Support & Advice
Eating on a budget as an International Student!
By: Pavlina Kratochvilova
Everyone knows this feeling, your money comes to your bank account, you are super excited about things you can buy and then you pay back all your loans, equipment you need for your education and your accommodation for next months and you are poor again. And where is food, where is clothes or nights out? Well I have decided put together few tips that will help you to get through the school year with some money left and even enjoy it.
I am big fan of food. Like if you ask me if I want a new top or a pizza, I would always go for pizza. I like to try new things, celebrate birthdays or special occasions and like to feel, that I can afford to actually eat three course meal in a restaurant and my bank account won’t cry (even though my body will).
I am a waitress over the weekends, so one of the things I just enjoy when I eat out, is treating the staff just as the customers treats me in my working place. I don’t mean to be mean, but it is sometimes nice to just go out and instead of running around someone, let people to run around me.
I have tried most of the restaurants over my first year with the NUS card. That is really good thing to have. In some places you get discount for the whole meal, with some you got just certain things for free, but it is always worth to discover, which place has the best offer. Most of them are offering discounts only from Monday-Thursday, as these are not the busy nights, but some of them offer also lower discounts on weekends. It really depends on what you want to do. If you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, sadly you probably won’t get anything for free, but if you just go one random Monday evening, you can have up to 50% off.
The best so far for me was ASK Italian as they offer 40% off the whole meal, which is almost half! Frank Bennie’s has 40% off the main meal, but they have lovely pancakes in the morning which even without discount costs around £5, and they taste like heaven! (They also have cute sharing plates of meatballs or carbonara pasta, if you are on a cute date and freak-shakes, worth to try!) Zizzi has about 25% off all the food and Prezzo around 30%, but with Prezzo is also worth to go over weekend as they have really good set menu from 12-7pm, so you pay £13 for three course meal! With set menus you sadly don’t get any discount but it helps you discover other places that don’t offer any NUS discounts., like Carluccio’s or Cote Brasserie, but again, check the time when are the set menus served, because it’s usually part of the pre-theatre menu, so just until 7pm.
Another NUS discounts goes to Pizza Express, where you again get 40% discount of food and talking about pizza, every student in Chichester can not miss the famous Domino’s offer Two for Tuesday, when you get two pizza’s for the price of only one!
But let’s talk about something more affordable, because not everyone can spend every night in a restaurant. Probably everyone heard about Meal deals, which are great ways for everyone who is lazy to cook or just really busy. You can get some in the student shop, walk from the Uni down to CO-OP (another 10% off with NUS) or go further down and try Tesco in town or my favourite Boots(they also have cakes as a snack!). It usually cost about £3 and you get snack, sandwich/salad/wrap and drink.
Next affordable tip would be well known McDonald’s! You can get lovely meal deal just for few pounds including side dish and drink, perfect after night out as the one by the Sainsbury stays open 24hours! There is also KFC by Stockbridge, for anyone fancy just chicken. And for more fancy people there is also Nando’s where is just worth to have the loyalty card, as you get some points for every meal and then spend them it on even more food! Good place where to eat is also Weatherspoon’s, they have good deals of food even for vegetarians all day long with special occasions like Fish and Chips day, Chicken day etc., and 2 desserts for £5!! + you can also just go out for a drink there, because it’s probably the cheapest place where to get drunk J
So probably the easiest and cheapest and healthiest option is to cook. That is what university is good for, it teaches you hot to be responsible for yourself. I have started with weekly shopping and because I am super lazy to kick my ass and go to Sainsbury, I use delivery. If you check what places have the best sales or the cheapest things you want to buy, it saves you a lot of money.
Marks & Spencer has always sales before they close, so all the food that is about to expire that day costs around few pounds. I love to go to Iceland, because you can get good deals of fishes or other meats and also food that is already prepared and you just cook it. Having it frozen is also good for future, because you can fill up your freezer with things and anytime you are hungry, just take it out. Cooking is also good way of relaxing and at least you see, what is in every dish that you make. I personally hate mushrooms and every tomato dish in the canteen somehow always contained mushrooms, like, who puts mushroom in Bolognese sauce or lasagne? Therefore I have learnt to cook my own tomato dishes and I always have mince beef in my freezer if I am in a mood for some more. After a year of eating sandwiches I bought cute pink lunchbox and I am ready to be healthier and more organized and then every month I will go to one of the discounted places and enjoy people running around me, because we can’t just be sitting and trying to save money. We deserve to enjoy little things too.
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