So you’ve made it, you’re in Glasgow! Whether you are a fresher or a returning student, you are probably settling back into the student life after a hectic Freshers’ Week. And your eating patterns are coming back to normal. But then, what if too many nights out left your wallet empty, and you are unsure where to shop for cheap staple foods?
Some of us are quite familiar with the area and the different supermarket chains around the West End like Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, Lidl, and Sainsbury’s. It’s a blessing but also a curse — which one holds the cheapest food and most valuable bargains? To answer the question, I made a list of a few simple items: carrots, broccoli, potatoes, bananas, eggs, fish, sausages, bread, pasta, rice and oats. I mainly chose those items because they are basic and lightly or not processed, and mainly always the generic basic brand like Waitrose or Tesco Essential. Some products you might buy often, other you don’t but I figured this would be useful to get a general idea of cheap food staples in Glasgow.
First, looking at pantry staples, Tesco beats all the odds if you are a pasta foodie (no offense for our Italian readers), the Hearty Food Company brand will allow you to spend between 20p to 30p for 500 grams of pasta. It’s also a good value for basmati rice and oats, and you could spend less than £1.10 for 1 kg of oats and £1.60 for 1kilogram of Basmati rice. Lidl comes close when it comes to bread, where you will find a white medium loaf for 79p.
When it comes to vegetables, Lidl, Tesco and the other supermarkets are even, you will find a kilo of carrots between 60p to 90p. Moreover, Waitrose isn’t as pricey as we could imagine (73p per kilo). Potatoes are cheaper at Tesco, same as bananas, at 76p to £1 per kg. Often supermarkets will have a valuable brand at the cheapest price, but the good thing is that not only supermarkets chains offer good deals. Local business are flourishing in Glasgow, making it easier for students to indulge in some good quality produce, without having to flog a kidney in exchange of a bunch of locally produced kale. Comparing supermarkets with local shops like Roots & Fruits, a fruit and veg merchant on Great Western Road, the difference isn’t extreme. They have a selection of staple produce at a fairly reasonable price, and often interesting deals like two brocolis for £1, as well as £1 for 2 oranges, bananas around £1 per kilo. Fancy some scrambled eggs for breakfast? You’re in luck, a 6 medium free range egg pack is £1.45 – and cherry on the cake, they’ve also got a 10% discount for students!
Also, I included fish in this panel, because I myself find it difficult to buy products both cheap and responsibly sourced. Lidl offers 250g cod fillets for £2.99, which is pretty reasonable. Just know that at Fish Plaice, a fishmonger located in Byres Road, sells a 250g cod fillet for £2.80 (and you can also feel good about helping a local business).
Lastly, if like me, you are a postgraduate student and committed to settle in the library until next May, you can stay where you are. Indeed, Glasgow Uni Food co-op has been partnering for a few years now with Locavore, a cooperative situated in the southside. They also deliver £5 vegetables bags to campus and have organised free donations of bread and baked goods – and who doesn’t want beans on toast?
To conclude, it is often complicated for students to find the balance between valuable and cheap, especially without having to go from places to places to spare a few pennies. It seems that supermarket chains like Tesco are a must for dried goods, but local shops are also worth having a look for fruits and vegetables. Glasgow has a fair share of local and chain places that hopefully will allow you to enjoy comforting meals and give a rest to your wallet.