A fresher’s guide to the first food shop.
So, you’ve survived Freshers’ Week. What’s next, I hear you ask. Well, I can safely assume that by now you have either run out of the supplies your parents left you, or have decided that the diet of toast, Pot Noodle, and cereal may not be sustainable for the rest of the year. It’s now time for the part of the university experience that most freshers dread – the first food shop. Here are some top tips for making this an experience that, with a bit of practice and preparation, can be tolerable.
First, and most importantly, you need to make sure you have a meal plan. This might sound like a laborious task, but I promise you it will save you time and money in the long run. It means you know what you are buying each week, and ensures all of your food shop is used.. My shopping list consists of the ingredients I need to satisfy my meal plan, making sure to check my cupboards and freezer to ensure I don’t buy double. I also like to think about what I can use twice – for example I like to make stir fry, and then I use my leftover chicken with pasta later in the week.
Now you have your meal plan, it’s time to head to the shop. Glasgow has many supermarket options ranging from the high-end to the student friendly. When shopping, there are a few things to bear in mind. First, remember you are shopping for only one person. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t buy a whole loaf of bread, but consider freezing half of it so that it will last longer. Second, food waste. Budget supermarkets like Lidl often don’t sell loose produce, meaning that even though you only need one onion you are often forced to buy a pack of three. I would advise either buying frozen vegetables where you can or spending the time to chop veg up and freeze it yourself, saving yourself time, money, and minimising waste.
Finally, and probably the biggest concern for new university students, is sticking to your budget – it may take you a few weeks to work out what you are able to spend. Avoiding temptation where you can in the bakery and confectionary aisles also helps (if you absolutely can’t do this, Lidl has an hour at the end of the day where they reduce all their baked goods). Furthermore, batch cooking ensures that there will always be a meal in your freezer when cooking sounds like the last thing you want to do (spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne and lasagne are good for this).
Ultimately, you will eat far more pesto pasta than you thought it was possible for a human to consume, and you might not get your five a day (I was lucky if I got my five a week), but I hope that some of this advice will stick with you, and you can go into your first few food shops feeling like you have a vague idea of what is going on.