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Your Weekly Food Shop

Due to the rising cost of living, paying attention to your finances as a student may feel more important than ever. However, one unavoidable area of spending is your weekly grocery shop. With some forward planning, and some of these tips and tricks, you can shop smart and save some money, even on your bare necessities.


Loyalty Cards/Points


One way you can save money on your food shop is through loyalty cards.


Loyalty cards and apps are offered by most major supermarkets and offer different discounts and benefits when you make purchases in store. Each brand can offer their own loyalty card and there is no limit on how many loyalty cards you can accept.


Loyalty cards usually take the form of a physical card (similar to a debit or credit card), or an app that you can download on your phone or device.


Loyalty cards work by building up “points” every time you spend at the store and present your loyalty card or app at the check-out. For example, every time you spend a pound you might receive a certain number of points in return – and as Ant and Dec once said, PoInTs MaKe PrIzEs!


Loyalty schemes can often reward shoppers with vouchers to reduce the amount of their total spend, cashback, or exclusive discounts and deals that you might find are worth signing up for. Points can take a little while to build up, especially if you are shopping shrewdly, but over time you may find that they significantly reduce the cost of your weekly shop.


Student Discounts


Student Discounts are concessions offered on products and services exclusively for those who are currently studying in the UK.


Typically speaking, where a student discount is offered by a brand or a store, a percentage may be taken from the total cost of your baskets. Not all companies will offer a student discount, but some companies are aware that students have to budget and spend responsibly, and often keen to maintain a relationship with you while you are at University.


Student discounts are offered by hundreds of retail stores and sites. To redeem them you may be able to use either your Cardiff University Student Card, but sometimes they require you to be a member of TOTUM to access these benefits (please see a link to this card below).


For online discounts and additional deals, consider:


  • TOTUM card./ The new NUS Extra card;
  • Uni Days App;
  • Student Beans;
  • International Student Identity Card - This offers thousands of discounts in more than 130 countries.


Please don’t be afraid to enquire about a student discount. Remember to ask at the point of sale whether a store offers student discounts, as it won’t always be advertised. You should not be judged for seeking out the best price for your items!


Meal Planning


Meal planning is not just for gym enthusiasts!


Working out what kind of meals and snacks you like to eat and planning out the required ingredients before you hit the shops can save you time and money.


It can be easier to manage your budget when you know that you have purchased all the food you will need for a week. This will avoid midnight visits to your local corner shop which can sometimes be more expensive that the bigger stores with more varied products and competitive prices.


Shopping at convenience stores can be far more expensive than the bigger supermarkets so purchasing your snacks and treats as part of your weekly shop may help you to feel more in control of your finances. 


In addition to the above, have you thought about sharing your catering with your friends or flatmates? This could save you money off your food and energy bill if you take it in turns and pool your resources to feed the group. And, eating in is often a cheaper than going out for food and drinks – especially if you find that you are socialising on the reg.


Shopping Smart


Most supermarkets reduce food approaching its best before date. If you hit the shops during the evening, you are more likely to find discounted food, often identifiable by bright reduction labels. Buying food at its best before date, and freezing things to use later can stretch your budget further.


In some supermarkets, ‘wonky vegetable boxes’ are for sale near the tills and are full of loose produce that is sold for a lower price than those that you find in the bigger bundles.


If you are feeling flexible with your diet, following in-store discounts and seasonal produce could reduce your weekly food bill.


Food Collection Apps


Have a look on your app store for apps that allow you to purchase unsold food before it goes to waste. Some apps can enables users to discover unsold food from restaurants in their city and collect food the same day for a greatly discounted price.


Comparing Prices and the Student Advice Basket Challenge


At Student Advice we hosted a Basket Challenge during Fresher’s Week where we encouraged students to guess the price difference between two grocery baskets: One contained branded items while the other contained a store’s ‘own-brand’ items. This year, both baskets were purchased from the same supermarket, but the difference between the branded and non-branded food shops was a whopping £20.74!


When it comes to saving money on your weekly shop it is worth comparing prices both between stores, and between similar products on the shelves in the same supermarket. 


Price comparison websites also allow you to compare grocery prices from supermarkets across the UK and can help you to create smart shopping lists that help you identify the best price for the item that you’re seeking.


You can also consciously search for the home-bran version of your cupboard staples. We would encourage you to try the cheaper versions of items you usually buy, and if you don’t notice the difference, you might find that this is a permanent saving for your weekly shop!


In summary:

  1. Plan ahead – think about the ingredients that you need for the week, and which recipes will help you use up all the ingredients before they reach their sell-by date.
  2. Pool your resources – cook with friends to save on time, money and energy!
  3. Loyalty Cards - Sign up for loyalty cards to access some significant deals and discounts.
  4. Student Discounts – don’t be afraid to ask!
  5. Compare prices – in store and across different brands to help you get the best price for your basket.


If you are struggling to afford your weekly shop, the University may be able to offer you financial support. Find out more about student funding, or emergency money on our Money Advice Webpages.


Student Advice 

029 2078 1410