shopping on a budget

Shopping on a student budget

Shopping on a student budget is all about common sense. It’s very simple. The key is organisation and sacrifice. Being smart and thinking before you act.

Plan ahead in order to not find yourself with an empty fridge. Don’t give into peer pressure, just because the house is ordering a pizza it doesn’t mean you have to get involved…. Leave them to munch their circle of grease in front of the TV while you snack on a bowl of Greek yoghurt, berries and nuts as you get tomorrow’s assignment done. Prioritise quality food over expensive spirits and ‘procrastination foods’ and you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself. There is a choice here between buying a vodka and coke or a salmon tagliatelle, both costing around £10!


To make shopping more cost-effective, organise your groceries into three categories. Fruit & veg, meat/fish and the rest (whole grains, rice, oils, dried fruit, nuts, dairy).


Fruit & veg

Find a local market, where everything is usually ‘‘£1 a bowl’’. You’ll get  more bang for your buck at a market than in the supermarket. Markets are also great for finding quality fresh herbs such as mint, coriander and thyme, fresh garlic, onions and lemons that can all be expensive in the high street grocery stores. If you use these everyday in your cooking, buying them individually can add up over time. Our tip is to go in the last hour of the day, when you can definitely pick up a bargain or two!



If you have a few keen gym buddies or house mates, save money by going to the local butcher as a group, you’ll be surprised how much discount the butchers will offer if you buy a large amount of meat. By all chipping into a big order of chicken breasts you’ll get that price per kg right down. Even if you buy in bulk on your own, 9 times out of 10 it’ll still work out as better value for money than the supermarket. Similarly, your local fishmonger will have great quality and a large variety of seafood. Buying whole fish is cheaper, and the guy wearing the hat will always clean and cut the fish for you, if you ask him nicely. Become a regular and take your friends, and watch the loyalty discount appear! Make sure to freeze the excess, as you don’t want to confuse the flatmates with an organised but smelly fridge.



The rest

Aldi (or Lidl) is King! It is excellent quality and value for money. If you don’t have an Aldi near you then look for the nearest value supermarket. Buy the supermarkets own brand of dairy and the largest containers you can carry of the stuff that doesn’t go off. Alternatively, Amazon can be a great shout for buying large bulk bags of rice, nuts, dried fruits and the like. And, since it’s delivered it saves you from a torturous journey home carrying it all on your back!


Nutritious food doesn’t have to taste plain; adding flavour and variety to meals is simple. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the huge selection of fresh herbs and good quality spices that are available. Buy a few healthy carb sources such as basmati rice, wholemeal pasta and couscous in bulk and use them interchangeably. Have meat sources that you use continuously then save room to vary one or two meals week by week.


Other than fresh fruit and veg which should be bought at least once a week, the idea is to buy in bulk bulk bulk and occasionally, treat yourself to a 13 oz. steak or a pound of king prawns, be it for your own pleasure or to keep your mum happy when she comes to visit. Start taking advantage of the loan drop at the beginning of term to invest bulk, this will A) mean you never run out of chicken, and B) give you a well needed newsflash that you can’t splash all of your cash on fresher’s week club nights.



Sports Supplements

You should consider a few points before clicking ‘buy’ in your shopping cart! There is no need for a massive shelf full of supplements if you eat a balanced macro and micro rich diet. Avoid buying the latest mind-busting, vein popping, pump surging pre-workout supplements every month and instead prioritize the core essentials. To help you on your way to making the right choices here’s our top student sports supplements…


Milk based proteins (Whey/casein)

 Good quality milk proteins are rich in essential amino acids (EAAS) and also posses many immune boosting effects. They also contain the greatest density of leucine, which is the protein synthesis trigger. 2-3 g of Leucine is vital for triggering muscle protein synthesis. Whey is the faster digesting out of the two and, due to its higher leucine content, is a preferred choice for athletes to potently stimulate muscle protein synthesis during rest and post-exercise.



Caffeine, a naturally occurring timethyxanthine, is the most widely used drug in the world. It is a very effective at stimulating the central nervous system (CNS). Caffeine has been shown to successfully increase performance during endurance, power and strength exercises as well as helping you burn fat cells. Even though studies have shown marginal performance enhancing improvements; the placebo of drinking a strong coffee does work wonders. Now, there is no need to waste money every day on Starbucks! Whether it comes from a good quality instant coffee or those tablets we take before exams, caffeine is a winner!



One of the most widely studied supplements, creatine is found naturally in red meat and herring. Creatine has been shown to increase energy and speed up recovery and its use can lead to increased strength and lean muscle mass. In terms of it’s loading protocol, loading of 15-20g for the first 5-7 days and then a single 3-7g pulse post-workout will be sufficient. Creatine monohydrate is the best form to take and is cheaper than other, ‘’improved formulas’’ that keep appearing on the market. A good tip is to mix it with lukewarm water to increase solubility. There is no reason why you should not be taking creatine, it is not dangerous at all and can add some great spark to your training!


Fish oils

EPA and DHA are highly unsaturated, essential fatty acids that stand for eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Yes, that is mouthful! They’re called “essential” because your body can’t produce them on its own. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, tuna and of course, fish oil supplements. The omega-3 fats have been shown to turn on genes that increase fat loss and decrease fat storage, increase muscle recovery and growth, decrease inflammation, and support brain and bone health. If the thought of oily fish is off putting, then fish oils are a must!


Do men and women need different supplements?

The short answer is no. On a hormonal level, men and women differ greatly and women face some unique challenges. So, yes, if we’re talking women-specific health issues then there are health supplements, vitamins and minerals that may be of more benefit to women. But, if we’re talking about general health and fitness then no, all of the supplements that men typically use, will also be beneficial for women.


The take-home message is that supplements do as they say on the tin, they should supplement the diet, not replace it!



Useful links:

International society of sports nutrition journals (JISSN)

F: Med Nutrition

Twitter @MedNutrition

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