Since arriving back at university, I've become quite the frugal shopper. I thought I'd create a post with some money saving tips for food shopping and cooking whilst at university. Or, actually, later in life. There's never any point spending more than you have to at any point in life... except on clothes... just maybe :)
1. Bulk cooking.
Tonight, for dinner, I made a chicken casserole in the slow cooker (crock pot). In there went three frozen chicken breasts, a handful of baby carrots, diced onion, sweetcorn and mixed peppers. Add a little salt, pepper and gravy granules. I added a dash of Soy Sauce for flavour but it's hardly necessary. Cook it all up in one session and dish it up on some plain rice.
You'll notice there is absolutely oodles of the stuff. I knew that I was bulk cooking and was still surprised with how much there was. So tonight, not only did I make a gorgeous dinner for right now but I have two portions of chicken casserole and rice to put in the freezer and enjoy when I can't be bothered cooking or get home from university late.
2. Buy Frozen!
If you don't have a freezer in your accommodation, beg, steal (don't) or borrow one. Freezers save so much money. For example, the casserole again:
5 frozen chicken breasts cost £2.87 whereas 5 fresh chicken breasts: £3.90.
1kg of frozen sweetcorn costs £1.48 whereas tinned sweetcorn would work out at £1.88 per kg.
1kg of frozen mixed peppers costs just £1.48 whereas ONE fresh pepper costs 68p.
1kg of frozen baby carrots costs £1.00. Fresh carrots are 80p/kg but you get three. Here you get a bag full.
1kg of frozen diced onions costs £1.50 whereas fresh diced onion costs £2.22 per kilogram.
Can you see a trend here people? That's an overall saving of over £4 for all the ingredients in the same quantity. That means that one portion of casserole, cooked from frozen ingredients, work out at less than 50p. That's a full, filling and healthy meal for less than 50p. You can't afford not to. If you're unlucky enough to live without a freezer and your landlord will allow your own electrical equipment, get a freezer for next to nothing (or even free!) from websites such as Freecycle or Craig's List.
3. Step Back and Compare.
Yesterday when I did my Asda shop online I wanted to buy Weetabix (or the cheaper version thereof). I noticed something quite interesting that I never had in the supermarket. 24 Wheat Bisks costs £1.00 whereas a pack of 48 costs £2.67. How can that be? Double the Weetabix, more than double the price? I think not. Buy two 24 packs if you want 48. Likewise, buy four 24 packs if you want 72. That works out even cheaper still. It's a little less practical to store but who really cares? Think of the money you're saving. That and you can play a rubbish version of Tetris whilst trying to get your 4 boxes of cereal into the cupboard. :)
4. Shed the Stigma.
There is nothing wrong with Smart Price / Basics / Tesco Value. Absolutely nothing. Don't be a food snob - for goodness sake, you're at university, you can't afford to be. Do you want to leave uni with a little bit of money saved up or do you want to waste £2 every time you buy branded Weetabix instead of Wheat Bisks? They're the same damn thing in a different packet. An uncle of mine worked in a biscuit factory. Every day he would package the exactly same biscuits into various different packages for all sorts of different brands. They were the same biscuits, all marketed at different prices for different companies. Even if you only save £2 every week that you swap products from branded to Smart Price you'll have saved over £100 per year. £100. What could you spend that on that you're wasting on a slightly more upmarket brand of beans? A bean is a bean no matter how you package it.
5. Price Comparison.
Take advantage of price comparison promotions, especially the Asda Price Guarantee. If your Asda shop isn't a full 10% cheaper than another leading supermarket, they'll give you a voucher back for the difference. Before now, we've had a £4 voucher from Asda to spend in store because their shop wasn't 10% cheaper. Even if Asda ARE cheaper but aren't a full 10% they'll still give you a voucher. What does it hurt? You either get a cheaper shop or a cheap shop and a voucher. Try it.
One more cheeky tip whilst we're at it: group together. Asda require a £25 shop to qualify for delivery. Don't think you'll spend that on your own? Don't have an Asda in your area? Get a group together. All do your shopping, split the delivery cost and you'll get the cheapest shop possible delivered to your door. Either that or do a fortnight's shopping at once. £25 is £12.50 a week. Think of how much more you'll spend when that nice bag of Cadbury's Buttons catches your eye on the way to the till. Online shopping solves that problem. No more overspending.