Monday, 24 August 2015

Mini Series : Affordable Food at University

Here in the UK, it's coming close to thousands of students leaving the safety of their childhood homes and living on their own for the very first time. 
Three years ago, that was me. I trundled in to my new house, wide eyed at my new housemates, wondering how on Earth I was going to survive being over 200 miles from home. 
One of the issues I had for the first few months happened to be cooking. I wouldn't say I was lacking in knowledge, however I spent a lot of time in my room watching tv (Top tip, go and socialise with your housemates!) and wanted things I could whack in the oven and then take out 20 minutes later. This resulted in me eating my body weight in chips, pizza and processed crap. 
Once I had settled in to my university environment and had become good friends with my housemates, I started to cook properly again, which was always an experience when there was 9 people trying to use two ovens! 
However, many potential university students seem to think that moving away from home means you can no longer eat healthy meals at a reasonable price - wrong. In all my years at uni, I have never and will never eat a pot noodle, a pasta shot or basic range chicken. 
 This mini series is going to include healthy and affordable meals, along with tips on how to save money!
Below are some ways in which I found I could save money on my shopping bill which may be useful for some of you!

1. Have a browse of the discounted food on a Sunday afternoon 
Unsurprisingly, shops want to get rid of their leftover produce on a Sunday afternoon, and will often reduce meat to a fraction of the original price. I managed to get a whole chicken which fed me and my housemate for several meals for £1.99 a few weeks ago, it's always worth going to have a look if you have a free afternoon as you can find some good quality meat to freeze! (Note ; always check the sell by date on meat, you don't want to make yourself ill!!) 

2. Make batches of food to freeze and reheat at a later date
Let's be honest, unless you've got a monster apetite, you won't be able to eat a whole block of minced meat in one sitting! So instead of wasting meat or trying to eat portions way above what you can muster, make a meal in bulk (such as chilli con carne) and then freeze the leftover portions for a later date, simple!

3. Flat meals 
Last year the boys in my house used to have 'Fajita Fridays' and would each contribute something to the meal whilst using something of someone else's. Usually one of them would buy the peppers, the other the onions and the tortilla wraps and somebody would offer up the chicken. They always made too much and whacked some in the fridge for their lunch the next day, but flat meals are such a good idea, especially if there are a lot of you! Below is a Christmas meal we all chipped in for, between the 9 of us it cost around £5 each and we were all so full we couldn't move for a few hours after.

4. Bulk buying meat
At my local butchers, they do bulk packages of meat for amazing prices - it pays to buy in bulk! If you don't live near a butchers then  do an awful lot of meat bundles which get delivered straight to your door, what more could you need?!

5. Lidl and Aldi 
Before moving to university I hadn't really gone shopping in a Lidl or an Aldi, and I still didn't in my first year of uni. Fast forward to second year and I trundled along one evening with a few of my housemates who swore by the Aldi near our house. When we got there I was amazed at the prices, how were things so cheap? You could pick up pretty much any supermarket brand in Aldi which they had transformed to an 'Aldi's own' for a fraction of the price. If you're moving to a new area for uni I suggest you check out if you have a local Lidl or Aldi, a perfect way to save money!

6. And finally..always shop with a list
This probably sounds like a really stupid suggestion, but I'm an impulse buyer so unless I have a list to follow, then I will pick up at least £10 worth of food which I didn't need and usually will regret by the time I get home. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be releasing several meal ideas which are cheap and healthy to use whilst at university, so enjoy! 

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