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The ultimate student guide to saving money on groceries

This autumn, students across the UK are getting settled into their new terms during a cost of living crisis. Many students are feeling the pressure of financial independence during a time where basic living costs are at a historic high.

81% of young people feel anxious about money and finance, according to the London Institute of Finance and Banking’s Young Persons’ Money Index. In this guide, we detail some ways that students can save money on their grocery shopping. 

Cook with your flatmates

By sharing your grocery bills with flatmates, students can make large savings over the course of a year. Often meals require specific ingredients that might only get used in very few recipes. Instead of buying entire jars of niche ingredients, you can split the costs with your flatmates and cook together.

Even basic ingredients such as rice can be cheaper when bought in bulk. Asian supermarkets often stock huge bags of rice at discounted prices. Family packs tend to be cheaper per unit than buying smaller versions meant for one person.

Shop at the big supermarkets

Many university campuses have express supermarkets onsite or nearby. This can be convenient for students to pick up some supplies right after class. While this is alright for picking up the odd item, students can save money by doing their big weekly shop in the bigger supermarkets that might be a bit further out.

Shops like Aldi and Lidl tend to be the cheapest, but in general, most of the big supermarkets will be cheaper than small express stores.

Bring lunch and coffee to class

By pre-packing your lunch and coffee, you could make significant weekly savings. The cost of making a sandwich and coffee at home is significantly lower than buying the same things at campus cafes or vending machines.

This also gives you the option to completely customise your food as you wish, without paying extra for things like vegan milk in your coffee, or extra protein in your salad.

Shop in the evening

Supermarkets tend to add ‘reduced’ stickers to produce that need to be sold quickly, before their expiration dates. They tend to do this towards the end of the day, so you’ll be more likely to grab a bargain in the evenings.

By shopping in the evenings, you can make huge savings on baked goods, fresh fish, and meat. These can be stocked up in your freezer for later in the week, if needed.

You can also find these stickers on slightly faulty products, such as food with damaged packaging. As long as there is no risk of contamination, this is a good way to save money on your groceries.

Get a loyalty card

Loyalty schemes (for example Tesco Clubcards, Nectar cards at Sainsbury’s, and myLidl) can be a great way to save money on groceries and basics. These schemes allow shoppers to build points over time and have access to exclusive savings.

Over time, these points add up. They can be used on future shops, or on vouchers for experiences and meals out. Essentially, supermarkets reward your loyalty with ‘free money’.