We’re really excited to introduce you to another student voice on Hull Campus Life – Sophie Clarkson will be talking about how to budget as a student (and how not to budget!) and how to eat well for less…

Hi! So, my name is Sophie and I’m a first year Drama Student who has exactly zero experience in blogging but a lot of experience in Facebooking all my important experiences. Yes, I am that girl who posts pictures of her food on Instagram and floods her Snapchat feed with weird selfies and yes, you guessed it, more pictures of food, and here’s a cheeky twist… VIDEOS of her food AS WELL! #sobasic

So I thought why not give it a go?! I’m rubbish at keeping a diary, so I thought instead of a lifestyle blog (basically a diary) I would try and write a blog about surviving life as a student, budgeting and cooking for yourself for the first time. That means lots of food porn and lots of little recipes, from my own head (AKA I improvised and it sort of worked!) It also means I’ll do my best to show you how I am budgeting, what changes across the year as I budget and also confessions from when I inevitably slip up and buy something I really didn’t need but couldn’t resist from somewhere like Primark, or most likely, from spending too long online!

To start, I’ll give you a little summary of my experience budgeting and cooking for myself so far.

Let’s begin with a little improvised recipe from the end of freshers week when I’d just about lost the will to live and was very hungry with no meals planned!

Easy Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta

You will need:

A few handfuls of Pasta (the type of pasta is up to you!)
A tin of Tuna, drained
Half a tin of sweetcorn (Left over from an omelette I made previously!)
A few squirts of tomato puree
A drizzle of hot water (to your preference)
Salt and Pepper (optional)
Grated cheese (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Drain the water from the pasta, put the pasta back into the saucepan, and add the tuna and sweetcorn, mixing until fully dispersed.
  3. Add the tomato puree to taste (I had to add quite a bit) and dilute with a drizzle of hot water (if you prefer it runnier, add more, and vice versa) and mix until the pasta is covered.
  4. (optional) Add salt and pepper and sprinkle with grated cheese. 
  5. Dig in!

I made enough to store two helpings in Tupperware in the fridge for two days, which I paired with a packet of crisps and took for packed lunches in the days afterwards! (Remember to pack a fork!)

Now, for the nitty gritty stuff – Budgeting for freshers’ week and the week following.

So, on move in day, I went shopping with my parents and they bought me lots of cupboard stuff (e.g. tins of beans, chopped tomatoes, soup, etc.) to keep me going. I knew I wouldn’t have the time to cook much that week, so we didn’t buy many fresh ingredients. They bought me a couple of alcoholic beverages as well to keep me going for at least freshers’ week… It’s 2 weeks since freshers and I’ve still got half of it – but I don’t really pre-drink WHICH IS NOT SO GOOD WHEN YOU’RE BUDGETING!!!

During freshers’ week, after I got my loan, I set aside a bit of time to plan my money. I deducted my accommodation rent for this semester and then divided what was left by 12 weeks (the length of this semester). It gave me roughly £54 per week – not too shabby! I decided, thanks to a tip from my mother, to tell myself I had about £45 per week, so that if I ‘over-spent’ I wouldn’t actually go over my weekly allowance – smart, my mother is!

The week after freshers is when I decided to cook properly for the first time. I decided to make 3 dishes and a batch of muffins (as I had some fruit I had neglected in the fridge!) and decided to make enough of each dish so I could freeze some for later – economic cooking! I planned my shopping list accordingly and stuck to it determinedly! The shop came to about £15 from Lidl. Not too bad! (I was quite proud of myself! #thesadlife)

The next week wasn’t so lucky – this week. This Saturday I went to Lidl with my 3 meal plans on my list and came out with much less food but for a grand total of £29! Ridiculous, I thought to myself! But that’s just life! It came down to the fact that I may have bought a £3.99 doormat I didn’t actually need (oops!) but also the fact that beef mince is really expensive! In future I will be making veggie versions of these recipes. I also concluded that Lidl, as cheap as it is, is not the place to try and find singular vegetables – I needed 1 lemon but could only find a pack of 6 – I am currently searching for recipes for Lemon Drizzle cake as a result! A word of advice – when looking for single fruit and veg, definitely opt for your local market or green grocers as it is likely to be cheaper and less wasteful!

Another issue I encountered this week was that I had to move flats as my now ex-flatmates were a little bit crazy! Therefore, my original contract length of 38 weeks was extended to 42 weeks in my new flat, so I had to sit down AGAIN and re-budget. With the extra £500 for the year for the new room deducted from my finances, it appeared I now had around £35 per week instead of £54. This meant I had drastically over-spent at Lidl. So, next week, I will be getting less things to cook from scratch and settling for eggs and baked beans to fill me up on an evening (not the worst thing in the world!)

I think, from my experience so far, I have learnt that budgeting is hard at first. But… I am determined to succeed. I shall endeavour to cook 1-2 large meals from scratch a week and save some in the freezer for other days, and then stick to boring but cheap meals the rest of the time, e.g. soup with bread and butter, baked beans, eggs on toast, etc.

I hope you enjoyed my first blog – sorry it was a bit long!! I hope it made you feel better about budgeting for yourself for the first time and gave you some food for thought (Yes, pun intended #ihatemyself!


Until next time, thanks for reading!