Want to eat well on a budget? Push is here to help banish those rumbly tummies.
An hour or two before closing, supermarkets mark down some of their goods, usually stuff that’s heading fast towards its sell-by date.
Like hyenas to the waterhole, scavenging hoards of bargain-hungry students have been known to descend on Tesco of an evening in the hope of bagging a few half-price items. But make sure you eat them before they go off.
What’s more, supermarkets always have various special offers going, but some are more special than others. Keep your eyes peeled for those that are actually worth something, especially ‘bogofs’ (buy one get one free).
Don’t shop while you’re hungry – you’ll end up with twice as much stuff as you need in your basket.
Collect coupons from magazines, flyers or from the sides of packets – or anywhere so long as it cuts the price. And remember to take them with you when you go shopping.
On the other hand, don’t buy stuff just because it’s marked down or on special offer or you’ve got a coupon. It’s not enough that it’s cheaper than usual. It’s got to be cheaper than other things.
A reduced price frozen pack of macaroni cheese is probably still three times the price of one you could make for yourself.
Most supermarkets offer a loyalty card of some sort which in the end gives you money off.
They’re all a bit of a rip off, because presumably you end up paying for any loyalty card deals by paying higher prices in the first place, but that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the system. Why should you be the one who pays extra for everyone else’s discounts?
Don’t over-order at restaurants – the ‘eyes bigger than belly’ syndrome. Of if you do, ask for a doggy bag (you’re a student – you have no shame, remember?). If you’re eating out, exploit all-you-can-eat buffets to an almost criminal degree.
Any ready-made sandwiches that cost more than 50p are a con. You can make your own with whatever fillings you want for just a few pence.
Learn to cook before you leave home and don’t try to save money by eating less or only eating plain pasta. Food is your fuel. Try putting lighter fluid in a Formula One car and you won’t get top performance.
Team up with housemates to form a cooking syndicate. Cooking for one is expensive and, besides, a rota means that you only have the hassle of cooking once in a while.
What’s more, if you only know how to do spag bol, you might get to try someone else’s speciality once in a while.
If a cooking syndicate doesn’t appeal (it may turn out that your housemate’s idea of cordon bleu is cremated bread with spaghetti hoops), how about cooking in bulk – make big casseroles that will last you a few days. Especially good if you’ve got a freezer and/or a microwave.
Remember to refrigerate leftovers, especially if they contain meat. Then remember to eat them before they go off.
Although eating like a veggie is a good option, even on a budget the devoted flesh-feeder doesn’t have to give up sausages and bacon.
Rice, beans, lentils and pasta are words that most carnivores don't use very often, but they’re a staple in most students’ diets. They contain lots of carbs and goodness, they’re very versatile and, when you get used to the taste, actually quite yummy.
University is not the time to get hooked on a high protein diet. All that meat, cheese and fish doesn’t come cheap. Unless a can of tuna a day is your idea of a satisfying menu, save cutting the carbs until you have the salary to treat yourself to fillet steaks and fresh mozzarella.
Take advantage of the pre-term parental trolley dash and bulk up supplies of more expensive condiments and kitchen stables such as herbs and soy sauce, that won't come in a value range - or will really taste like they're from a value range.
Head to the local market for cheaper and fresher fruit, veg and meat.
Adapt fancy recipes to suit your budget - there's no point forking out for dried, truffle mushrooms when you could buy standard 'shrooms for your shepherd's pie.
Student Survival: The Push Guide to Money (2005)
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