Category: Money Matters
Chapter Select
Sub category: Spending

6 tricks to eating on a student budget

Anyone who’s had to pay for study (their own or someone else’s) will be well aware of the cost implications – and those clichés about living on baked beans may ring scarily true. But while eating on a student’s budget may have its limitations, you don’t have to sacrifice decent food completely. Here are some ways to get more fuel (and flavour) out of your budget.

1. Put your planning hat on

Spontaneous meals may keep life interesting, but they can also seriously dent your bank account. It may sound boring, but you can get a whole lot more value out of your weekly shop if you do a bit of planning before hitting the supermarket. Work out what meals you’ll be home for, and aim to buy ingredients you can use across at least a couple of meals – that way you get minimal wastage. You’d be amazed at how far a whole chicken can go, for example – you could use it for chicken pie, stir-fry, lunch fillings, and even use the carcass to make broth.

2. Whip your pantry into shape

If your cupboards are packed with junk, it’s hard to see what you do and don’t have already – and you’re more likely to double up on purchases, or forget about stuff and have it go out of date. By keeping it organised (and doing a quick check before you go to the supermarket) you can make your pantry a waste-free zone. It can also be worth investing in some decent storage containers, so food doesn’t go off or stale.

3. Learn to love leftovers

Last night’s stew may not look too appetising but check yourself before throwing it away. A lot of meals can actually be re-purposed as something else – pie filling, sandwich filling and salad ingredients to name just a few. The same goes for stray veggies and other ingredients that you may find lying around. Mushy bananas make a mean banana bread, limp veggies are still great roasted – for more creative ideas, do a little googling or download an app like Epicurious.

4. Embrace the imperfect

These days, shops are increasingly offering ‘imperfect’ fruit and vegetables at discounted prices. If you’re in NSW, check out Harris Farm’s ‘imperfect picks’ – it’s a great way to save on your shop and minimise waste. In lots of cases, the flaws are only very minor or cosmetic, and it won’t make a difference to how things taste! Some other shops also offer food at a discount when it comes to the end of the day, so keep an eye out.

5. Shop in season

Fresh fruit and vegetables can vary hugely in price depending on the season. Those grapes might be a bargain now, but fast forward a few months when they’re not so readily available and the price could rocket. If you’re not sure what’s in season check out Australian Seasonal Food Guide – then you can plan your menu with this in mind.

6. Get together as a group

We all know that buying – and cooking – in bulk is more cost effective. If you’d rather not have spag bol’ for an entire week, why not invite a bunch of friends over and eat as a group? You can take turns and make a weekly event of it (maybe it’s a ‘curry club’, or maybe everyone whips up their own specialty). As well as being a cheap way to eat, it’s a lot more fun that tuna and rice on your lonesome!

The information is current as at publication. Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Deposit products, savings products, credit card and home loan products are issued by ING, a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823. ING Living Super (which is part of the ING Superannuation Fund ABN 13 355 603 448) is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited ABN 49 006 421 638, AFSL 235153 RSE L0000635. The insurance cover offered by ING Living Super is provided by Metlife Insurance Limited ABN 75 004 274 882, AFSL 238096. ING Insurance is issued by Auto & General Insurance Company Limited (AGIC) ABN 42 111 586 353 AFSL Licence No 285571 as insurer. It is distributed by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd (AGS) ABN 61 003 617 909 AFSL 241411 and by ING as an Authorised Representative AR 1247634 of AGS. All applications for credit are subject to ING's credit approval criteria, and fees and charges apply. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Terms and Conditions, Fees and Limits Schedule, Financial Services Guide, Key Facts Sheet and Credit Guide available at when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a product. Before interacting with us via our social media platforms, please take a minute to familiarise yourself with our Social Media User Terms

Related articles

Money Matters