A drastic rise in food prices has meant we are all finding our food shop more expensive – from December 2021 to January 2022 265 groceries had a price spike of more than 20% (Which?). With the global food prices reaching their highest ever level in March 2022 (World Economic Forum) it means that it is likely that you have experienced this for yourself. Food poverty is a serious issue that affects one in five households in England, one of the five top richest countries in the world (World Population Review ).
Your latest student loan instalment may look like very generous funding, but you’ll be surprised how quickly it can be used up – it is imperative you don’t sacrifice nutrition and your wellbeing for financial stability, and we urge you to remember that the university and SUBU are here to help. More information can be found on the SUBU website and the BU financial support web pages, or you can contact them directly:
Forewarned is forearmed
While it is good to plan and be prepared before and during shopping, being smart with your food once you’re at home is equally as important:
- Remember that products displaying ‘best before’ dates are fine to use later (all that will happen is that some flavour will be lost), and ‘use by’ dates can be frozen on the last day but can´t be eaten after the date (Food Standards Agency).
- A great way to socialise with your housemates and develop your friendship is to cook communally. If done well it can mean a cheaper food bill (due to bulk buying), and fewer days you have to cook in a week.
- However, whether because you are living alone, have no time, or don’t gel with your household, consider batch cooking once or twice a week – this is especially useful if you are very busy and know you will be too tired to eat properly. An added benefit of this is freezing leftovers will allow you to substitute any shop-bought ready meals with a healthier alternative you’ve pre-made.
- Freezing in general is an excellent resource and is recommended for most perishables like fruit and veg as it generally helps keep the nutrients better preserved.
How much you have or need to spend on food is personal to everyone, especially as your physiology and level of activity will indicate how much food your body needs. A good starting point though is to start with your term income and divide it by the number of weeks it needs to cover. You should then do the same with your termly expenses, then subtract your expenses from your income and that´s your weekly budget for day-to-day things, including food. Budgets are an imperative tool, as they help you avoid overspending, make you feel proactive, and support you to understand your income and money through practice.
And remember, shop smart!
We all know the significance food can have to our mental health and general wellbeing, but did you know that eating healthy is cheaper when done properly? Consider these tips when planning your food shop.
- Take cash rather than card. Not only is cash more tangible but it is a good way to visualise what you’re spending before you get to the tills. If you are using this approach, remember that taking a limited amount of cash can make you anxious, so check with yourself if it’s the best tactic for you as an individual.
- Do one big shop a week – while you must be careful you don’t overbuy and end up wasting food, this is the quickest, easiest way to manage costs, and has the bonus that it will save you a lot of time in the long-run.
- For perishables, consider buying in your local farmer’s market (ie. like the farmer’s market in Boscombe will sell produce bowls for a £1, or two bowls for a £1 closer to the end of the day). These tend to be cheaper and are great to chop up and freeze, or batch-cook with, but again, be careful not to overdo it, and make sure you store items properly, so they stay fresh if possible.
- Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach and consider taking a list if you are easily distracted with the options, you have available.
- Similarly, online shopping is a great way to avoid overspending as you are conscious of the total before you go to your cart. However, do remember that delivery costs will vary, and consider only doing so if it still works out the same or cheaper.