Say no to supermarkets and save £££s
There's more to life than doing all your shopping in the local supermarket, and looking further afield could save you some serious cash over the year.
Ah, the student supermarket hang-up. Convenience redefined, its aisles are full of bargain goodness and endless treats to tempt even the staunchest abstainers from frittering away their hard-earned (or not so, if the SLC has anything to do with it) pennies.
Yes it’s convenient. Yes, sometimes there are deals (mostly alcohol or Ben and Jerrys-related, admittedly) which you just can’t pass up. Yes, there may even be some free samples of delicious nibbles to go back seven times to try because you’re ‘making sure they’re consistent in flavour’. But your local Tesco may not necessarily be cheaper in the long-run.
So here at studentbeans.com we’ve gone on an intrepid search to find you the cheapest alternatives to the supermarket. They may be slightly more cumbersome, but once you realise that the money you’ve saved may get you two Jagerbombs on a night out, we’re sure you won’t complain too much.
Supermarket alternative #1: The Discount Shop
Best for: cheap cleaning products and toiletries
Now you may associate the likes of Wilkinson and Pound Stretcher with being slightly more expensive counterparts to the Pound Shop. Definitely not so. As well as a myriad of options for house décor, the discount shop will also offer you great deals on some food and drink purchases (we saw a 2-litre bottle of Coke for £1).
However, where they truly excel is in the cleaning products and cosmetics department. With own-brand bleach coming in at 75p and Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Shampoo 400ml coming in at a mere £2 (in Tesco, it’s £3.79 at the time of writing), it’s not one to dismiss.
Supermarket alternative #2: The Market
Best for: meat and fish
Maybe it’s because you’re scared of the locals. Maybe it’s because you’re not up in time. All we know is that there has to be a very good reason you’ve not ventured into the local market for your food. Not only will it be better quality stuff, the likelihood is that it’ll be cheaper too.
Fresh stuff is the order of the day – if you’re catering for a group (or flat) of people, finding an entire salmon for £7 isn’t too bad going for a large meal, as well as 12 top-quality sausages for £3.20.
What’s even better is if you go towards the end of the day, you’re in more of a position to haggle a better price too. We managed to get 4 chicken fillets for £4, and some wings thrown in as a sweetener. Can’t say fairer (or yummier) than that.
Supermarket alternative #3: The Greengrocer
Best for: fruit and veg (obviously)
We understand that fruit and veg may not be too high up on your culinary priorities, but believe us, at some point you’ll probably need an orange or two (even if it’s only to fight off freshers’ flu). Here is where your friendly, neighbourhood greengrocer steps in.
Whether it’s a sack of spuds that will last you a fortnight for £1.50, or a punnet of (suspicious-looking, granted, but still very tasty) strawberries for a quid, you may have found a new best friend. We found ten oranges for a quid, too (Asda’s offering is 25p each).
What makes it even more attractive though is that many greengrocers, to try to tap into a student market, offer discounts and incentives to students for their custom. Ask nicely at the till, and you never know what you might get; maybe even a smack around the face. We’re joking. Sort of.
Supermarket alternative #4: The Pound Shop
Best for: treats and tins
Ah, the humble Pound Shop. In amongst some brilliant fancy dress ideas and questionable-looking foreign condoms, there is a wealth of bargains to be found in their multipack offers.
This should be a stock cupboard for your sweet (or treat) tooth – 12 packs of branded crisps for £1 and massive biscuit selections for £1 should get you going for starters. They also sell milk and offer tins in multipack deals – we got semi-skimmed and 3 tins of Weightwatchers soup (watching the waistline and all) for a quid apiece.
Supermarket alternative #5: Freeganism
Best for: anything a little bit stale
On Wikipedia, freeganism is defined as ‘the practice of reclaiming and eating food that has been discarded’ and is seen as part of a ‘wider "anti-consumerist" ideology’. You don’t really need to worry about the political implications though – you’re only in it for the free food.
Whether it’s foraging, or salvaging retailers’ out-of-date food from their bins, this obviously has severe financial benefits – i.e. you spend nothing.
However, the health implications are potentially risky, and we’re pretty sure your social status may deteriorate when you adopt your Batman-esque nocturnal existence. Skip-dwelling generally isn’t perceived as particularly ‘cool’ by most factions of society. But maybe you're the one to change all that?
Also, some authorities, as with Robin Hood’s philanthropic tendencies, may perceive this as stealing. And a fine sure makes a mockery of your attempts to save a quick buck.
Supermarket alternative #6: The supermarket
Best for: anything you want to eat that night
Hear us out – we don’t mean ‘supermarket’ in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, we want you to discover the wonder of the discount shelf. Arrive at around 8pm and to avoid wastage, the stores will be trying to rid themselves of the produce which goes past its sell-by-date.
Here’s where you come in. ‘Pork joint? £2.55? Don’t mind if I do. Pre-made cheesy mash? 89p? Bargain! Fresh soup? 54p? I think I’ve died and gone to heaven’… and so on.
Just make sure you do check the sell-by-dates though – generally they won’t last longer than 24 hours, and you want to make sure you won’t be seeing those chicken goujons again in a couple of hours’ time.