21 ways students can save money on food

Food glorious food! Indeed. But food prices seem to rise about as fast as your budget appears to dwindle.


So how do you spend less money on food without resorting to dry toast? Here are 21 easy ways to make sure you don’t starve as a student.

  • Create weekly or monthly meal plans. Knowing what and when you’re going to eat will limit the uhms and aahs that drive you to the (more expensive) takeaway counter.
  • Make a grocery list for the meal plans and stick to it. Ambling down the aisle in a supermarket with no fixed plan in place will make you more likely to reach for things you don’t need.
  • Buying groceries in bulk will help you save time. Not driving to and from the store every time you need a loaf of bread or a box of crackers will help you save petrol and time. Make sure to take that grocery list with when you do your weekly so you don’t forget anything.
  • If you live on your own, or don’t share the same taste as your roomie, find someone else with whom you can split your groceries. Your best friend may have the same weakness for cheese…
  • Never go shopping on an empty stomach. You’ll be less susceptible to impulse choices, like the packet of chips you end up scoffing in the queue.
  • Compare the cost of “private label” brands. They usually have the same ingredients and are just as good as branded products, the only difference is you’re not footing the bill for the name and packaging.
  • Always be on the lookout for daily price promotions and compare prices at different supermarkets.
  • Stock up on canned food like beans, peas and pilchards. They’re pretty cheap and last for ages.
  • Sign up for supermarket loyalty programmes.
  • Always carry your student card to make the most out of student discounts.
  • Rather than drawing cash to pay for food, use your Capitec card. It’s safer and cheaper since there’s no fee to pay with your card.
  • Delete your food delivery apps. Of course it’s tempting to get takeaways, if only from a convenience point of view, but remember you’re paying for food, delivery and the cute marketing campaign too.
  • That said, food delivery apps always have discounts when you use them for the first time. If you do cave, hit up a different service provider and save.
  • Packing your own lunch is a really simple way to save money on food. A store-bought, ready-made salad can set you back up to R70. One you prep at home? Closer to R25.
  • Become a noodle brain. Whether they are of the 2-minute variety or in a portable pot, noodles are cheap, filling and they taste oh-so-good at any time of day.
  • Check the quality of fruit and veggies at roadside stalls instead of always buying at supermarkets, they’re way cheaper. Also, make sure you shop for fruit and veg in season. Avos, for example, are super expensive in January.
  • Substitute juice and fizzy drinks for water. Sounds obvious, sure. But do you actually do it? Exactly. Start now. Not only will you save money, you may shave off a little weight too.
  • Forget portion control. Well, when it comes to food prep that is. Double or even triple your recipe and freeze portions in batches.
  • Bulk up on Biryani. This wholesome Indian dish is filling and consists mostly of affordable ingredients such as rice and lentils. Meat is optional.
  • On that note, cut down on meat and save megabucks. Red meat and even chicken can make a serious dent in your funds.
  • Visit your folks more often! If they live close by, pop in for a free meal every now and then. And if you happen to raid the pantry while you’re there? Well, they’ll probably forgive you.


More ways to save money

Move to Capitec and use the Global One solution where you’ll get access to 4 savings plans and earn interest on your transactional account. You can name your savings plan, such as “food”, which will help you budget better.

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