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Written by Sherry Lui, MEng Engineering (Mechanical)

It can be difficult trying to save money in London, especially when it comes to food. Be sure to check out the below tips and ideas to help you achieve a more budget-friendly way of eating.

1. Cook at home

If you have the time it is always great to cook at home. Buying ingredients yourself helps save a lot of money! It’s always great to check out new recipes and cook with your friends. Splitting grocery bills with flatmates or friends save money, but it means less food is wasted.

2. Meal preps

If you bought too much groceries for one meal you can always plan ahead. Prepare your meal then simply place it in the fridge or freezer to eat later on. This saves time on busy or lazy days and ensures a nutritious meal every time. Check out cool and delicious meal prep ideas on websites such as tasty.co/topic/meal-prep

3. Pack a home lunch

If you don’t want to spend any money on lunch, you can always pack your own. There are many microwaves around campus so you can warm up your home cooking on campus. Microwaves can be found around campus at places such as the Student Centre cafeteria (3rd floor). Check out studentsunionucl.org/articles/where-to-find-microwaves for an extensive list and map to find your nearest microwave.

4. Shop meal deals and reduction sales at grocery stores

Be sure to check out your local grocery store for meal deals and daily reductions of food items. Some top contenders for best meal deals are Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Marks and Spencer’s. Meal deals save money, but also help you save time on a busy schedule. You can also check out online grocery stores such as Asda.com, for some saver deals daily.

5. Student cafés

One of the greatest things about being a university student is unlimited access to nearby student cafés. Check out ones on campus like the Print room or Gordon’s (personal favourite as they have pizza too). They all have amazing coffee and foods for budget-friendly prices. Remember to bring your own coffee cup, which helps the environment and also allows you to make some savings. studentsunionucl.org/places-for-you/cafes

6. Check Student deal websites and apps for discount codes and coupons

Be sure to register on websites such as Student Beans or UNiDAYS, they have exclusive deals for students only. They also have discounts for clothing, gyms and other useful daily needs.

7. Check stores for student discounts

A lot of stores offer student discounts when a student ID is shown in-store. There are many “secret” discount places such as Dominos, Planet Organic, Papa John, Tortilla and Itsu. Check out UCL’s own list of discounted eateries near campus. 

8. Restaurants right before closing

To avoid food wastage, many places choose to give massive discounts to food items 30 minutes or an hour before closing.

For example:

  • Itsu - 30 minutes before closing (50% off)
  • Wasabi - 30 minutes before closing(50% off)
  • Coco Di Mama- 1 hour before closing (50% off items with red stickers)
  • Tossed- 1 hour before closing (50% off salads and soups)
  • Crusshh – 1 hour before closing (50% off select items)

9.TooGoodToGo

TooGoodToGo is an amazing app that allows restaurants to sell unsold items at extremely discounted prices for you to pick up. This helps cut down your expenses but also the food waste created harming the environment. Simply order on the app, collect instore at a specified time. Budget and environmentally friendly!

10. Visit local farmer’s markets

Farmer’s markets are a great place to find amazing food at cheaper prices. Bloomsbury Farmer’s Market is open every Thursday on Torrington Square right by campus. The food market on Tottenham Court Road is open every weekday. If you’re up to some more adventure be sure to also check out Borough Market or Old Spitalfields Market. There are many markets around London. 

11. Hare Krishna @SOAS

It doesn’t get better than free! Free food is served by Hare Krishnas right outside the SOAS entrance near Waterstones. Food For All serves free food for people across London, you can also leave a donation on their website.

Finally…

No matter how much money you plan to save, always ensure you’re eating a well-balanced diet. Ensuring your body is healthy is crucial during university - don’t cheat yourself when it comes to eating. Food is the fuel you need!