Have you ever wondered, where do you even begin with food shopping? Well, hopefully this strategic advice will help keep your cupboards stocked with all the essentials at hand, to prepare a nutritious and delicious meal.

When I first came to QMU as a fresher, I was slightly worried about what to actually buy in a supermarket. I’d walk in and there’d be so much choice. Aisles upon aisles loaded with an array of different foods and attractive colourful packaging. I was a bit swamped on what to choose. Especially when I had a set budget each week to do my food shopping!

Initially I walked to Tesco’s in Musselburgh, without an idea of what I was going to cook that week. Picking up something, I’d think, “That’ll do.” However, I’d come home without an ingredient needed for the particular dish I wanted to prepare. Very silly! So I thought I’d start devising a brief “check list”, so I’d know roughly what I wanted to cook, and the ingredients I needed for the week ahead. That meant no extra runs to shops nearby, which tended to be a bit pricier. Additionally, no food was wasted helping me make the most out of my money. I also began learning how to actually cook! Although there were a few disasters, over time I started to get the hang of cooking, and enjoyed it so much. Cooking was a chill-out time after a busy day of class, and the thought that I’d be getting a nourishing, tasty meal, made my heart happy!

So I thought I’d also share with you an example of a shopping list I’d sometimes use. Hopefully it’ll be a handy resource that will help prevent any Fresher’s week flurries, when it comes to food shopping for the first time. I also hope this list can help inspire other students on what to buy when doing the weekly food stock-up. I wish for this to inspire / convince? you guys that it’s possible to create healthy and mouth-watering meals every night of the week, within a set budget.

A great site to determine where you’d like to shop for the cheapest produce is mySupermarket.com. I calculated the full price of this shop, and the average from all stores came to £40. However, note that the first shop is usually the most expensive, as essentials such as olive oil etc. are a little pricier. Remember, those pricier items are an investment for any kitchen, as they’ll save money in the long run! Using these ingredients you could make a load of different meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, as they’re so versatile.

Feel free to adjust the list to whatever your food preferences are. It’s just a template to help when food shopping, so hopefully you don’t freak out like I did at first! Offers are absolutely amazing, but don’t be tempted into buying random items, just because they’re reduced. Look for deals of the ingredients you actually want. Also remember that the shop’s own brand of something can sometimes taste the same, and often better than the leading, more expensive brands. Finally, don’t go shopping on an empty stomach! You’ll end up buying items you don’t particularly need, only because you’ve given in to the grumbles of your stomach. So definitely have a snack before you go to banish any cravings you may get when shopping. Do you really have to buy the entire shop’s supply of Kit-Kat’s, just because they’re on offer, and you’re hungry? Believe me, eat the snack and bring a list. Your body and bank balance will thank you for it.

Cupboard Essentials:

  • Seasonings; salt, pepper, garlic paste, chilli powder, ground cumin, paprika, soy sauce and stock cubes
  • Olive oil and White Wine Vinegar
  • Tinned Chopped Tomatoes, Kidney Beans, Sweet-Corn and Chickpeas
  • Eggs
  • Honey
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pesto
  • Tortilla wraps, Bread, Pasta and Rice*
  • Oat cakes
  • Porridge Oats
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Tea and Coffee

 Fridge Essentials:

  • Milk
  • Greek full-fat Yoghurt**
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Hummus
  • Butter
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Minced Beef
  • Spinach
  • Red/Yellow Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Avocados

* = Both white and wholegrain variations are an excellent source of energy as they’re great carbohydrates. However, for a nutritional boost, opt for the wholegrain option as it is packed with more fibre and minerals.

** = Full-fat yoghurt contains less sugar than the low-fat option, and will keep you fuller for longer.

Lucie Weir

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