The Frugal Student’s Survival Guide: Part Two - Food

This is the second part of Mozo’s Frugal Student’s Survival Guide. Read the first part (where we tackled the money sinkhole that is textbook shopping) here.

No matter how tight your finances are, you’ve gotta eat. Unfortunately, food costs money, and you probably don’t have a lot of that. Here’s how to end up with money for more than a pack of 2 minute noodles at the end of the week.

Spending less at the checkout

Write a shopping list: If you go into the supermarket with nothing but an empty stomach, chances are you will come out with a few more pastries from the bakery than you originally planned. Avoid impulse purchases by writing a shopping list. Check the pantry and the fridge before you leave, and only buy what you need.

Stay on top of supermarket specials: You know those catalogues that clog up your mailbox? Don’t throw them out. Instead, scour their pages for discounts and two-for-one deals. If buying two boxes of muesli bars will save you $3 over the two weeks it takes you to eat them, that’s $3 you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Buy in bulk: With Costco outlets opening across Australia, bulk buying at the supermarket is now easier than ever. Get some mates together and split the cost of a ten-pack of orange juice between you for some serious savings. And you get to play with their oversized shopping trolleys! Win-win!

Saving money beyond the weekly food shop:

Freeze everything: One of the hardest things about cooking as a student is that, often, you’re the only diner, and packet portions and recipe books tend not to be ‘loner-friendly’. The freezer is a great place to store everything from loaves of bread, to the fruits of a Sunday spent slaving over the stove cooking meals for the week.

Repurpose your leftovers: Keep dinner leftovers for an easy lunch the next morning. If you think you’ll need to keep that spag bol a little longer, you know what to do: throw it in the freezer.

Cut back on eating out: Time for some tough love. Even if we take the best case scenario and say that you only spend $10 each time you eat out (which, unless your diet is exclusively Pad Thai and coke cans, seems a little improbable), if you do this for lunch and dinner Monday-Friday you’re losing $100 a week. That’s more than a single person would spend on a weekly grocery shop, and you aren’t even eating breakfast! Find yourself in fewer dumpling bars midweek and you’ll have more money in your wallet when the weekend rolls around.

If you’re going to eat out, be smart about it: Of course, you are still allowed to leave the house. Eating your main meal in the middle of the day is always going to be the cheapest option, as many restaurants offer lunch specials which cost less than half of the dinner price. For take out options, search Menulog for local specials and discounts near you.