55 ways to save money on food
There are so many different ways you can save money on food costs, but the biggest saving hack of them all is to know every trick in the book!
Credit: Lauri Rantala – Flickr
One of the biggest shocks about starting uni is when you realise how much it actually costs to feed yourself.
According to our yearly money survey, students spend on average £124 a month on food alone – that's more cash than they spend on anything else apart from rent!
And with inflation going up, it's likely that food will only get more expensive, so you need this guide now more than ever! Put these tips into practice and you could easily save hundreds of £££ a year.
55 ways to keep food costs to a minimum
At the supermarket
- Downshift to value brands – a lot of your basic foods can be bought from the value range, and you genuinely won't be able to tell the difference. Use our guide on downgrading your supermarket brands to find out more
- Become a ‘Whoops Warrior' – many supermarkets sell food that's past the sell-by date at a cheaper price. One shopping ninja we spoke to feeds her family exclusively on reduced grub for just £20 a week!
- Compare products across different supermarkets using mysupermarket – one of our favourite money-saving apps
- Shop at supermarkets that offer a student discount – find out which supermarkets currently offer it
- Find out if you have a ‘pay as you feel' supermarket near where you live
- Shop online at Approved Foods, which sells grub that's close to/past its sell-by for around a third of the price
- Write a shopping list before going to the supermarket – and try not to deviate from it!
- Set a weekly budget, and stick to it
- Don't fall for the these dirty tricks supermarkets pull to try and make you spend more money
- Use budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl
- Shop at the right time of day – different supermarkets tend to reduce items at certain points of the day. We have the inside scoop
- Make sure you know your consumer rights when it comes to buying consumables, and return any food that's substandard
- If you're shopping at food markets, don't forget to haggle! Here's how to do it like a pro
- Take advantage of new customer discounts with online grocery delivery services
- Use coupons – keep your eyes peeled for coupons that can be cut out from newspapers and magazines and used for money off in food shops, and check couponing sites for codes that can be used online
- Get cashback on your shopping using apps like checkoutsmart
- Buy in bulk (but only when it makes sense) – particularly with your toilet paper… trust us on this one!
- Think seasonally when you shop – when certain foods are in season, they'll be cheaper. If you end up with way too much of one type of food as a result – freeze until you need it!
- Never go to the supermarket when you're hungry
- Try the £10 a week challenge – we did!
- Buy meat in bigger cuts and make it last – for example, buy a whole chicken and use the breasts and thighs for a few dinners, use the extras for your lunch sandwiches, then boil up what's left and use as stock for soups
- Buy frozen fruit and veg instead of fresh – you won't believe how much cheaper frozen can be
- Check out the ‘world' or ‘ethnic' sections of the supermarket – sometimes the prices of basics like rice can be cheaper
- Shop at wholesalers like Costco with your housemates and share the cost
- Never pay for plastic bags! not only is it a waste of 5p, but they're bad for the environment too
- Buy tinned food when you can as this lasts… well, forever really.
In the kitchen
- Bring food back from the dead – Don’t throw food out as soon as its past it’s ‘best before’ date – here's how you can bring food back from the dead!
- Freeze everything that's freezable – Making use of your freezer will save you a shed load in the long run. The trick it to always freeze things in portions, and knowing what's freezable and what's not
- Make sure you're using storage tricks to make food last – your food can last weeks (or even months!) longer than expected
- Learn to cook – learning some decent budget recipes will save you shed loads if you can ditch overpriced supermarket meals-for-one. This cooking guide will get you started
- Plan your meals for the week, shop accordingly and use the freezer when necessary
- Take turns cooking with your housemates – just make sure you take turns washing up too!
- Grow your own food at home – no garden necessary
- Have frugal days to counteract days when you eat out or spend money going out drinking
- Do a stock take before going to the supermarket – and let this dictate your shop/meals for the week
- Become a reducetarian! Reduce your intake of meat to save on cash and be kinder to the planet – it's all the rage these days!
- Crank up your frugal student food game by making one of these fancy dinner recipes with baked beans
- Invest in decent tupperware so you can take lunches into uni – and never buy lunch on campus
- Don't obsess about best before dates – just use your eyes, your nose and your common sense
- Chip in for basics and bulks with your housemates
- Host ‘bring a plate' parties and live off the leftovers for the rest of the week
- Buy dried beans instead of tinned – all you have to do is soak them over night and they're the same thing!
- Invest in a slow cooker – even the cheapest of meats taste amazing when they've been cooked for 12 hours
- Regrow food from roots and scraps – celery, avocado and roman lettuce are just a few that will regrow if you look after them right
- Love beer? Brew your own at home for 18p a pint.
- Max out on all-you-can-eat buffets – you can't take home a doggy bag, but you can certainly get your money's worth
- Use loyalty cards for money off and freebies – here's a list of the best ones currently out there
- Sign up for freebies – this ultimate list is the perfect place to start!
- Get a part-time job in a cafe or restaurant that feed staff meals during breaks (and lets you take leftovers home)
- Look for deals! Simple but effective – sign up to our weekly deals roundup newsletter or follow our Facebook page for daily deals
- Become a mystery diner and you'll get your meals out in restaurants free of charge
- Don't be embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag! That's tomorrow night's dinner right there
- Eat out on your birthday – there are so many places you can get a free meal on your birthday. Hope you're hungry!
- Follow all your favourite food brands, cafes and restaurants on social media so you're first to hear about freebies and competitions
- Forage for free food – you'd be surprised at how many edibles you can pick in rural areas.
Have you got any of your own tips for saving money on food? Sharing is caring! Let us know in the comments below.