLY
Don’t feel loyal to the supermarkets. If somewhere offers it cheaper, take the opportunity. The city I studied in had a large indoor market that offered fresh veg for a fraction of the price my local supermarket were offering and at double the weight. Take advantage of the reduced sections of your markets and take it home and prep it before freezing to make ingredients last longer. I’d advise discount/ loyalty cards, but avoid the money off coupons as they’re often ploys to get you to upgrade to a premium product.
3. CORE INGREDIENTS COST LESS
Simply put: A bag of flour and a carton of eggs costs less and make more than even a value pack of spaghetti. A bag of flour and yeast cost less and do more buying a bag of Pizza Bases. All it takes is a little time. Storable ingredients that will keep your cupboards from going bare are the best. On that note:
4. FRESH ISN’T ALWAYS BEST
Herbs, Spices, Flour, Frozen Veg, Dried Pasta, Noodles, Rice, and even UHT Carton Milk are all the essentials that last longer, cost less and are easier on the budget.
5. BEWARE THE CHEESE
Cheese is one of the most expensive items you can buy. Don’t get the big value block as they’re false economy and will go off before you have the chance to use them (unless you plan on batch making something like Macaroni Cheese). Get used to cream cheese, it’s one the cheapest (and lowest in fat content too!).
6. THE HOUSE THAT COOKS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER
Living with Housemates means that you can split your batch cooked food into justifiable portion controlled meals and split the costs fairly at the same time. If you take it in turns to cook it also means more variety- just pray they know how to cook!
7. RECYCLE LEFTOVERS
Veg is a brilliant way to pack out meals when meat is scarce. Add more veg as your leftovers decrease and serve with different carbs to make a batch cook is easier on the wallet. Take chilli as an example: spread it over nachos, enchiladas, rice, pour into burritos and tacos. Do whatever you can to make the recipe go further.
8. GET IMAGINATIVE
Necessity is the mother of invention, and no group of people are more resourceful and imaginative in solving problems than students. Whether it’s ingredients or equipment, there’s always a way of making something out of nothing. There’s no better place for learning more like that right here on the SortedFood website.
9. DO YOU NEED TO GO OUT TONIGHT?
Sometimes budget discipline slips. It’s a constant state of reassessment. The occasional night of being boring can pay off in the long run. Try and get organised. A spreadsheet of finances keeps you on track. Set out your budget and stick to it.
10. TREAT YO’ SELF
Having said all the things in the previous spot, student life is about learning to become a fully functioning adult working in an area you’re passionate about. Know when you deserve a reward. Put away for a day or a month to go barmy on your budget and enjoy yourself. There are means and ways of getting treats for lower prices: discount vouchers, weekly deals, freebies. You just have to go out and find them.
Will Cowley runs the Student Chow profile on SORTEDfood and also has a tumblr blog. He frequently writes about all aspects of student life: Health, fitness, partying, budgeting and most of all, eating! Don’t forget to follow him and keep your eyes peeled for more great pieces about foodie life as a student!