Unfortunately, food is not free. Try as you might to stretch that loan for one more night out, you need food and you know it. Food is the most important part of the day giving you energy and brain power to get up and go study, so you need to fuel your body with some grub. Having lived at home before uni, it will probably have come as a massive shock to you just how expensive food shopping for yourself actually is. Depressing right? Having said that, there are ways around it, you just need to know how. Here’s what a staple student kitchen should be like, one department at a time. This should provide you with a relatively low cost food supply out of which you can generate lots of different meal ideas to keep you going. These are just your standard food items, something that you should try and always keep in stock if you’re lacking inspiration. Obviously, the more creative the better so if you want to embrace your inner Heston then by all means do!
1. A massive bag of pasta
This one is easy. The majority of supermarkets have huge 5kg or 10kg bags of standard pasta which you probably feel like you couldn’t possibly ever eat in your lifetime, but trust me: you will. The beauty of buying these huge bags is simply that you save a hell of a lot of money in the long run and you always have something in your cupboard. Pasta is a carbohydrate that provides you with lots of energy, but is also a filling meal – great for lining your stomach before a big night out!
2. A massive bag of rice
The exact same principle as a large bag of pasta – rice is a great carb which will fill you with energy and is also a staple for loads of great meals. Chilli and rice, chicken and rice, vegetable rice, - crack an egg and you have egg fried rice! Really simple, tasty and filling meals all made cheap. The majority of supermarkets sell huge bags of rice which means you’ll also be saving yourself a lot of money. Perfect, right?
Beans: easy, delicious protein. Beans on toast with a sprinkling of cheese is simple yet always a winner. Beans on a jacket potato, beans on pasta (strange but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it) - in really desperate times just a tin of beans; or beans on your cooked breakfast if your loan’s come in! Beans are an absolute must.
Passata is essentially chopped tomatoes. There are so many different varieties in every supermarket, but it’s great because passata is the key ingredient for the majority of meals. Chilli, spag bol, pasta sauces, curries: passata is a great flavoursome base. If you have rice, pasta and passata in your cupboard you have some ingredients for loads of different potential meals. If you want to make your life even easier get a garlic and herb passata and whack it on some pasta: tasty and simple.
Mince is a cheap meat with loads of different cooking options. You can make chilli and spag bol, or throw it in with some sweet chilli Philadelphia for a creamy mince dish. Mince and tatties if you’re Scottish, or you can even make a pie: mince is easy. Separate your mince into portion sizes and freeze, then you can always defrost and throw together a quick chilli which will last you a couple of days.
2. Frozen veg bags
Frozen veg bags are brilliant. Most supermarkets have their own branded type, but if not you can get several different varieties with Birdseye. Some have rice in them and some are just different types of veg. Pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes and you have the perfect healthy side for your meal. Buying them frozen means that you don’t waste any fresh food and you can throw a meal together relatively last minute and still get some of your 5 a day!
• Try and shop in the evening when the reduced section is full – that way, you can get some great bargains! Pop your discounted purchases in the freezer and enjoy a posh meal for a couple of quid.
• Plan your meals for the week. That way, you won’t buy any more food than you need and you have lots of yummy food to look forward to.
• Try and share the cooking with your mates – this saves even more money!
• Remember that the freezer is your friend. Be careful with sell-by dates and put all your meat into portion sizes and freeze them. This way you’ll always be pleasantly surprised to find out you have a lot more food than you thought!
• Don’t be scared of Asda or Tesco value meat - you’ll still be eating delicious meals.
• Take advantage of offers! Check the supermarket websites and see which deals they have on before you pop down.
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