FROM FRESH: AN INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING MAGAZINE FOR POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS

Penny pincher: Cooking up tasty treats on the cheap

The days when students survived on beans on toast are long gone. Nowadays you're more likely to be saving the pennies with a jar of pesto and a jumbo-size packet of pasta. Or working your way through the various flavours of three-minute noodles. But there are ways to cook with equipment other than a kettle and a sieve - and save money at the same time.

According to Barclays Bank, the average UK student has spending money of between £30 and £60 a week after accommodation. This is taking into account a full student loan as well as extra money which students might get from working or from generous parents. You don't need us to spell it out for you, but in case you do - that's not much. Particularly if you plan to feed yourself and have a social life.

A number of universities suggest allocating around £35 a week for food. If you want to spend a pub-less, full-fridge first term then go ahead and follow this advice. But believe us when we tell you that you can eat well on substantially less than this. With an SAS level of planning and a highly developed shopping list, some dedicated students maintain that you can eat on as little as £10 a week, although £20 is a lot more realistic. The key to sticking to this amount, however, is all about planning. You'll need to decide more or less exactly which meals you'll be eating. And if you don't plan on shopping more than once a week then you'll also want to schedule meals to use up perishable ingredients first - yes it does get that boring. The general rule is - plan meals, list ingredients, buy only these and eat everything you buy. "I was spending about £35 a week on food in my first term", says Nottingham University student Anna Reed. "Although to be honest, a lot of that was takeaways. Now I make a list and try to stick to it, and it's brought the figure down to about £25 a week - which is not bad."

Once you've resigned yourself to the nerdy practice of making a list and sticking to it there's the small task of deciding what you're going to eat. The obvious candidates for cheap, quick food are pasta, sliced bread, tinned tomatoes, tuna, and beans. But you can also save a lot of money with some basic home-cooking. Making your own bolognaise sauce, for example, can be as simple as adding a stock cube and a sprinkle of dried herbs. Or buy a tub of condensed Thai curry paste which can make at least 30 portions for the same price of a two-portion supermarket version.

Ethnic stores are also great places to stock up on store cupboard essentials. You can buy Asian ingredients like dried black beans, soy sauce and oyster sauce in big cheap bottles from Chinese supermarkets, and Indian supermarkets house all manner of excellent value curry powders and rice. Don't forget your local market either. Most vegetables are a third cheaper than the supermarkets and larger food markets can sell you single-person potions of cheese and eggs in quantities less than six. Essentially, you can't save money and time, but as a student, you have plenty of the latter. So take advantage of your ability to spend a morning sourcing food from the cheapest places. You might even find you like it.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Trainee Software Developer / Graduate Developer / Junior Software Engineer

£13 - 16k + Training & Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We have a unique oppo...

MBDA UK Ltd: Electronic Test Systems - Graduate 2015

Competitive Salary & Benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: Role Purpose: Exciting opportunit...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate