A Guide to a Successful First University shop

The big day has arrived and you are finally at university. You have moved into your new room and unpacked your bags. The next exciting and daunting thought is the trip to the supermarket. Where should you start?

supermarket, shelves, shopping

Before you go to the supermarket check how much storage space is available. In the kitchen is there a cupboard per person? How big is your fridge? Are there freezers? Is there room under your bed? This will give you a good idea of how much fresh and frozen food to buy, and where you can store all of your staple cupboard items.
If you have access to a freezer then it’s worthwhile buying some plastic containers so that you can cook meals in bulk and freeze them. It might seem like an effort at the time, but it will save you time and money in the long run.

You also need to give your food shop some thought. This might be the only time you have your parents to help you; paying for and ferrying the shop for you. Think seriously of a few easy meals which will keep you going for a few days in the whirlwind of freshers week, but also plan to buy enough freezer food and tinned items to last you for weeks to come. There will be plenty of times at the beginning of the year you won’t feel like cooking, and those freezer meals will be a saviour.

Plan your meals for the first week. It will be a big first shop and getting the essentials will stand you in good stead. Firstly make a shopping list. Think about what you eat for breakfast, whether you need sandwiches for lunch if your uni is far away and you want to save money between lectures, what you will want to snack on during the day. Do you drink tea or coffee?

Buy staples to have in the cupboard. Even if you are not a confident cook you can throw a meal together easily with basic items. For example pasta, rice, bread, eggs. Buying bulk packets of rice and pasta will last you for ages. Tins are also great to stock up on, such as tinned tomatoes, baked beans, tuna, sweetcorn.

macaroni, bolognese, pasta

Decide what you will want for dinners. Are you confident enough to cook meals or do you need to buy some frozen dinners or jars of sauce? You will need to cook easy meals at the start of year, as freshers will be very busy and you won’t want to spend loads of time cooking.

For some quick ideas:

  • Mince is an easy option. You can make spag bog by adding some frozen veg and a tin of tomatoes; or chilli-con-carne, by adding a tin of tomatoes and chilli powder
  • Pasta, a tin of tuna and a carton of passata makes a great easy meal
  • Stir fry, you can buy these all ready and just need to fry quickly.

Have a basic tick list. You need to stock up on items such as loo roll, kitchen paper, foil, sandwich bags, cling film, soap, washing up liquid, cleaning sprays, j-cloths, scourers, bin bags – all the things that you take for granted at home and are easy to forget.

It is all too easy to get carried away, but remember it is just YOU that you are buying for! When you get to know your flatmates, it might be much cheaper and more efficient to buy in bulk if you agree on sharing meals. Often the local supermarket will deliver, which makes things even easier if your local supermarket is a trek away from your flat. However for your first shop try to be realistic and select things you know you can make and will depend on in the upcoming weeks.

Sarah has produced this special booklet, available from the Online Shop designed to help students who are away from home for the first time to live a healthy lifestyle.

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