Explore grocery shopping in London with Spring 2022 participant Talaith Campbell!
***This is an example of a student’s experience from Spring 2022. Specific programming and activities are subject to change semester by semester.
One thing that might seem really simple but can turn into a bit of a disaster is, drumroll……Grocery Shopping! One new reality about living independently is the need to shop and cook for yourself. While grocery shopping with your parents as a kid was probably pretty routine, it can look a bit different as an adult when you’re the one meal planning. Luckily, I have some suggestions for you! Before I begin, I must admit, I’m a beginner too. But, before you start on a Verto semester in say Florence or London, I do have some ideas about what you should consider.
Knowing what to buy:
Before you leave for your semester, take a look at what groceries your parents are buying at home. Now, really consider what you as an individual are eating consistently. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we’re not all ready to be buying and using an array of individual ingredients and spices etc. Frozen meals are a really good way to save money.. Especially running between classes, it’s easy to have a full meal prepared that can be ready in 5 minutes. There’s no shame in pre-made food!
Heat up that frying pan!
While frozen meals are great for time, do try cooking- it’s really fun! Even simple recipes can save you a lot of money in the long run. Try getting into a routine with it. For me, I’m trying to cook from scratch even just once a week. Small habits like this can have a lot of benefits long term. Make a roommate cooking night or host a dinner party! Do whatever it takes to get yourself in the kitchen, at least sometimes. Cooking for one? No problem! Buy some tupperware at the store and freeze some leftovers. You can warm them up for a quick meal in the future!
Knowing where to shop:
Another important thing is where you do your grocery shopping. Abroad, there’s a lot more options than just Safeway or Kroger etc. Where you shop can have a HUGE impact on how much money you spend. For example, in London, somewhere like Wetherspoons might not fit into your student budget while Sainsburrys is cheap and right next door to the dorms. Pay attention to where you’re walking into. Not sure where to shop? Your Student Life Coordinator is there to help! They can give you tips too on where to best buy your groceries.Once you’re in an affordable grocery store, try checking out the clearance section. Yup, that’s right, grocery stores have clearance too. A lot of times, if stores overstock or if things are about to go bad they’ll be marked down well over 50%.
Save eating out for special occasions:
Mainly, and this is a big one, try to eat out as little as possible. Especially in Florence and London, things can be more expensive than you’re used to at home. The bill for a night out can grow exponentially without you realizing. Going to a restaurant with friends is a great way to decompress and socialize, however, maybe try eating something beforehand and just getting a snack while out. This is something that I do and is a really effective way to save money. It’s still great to try the local cuisine every once and a while, but save it for a special occasion like after midterms or after a busy week!
Taking small steps each day can make a big difference when looking at your overall budget. Grocery shopping can quickly turn into the main place your money goes. But, if you’re careful, that money can be put towards other things like traveling and exploring your new home!