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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

Forget dissertations, forget Bristol’s student housing crisis; one of the main woes of any student is filling the fridge shelf with wholesome, delicious meals that don’t depress their bank account. Cooking for one is challenging at any age, but a student-friendly budget with limited time and resources makes it all the harder. After being sheltered in catered halls of residence for first year, the move into a student house last year was a major shock, as I realised that without thinking about cooking, I would end up forking out on deliveroos or just living on scraps. Thankfully, this learning curve has equipped me for a lifetime of savvy food shops and creative meals, which allow me to spend more on the enjoyable aspects of student life in Bristol. This is my guide to maximising a small shopping budget whilst still keeping nutrition and deliciousness in mind:

Make a meal plan before your weekly shop.

Writing a quick meal plan is one of the easiest ways to avoid the merciless food delivery spiral that an empty fridge can send you into. I’m not sure about anyone else, but if I rock up to Sainsbury’s without a list of groceries I plan to use, I always spend double what I need to, only to get home and discover none of it can be used together for tasty meals. It might sound hyper-organised, but I promise that sitting and planning your meals for the next few days will save you time in the long run. Decide on one meal you want to make, whether this be a simple jacket potato with beans or a boujie mushroom risotto, and try to use the ingredients you’ll use for this for another recipe, resulting in minimal waste and spending. If you’re hankering for sausages one night, plan another couple of meals for the week that will use the pack’s leftovers. This is a pretty satisfying way to shop and eat, knowing you’re getting the absolute most out of what you fancy without breaking the bank.

Batch cooking those comfort dishes which fill your belly and your freezer.

    This is, by all accounts, the cardinal rule of student cooking. Despite the pitiful freezer space in most student houses, making four or five portions of your favourite curry or traybake will eliminate the typical issues that cooking for one leads to: expensive, fresh goods passing their prime. When you’re preparing multiple portions, you’ll find it far easier to use entire packs of meats or vegetables, as well as the added smugness of pulling a beautifully smelling pre-made meal out of the freezer late at night when you just can’t be bothered to stand in front of the hob for half an hour. The best bit? It doesn’t need to take longer than preparing your average un-imaginative one-portion plate, just a little foresight and a few old takeaway containers in the cupboards.

    Sometimes, keep things simple for yourself.

      Despite my earlier tips, which can inspire some real creativity in the kitchen, at times, it’s crucial to cut yourself some slack and keep it dead simple. The University of Bristol being how it is, the endless student Instagram foodie accounts presenting beautifully presented, elaborate meals of all varieties can make your jar-pesto pasta feel inadequate. As much as I enjoy experimenting with ingredients I can barely pronounce occasionally, I just want something that requires no thought or effort, regardless of what I have in the fridge. Here, a cheese toastie and hastily microwaved soup never fail to disappoint and cost very little indeed. As a rule, if you’ve got a little veg and protein thrown in there somewhere, you can’t be doing that badly.

      These three tips form a fairly fool-proof blueprint to cutting down food-shop costs weekly by putting a little extra thought into how you buy and prepare your food to minimise food waste, which hurts the planet and the purse. Remember, though, sometimes nothing you can make at home will substitute that craving for Dominoes or another takeaway, and it is never a bad thing to have the odd indulgence – after all the money you’ve saved following this guide, you’ll be able to afford it!

      I am a third year History student here at the University of Bristol, with particular interest in colonial history/histories of enslavement as well as sexual history. I've taken a keen interest in getting involved with student papers this year with the aspiration to become a journalist after getting my degree. I particularly enjoy writing about issues and obstacles that young women in particular face and how these can be combatted. I grew up in Oxford and have always had close ties to Bristol, with my mother and sister also going to the University of Bristol and living here for several years. I love the food and drink scene here, which keeps me very busy. I also love travelling and am constantly saving for the next big backpacking trip.