Feeling full for half the price…

Let’s get one thing straight; I love food. Literally, I never get full, I will eat and eat and eat, and still want more. I could eat for England. In fact, I could eat for the World. But sadly, being a student, I can’t afford to eat as much as I would like. And this is a problem faced by many people who are feeling the pocket-pinch.

High rent prices and the rising cost of bills means that many people are faced with the prospect of eating less in order to pay for other essentials. But this doesn’t have to be the case. In my quest to eat as much as I can, for as little as I can, I have found one very good way of keeping my student tummy satisfied – eating reduced price food.

Be supermarket savvy

Over my past three years at university I’ve found that going to supermarkets at precisely the right time can make you some massive savings. At around 3pm and 7pm every day, supermarkets will reduce the price of hundreds of products that are going out of date that day, or if the packaging is damaged, in order to sell it all off.

There are three main food sectors which supermarkets tend to reduce, these are:

REFRIGERATED GOODS

–       Salads

–       Yoghurts

–       Desserts

–       Ready meals

–       Sandwiches

BAKED GOODS

–       Cakes

–       Bread

–       Pastries

DRY GOODS

–       Multipack crisps

–       Chocolate

–       Tea bags and coffee

–       Cereal

–       Household items

Dry goods is where I usually pick up my best bargains, this section has the most variety; Over the past week I’ve picked up three boxes of cereal, four multipacks of cereal bars, pasta, pasta sauce, soup, toothpaste and bin bags. Even though this is a rather random offering of products I’ve now built up quite a collection in my cupboard which will keep me going for a while. For example, my breakfasts for the foreseeable future are sorted, as are my snacks for class.

It’s not just snacks I’ve stocked up on either, by picking up reduced priced ingredients that are normally too expensive for my student budget, quite often I manage to pull together some pretty wicked meals. Even if the ingredients go off that day, you can make up a batch of dinners and freeze them – you’re now the owner of a personalised collection of ready meals! (Check out my photo gallery for some cut price dinner ideas!)

Saving the planet and your stomach

Shockingly the average household throws away 24 meals every month, which means one fifth of what we buy goes straight into the bin. Eating reduced food means we are stopping it from being sent to landfill by the supermarkets – it’s an all round winner, we’re not only saving money but also the environment.

But there is still more we can do. Emma Marsh of the food waste campaign organisation WRAP says; “The majority of us still say we waste no or very little food and yet as a nation we’re throwing away 4.2 million tonnes of good food and drink a year.”

It’s not just down to us though, supermarkets are also to blame for the UK’s shocking food waste figures. Through aggressive selling tactics such as ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘3 for 2’, supermarkets encourage people to buy more than they need – the shopper can’t resist picking up the extra when it’s going cheap, but ultimately these items often go uneaten and eventually into the bin.

Steven Hawkes, who works at FoodCycle – a charity which takes unused food to those in poverty –  encourages people to cut down on waste by “not being tempted by supermarket BOGOF offers.” Steering clear of these promotions will mean we save our own money and the environment too; if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

So, my top tips for saving your student tummy, your pocket and the planet are:

–       Shop in the reduced sections and stock up.

–       Cook batch meals and freeze them.

–       Don’t be tempted by offers.

Here is a recipe for one of my favourite meals to cook in a batch and eat throughout the week; but, please remember that  I am not a cooking expert by any means. I have adapted the recipe from my Vegetarian Nosh for Students book – Thai Veggie Curry. The ingredients I used this time were a mixture of reduced price items, basics range and whatever was on offer.

Ingredients:

–       Thai red curry paste (£2)

–       Light coconut milk (Reduced to £1.17)

–       Basics peppers (£1.45)

–       Basics chopped tomatoes (45p)

–       Mixed vegetables – this time I used mange tout and baby sweet corn (£1.50 on offer)

Total £6.57

This batch usually lasts me about four days, that’s just £1.64 per meal.

As I am a vegetarian I don’t include meat, for a little bit of extra money you can add in some chicken or a meat of your choice. Sometimes I like to bulk the dish out with butternut squash or sweet potato – this is always super yummy!

Method:

Heat up a pan with some oil. Mid heat.

Chop up your veggies and add 3 mixed peppers to your pan.

Stir these up a bit until they start to soften. Add in any other vegetables you have.

After your veggies have been in the pan for about 5 minutes, pour in the chopped tomatoes. Leave to simmer for a few more minutes before adding in the coconut milk.

Next add 2-3 tablespoons of the curry paste, I like mine spicy so I normally add three.

Stir up your curry and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper if you wish.

Your delicious Thai veg curry is ready!

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