Unfortunately, as I’m sure most readers are aware, the UK is currently experiencing a ‘cost of living crisis’; a simplistic definition of what that means, is “a scenario in which the cost of everyday essentials like energy and food is rising much faster than average incomes.” Consequently, this has led to devastating struggles for a large proportion of the population and has added to the anxiety of the coming winter months.
We all know students’ money can be tight. Between the rise of accommodation costs in both the university and private sector and the increasing food and energy prices, some struggle more than others and this crisis is only making matters worse. Even with a full maintenance loan, it can be exceedingly harder to make ends meet. It’s at times like these when creative money management is essential and leaning on each-other for support is always encouraged. Therefore, in this piece, I am going to give some tips for saving some extra money on your food shop whilst also showcasing some of the best places for your purchases!
Cheaper places to buy essentials:
Two of the best places to buy your groceries for less are of course Aldi and Lidl. According to ‘Which’ in June of this year, Aldi was £1.38 cheaper than Lidl when they bought the same groceries in each. Everyday essentials at both supermarkets are significantly more affordable than other leading supermarkets; the study presented the next cheapest supermarket to be Asda, but it was almost £10 more than Aldi/Lidl for the same groceries. Luckily here in York, we have a large Aldi and Lidl both easily accessible for most students as they are each a 25-minute walk from Campus West. Although the two campuses Nisa’s and the Hull Road Co- op are convenient and much closer than either of these supermarkets, they are significantly more expensive for very similar products. I recommend trying to do one or two big weekly shops at either Aldi or Lidl so that you can avoid having to run into the Nisa regularly. It can seem like a pain but honestly my flatmates and I have had some great times heading out to do our weekly shops — just try and avoid persuading each other into buying more than needed (I may or may not have returned to my house with 2 tins of Heroes chocolates after my friend convinced me the 2 for £7 deal was an essential purchase!) Creating a grocery list in advance can help you avoid unnecessary purchases and even splitting and sharing groceries with a housemate can help to cut your weekly bill and decrease wastage. Remember, by shopping at Aldi and/or Lidl you end up saving more money which can be put towards bills or some extra treats with friends!
Food and Drink Places that offer student discounts:
As important as it is to save money it is equally as important to put a little aside to enjoy nights out and/or coffee dates with friends! Therefore, heading to places that offer deals on food and drink or student discounts can be a lifesaver. One of the first places that offer a 10% student discount is ‘Drift In’. Serving up a wide assortment of delicious food, coffee, and desserts ‘Drift In’ is the perfect place to catch up with friends. Offering a 10% discount with a valid university card further elevates this café and can help ease some worries about spending money when choosing to eat out. Furthermore, when having a takeaway spend some time exploring Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat offers for that week. There are always new promotions on the apps and in stores too. Also, remember to check your UNiDAYS for restaurant and grocery promotions; for example, Pizza Express and Las Iguanas are currently offering 30% off food Thursday to Sunday!
Tips for making your money go further:
Buy items with best before dates rather than use by where possible — even if food is past its best before date, it is often still fine to eat, if it looks fine, it usually is. However, use the ‘smell test’ with use by items but be careful and if you’re unsure don’t eat it, it is better to be safe than wake up with food poisoning when you have a 9am lecture!
Shop in the evening when supermarkets reduce prices based on dates. When purchasing a reduced item, check if it can be frozen. Freezing it may affect the food’s quality but it will still be safe to eat at a later date as long as it was frozen within the ‘use by’ period.
Buy versatile essentials such as pasta and rice to easily bulk up meals. Tinned items such as chopped tomatoes and beans are also great for creating filling meals
Use your judgement when deciding if fruit and veg are out of date. Often the date on the packaging is advising on the quality of the food. If the fruit/veg isn’t mouldy it’s normally still ok to eat
Boil your kettle and fill a flask for hot water to last longer throughout the day
Cook meals in bulk and freeze them; also saving you time in the long run
Cut back on all types of takeaways — this doesn’t mean never buy coffee in town or a takeaway with your friends as it’s important to put money aside to enjoy little treats. However, making your coffee at home and taking it with you rather than buying one or buying some frozen pizzas at Aldi to enjoy with friends can save money in the long run.
If you feel as though you are struggling to manage your finances in the current situation, then there are support services available within the university who will be able to offer you advice and help you at the Student Support and Advice Team.