Sometimes it can feel that being a postgraduate student while managing finances is an art form. In current times, it is hard to focus on what we need as an individual and how to make the most of the money we harbour as students, whether that be from a student loan, parental help or savings.
Here are a few tips which I hope will be helpful to save money on food and drink as a postgraduate. As a student, it is essential to be healthy, socialise and look after yourself which is why, although saving money can be advantageous, it’s important not to skimp too much and risk affecting your social life and physical wellbeing.
Buying and cooking food
There is no better start to saving money on food as a student as learning how to cook and to also learn about nutrition. Learning to cook healthy meals with natural ingredients will not only be rewarding for your mind and body but won’t burn a hole in your pocket either!
I recommend starting with a budget, which will be your weekly available spendings on food and ingredients. Firstly, try local supermarkets as they often provide basic healthy resources in bulk such as rice, oats, pasta, noodles and potatoes. They also provide canned goods and depending on your diet and personal choices, supermarkets are a great easy way to buy most of your weekly needs.
I also recommend looking at the local greengrocers and fresh produce stalls in your town. Seasonal vegetables are usually cheaper here. If the fruit and vegetables are very ripe, another option is to freeze them (depending on the food!). They can then easily be added to dishes when cooking.
Depending on your dietary needs or choices, you may find it easier to do a shared shop with a friend, and learn to cook together. It may work out cheaper for you both and the social aspect of making a meal together will be very rewarding too.
Dietary choices and eating healthier
At first glance, healthy food often gives the impression that it may be more costly than an ‘average’ student weekly shop. This couldn’t however, be further away from the truth. Healthy foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, pulses are very cheap and can often be bought in bulk, which can stretch your money further.
If you are studying full time, it is essential to give your body and mind the vital vitamins and resources that they need to thrive. If you read a little into basic nutrition, you will find that a healthy diet must consist of a wide range of foods.
Going vegan or vegetarian can also improve your food spendings as a student.
Eight tips for eating healthily (nhs.uk)
Buy fewer takeaways and drink less alcohol
It’s nice to treat yourself occasionally to a takeaway, or a couple of drinks with friends as the pub. Depending on your region, however, it can slowly start to burn a hole in your pocket with regular occurrence.
When out with friends, perhaps have one or two drinks and try to make them last, or eat a meal before a night out with friends to avoid the spend on a large takeaway towards the end of the evening. By being less focused on what the effect alcohol will have on you, it will help your focus settle more on the present and being in company with friends. It is essential also if you do drink alcohol, to drink water throughout the evening, so to not suffer too much from alcohols’ dehydrating qualities!
Perhaps you could also suggest having social meetings in the daytime in a cafe or going round to a friend’s accommodation or house. These setting are more relaxed, and there is less pressure to spend money.
Waste not, want not!
One of the easiest ways you can save money on food when on the move or between classes is to bring in your own snacks and meals by packing them up before leaving for a university that morning. By bringing in your own food, you’ll not only be less likely to buy food on campus, but you may also be reducing waste if you use leftover from the night before or from a party or social gathering.
You can also bring in your own coffee and tea in a reusable cup or insulated flask.
By choosing what you eat, you’ll also be able to make healthy choices and refrain from the temptation of unhealthy foods and drink which may not be so good for you or your savings.
Simple, healthy easy choices over time can hopefully make a significant difference and can hopefully result in a healthy mind, body and wallet.
Read more student blogs about managing your money at uni