Are you a wide eyed bushy­tailed fresher who’s just been let out into the big bad world of adulthood with little to no knowledge on how to scramble an egg? Or maybe a third year who still hasn’t quite mastered measuring out the correct amount of pasta for your dinner? Either way, these tips on how to grocery shop inexpensively will make your food (even your sliced pan) last the duration of the week.

Tip 1: Find Your Nearest Supermarket

For those of you lucky people who live on campus, there is a small convenience store named Centra, which you probably have already found if you follow the herds of hungry students rushing to get their chicken fillet roll at lunchtime, located near the entrance of the Merville Residences. Although it doesn’t have a huge selection of goods, it has the necessities at rather affordable prices, so what more could you want? The shop also has a deli counter if you are starved and need food fast, the staff are also super friendly.

If you are living in digs or a house nearby or simply looking for a better variety of food than Centra can offer, there are other supermarkets near UCD which are quite easily reached by bus, by walking or bike.

If you’re looking for a larger selection of low­-cost food then Lidl is your answer. There are two situated an accessible distance from the University; one is located on the 46A route to Dun Laoghaire just off the Stillorgan road in Stillorgan Plaza and the other can be found in Dundrum Village Centre. This particular shop is ideal for students as is extremely affordable especially with regards to the essentials such as bread, milk, butter and your midnight snacks of course.

Tesco is also another great spot for picking up your basics for the week as it more than often has great offers and deals most days so you will always find yourself picking up a bargain!

Tip 2: Write and Buy

Writing out a list of the groceries and other bits and bobs you require prior to your shopping trip helps prevent you from overspending and leaving you with no money for that party you’re invited to next Friday. Once you have a clear idea of what exactly you need, it makes the ordeal a whole lot easier and less stressful!

Tip 3: Shop Around

Finding the cheapest fusilli or nicest affordable toilet paper takes time. They also last ages and are available everywhere so make sure you shop around and see which supermarkets suit your budget the best. Take time out to try out new shops, you never know what discounts you might stumble upon.

Tip 4: Keeping It Fresh

It’s all well and good when you have acquired your weekly goods and have stumbled home with four bags in your hands sweating buckets, but it is now up to you to maintain your food in such a way that it stays fresh and lasts the week.

So here’s a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the last two years of being a student about preserving my meals

  • When buying large loafs of bread, separate the loaf into two halfs. Keep one half sealed tightly in its bag and stored in a cupboard or bread bin and place the other half in resealable bag in the freezer for later use so half your bread doesn’t go a scary green colour
  • If unsure as to whether your eggs have gone off, place them in a glass of cold water; if they rest at the bottom of the glass they are safe to consume, however if they float to the surface, bin them. TOP TIP: Eggs are supposed to be kept at room temperature.
  • Don’t be lazy! Keep produce that needs to be refrigerated in the fridge and goods needed to be stored in cool, dry places in your cupboards.
  • Cook your vegetables upon buying them; the longer they sit in the drawer of your fridge or in the pantry the more likely it is that they’re going to go to waste. You’re only cooking for one, so you don’t need ten bags of carrots!

Budgeting is not easy, believe me! But it is certainly doable, it just takes time and effort. Happy shopping!