How to eat well on a student budget

how to eat well on a student budgetEating well is good for your health and happily you don’t have to be the next Jamie Oliver to eat well on a student budget. The key is to work out your food budget and stick to it. Here are ten tips for how to eat well on a student budget…

  1. Make a shopping list. Plan for the week ahead and do your food shopping in advance. This way you’ll avoid buying unnecessary extra items that may go to waste. Make your plan a flexible one. Some meals should be satisfying ones that you can prepare very quickly, like an omelette, a mixed bean salad or a simple stir fry. This way when life gets busy with other things you’ll have time to cook and eat well, and your ingredients won’t go to waste.

Also stock your food cupboard with a few long-life basics like pasta, rice and canned goods like fruit, tuna, tomatoes, beans of all kinds, lentils, part-baked bread and soup. With these basics you’ll always be able to rustle something up!

  1. Shop together. Plan meals together with friends and house mates to share the cost of ingredients.

Buying in bulk is often cheaper so club together for certain items and you’ll all save. It can be very cost effective to bulk buy essentials like oats, pasta, rice and washing powder, but do always check that the bulk deal really is the best one!

Some flat mates or friends set up a communal cooking schedule and eat together with everyone taking a turn cooking, either individually or in pairs. Cooking together is enjoyable and a great way to bond and to get to know people in the early days of uni life.

  1. Shop at the right time. You may find discount prices on perishables like bread and veg as store closing time approaches. Try shopping an hour ahead of closing time or after 7pm in 24hr stores. On a related note, our closest supermarket is M&S but that isn’t the cheapest one. Aldi, Co-Op, Lidl and Tesco Extra are all within walking distance of our campus.

4. Don’t shop when you’re hungry! You will be more likely to buy things that you do not need.

5. Make your own lunch. Making your own lunch (this could be leftovers or a homemade sandwich) can easily save you a pound or two per day compared to buying ready-made food on the go. It adds up to hundreds of pounds saved across the year.

Also, buy a reusable hot flask or water bottle to stop you buying drinks while you’re out. It’ll pay for itself in no time (and it’s better for the environment too!).

  1. Buy own brand or value products. These products are often extremely similar to branded alternatives and you won’t be able to taste the difference.

7. Cook from scratch. Prepare your own meals to save on expensive meals out, take-outs and ready meals. It is not just the cheaper option but a healthy one too as you’ll know exactly what goes into your meals. If you’re new to cooking you could start with pasta because it’s easy to cook from scratch and so many things go with it. Meals like chilli and curry can be cooked in bulk so you can freeze portions to use for quick meals over the next few weeks.

  1. Cook vegetarian meals. Veggie meals are tasty, quick to make and often cost less to make than meaty meals. Stick to vegetables that are in season in the UK as those will generally be cheaper and kinder to the environment than those flown in from overseas. You can get your protein hit from eggs, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans etc), seeds and canned fish etc. So why not cook a vegetarian meal at least a couple of times per week?

marjon allotmentIf you’re really keen on vegetables you can even join the Marjon allotment (pictured) to grow your own!

  1. Buy frozen fruit and vegetables. Quick-frozen produce is often just as nutritious as fresh and you can take out only what you need so you’re potentially reducing your food waste, helping you to save money. Frozen fruit and vegetables usually work out cheaper than fresh too.
  2. The Dining-In-Scheme keeps you eating. This prepaid scheme is our way of helping you keep costs down, and managing your money when it comes to keeping yourself well fed. For first years the scheme is obligatory and it’s optional for all other students. It gives you around £19.50 per week to spend on campus on food, enough to buy one main meal per day. This means you’ll keep eating even if you’re spent all your money elsewhere.

I hope some of the ideas above help you. You might have noticed that they all share one thing and this is that planning ahead is key!

For great recipes and resources on eating well for students check out Save The Student, or see the supermarket section of

For advice on managing their money Marjon students can contact Student Funding Advice in the Student Support team on


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