Blog post

Home cooking and eating out on a budget

By Greta Vaičytė - 7 April 2022

Cooking as a student might be considered difficult, but it is one of the daily routines of independent living. Grocery shopping, budgeting, and time management can be challenging, especially for people who are not used to it. I understand some students prefer take-out or home delivery because they dislike cooking due to being busy.

Being a third-year Professional Culinary Management student, cooking is more than a career  for me. First, it is my hobby. Not only do I enjoy surprising my friends and family with my cooking, but I also relax being in the kitchen. It allows me to express my creativity and boost my happiness when I'm feeling restless.

Tips and tricks

Here are some of my honest ideas and important facts that I gained while studying and living in Derby. Keep in mind that you don't need to be a good cook; all you need is an open mind and a desire to try new things.

Plan Your Meals and Weekly Shopping Trips

You may save time, money, and food waste by planning your meals and cooking routine ahead of time. At the same time, you don't have to know precisely what you're going to eat every day or follow a strict meal plan. Spend some time arranging what you're going to make after you've established your weekly pattern and how many meals you'll be preparing. Also, arrange your weekly shopping visits and always have a well-thought-out plan in place. This is so you know precisely what you need from the store before you go. It may sound tedious, but it will ensure that you don't buy things you don't need and that you don't waste food.

Don’t Waste Your Food

The home kitchen is one of the areas where food is wasted the most. If you create many meals or buy a lot of food, to waste what you don't consume, you'll probably end up spending more on your weekly grocery shopping. Try to eat it for lunch the next day or freshen up a meal. Add more ingredients, toss in some herbs and spices, or transform the leftovers into something different altogether.

Be Careful of Tricks

The most crucial tip is to avoid shopping while you're starving as you'll be tempted to buy things you don't need. Similarly, grocery stores do all they can to get more money out of you, even though it involves adopting some tricky psychological trade secrets. For example:

99p Pricing - Most buyers are psychologically drawn to things costing £0.99. The one-penny discount makes us think we've found a steal. Be wary of such deceptive pricing tactics, and always double-check what you're getting for your money.

Large Shopping carts = Large Expenses - You should have a budget-friendly shopping list with you, so you know what to buy and aren't misled by the large space in your cart.

Remember to be aware of them.

Keep an eye out for discounts and loyalty cards

As a student in the UK, it is preferable to shop for groceries on a budget at cheap supermarkets Aldi and Lidl. Keep an eye out for student discount deals and vouchers on websites such as If you go to the supermarket in person, it's also worth scheduling your visit for an hour or two before the store shuts (or about 7 pm at a 24-hour store). This is when items nearing their sell-by date will be discounted. Also, supermarket loyalty cards may provide significant savings so get one for each store in your neighbourhood. Simple.

You don't have to follow the recipe

Whether you're missing an item, you can leave it out if it's not essential to the recipe. Don't allow a single missing item to keep you from attempting a wonderful meal.

Expect that things don't always turn out

Despite what the beauty of social media may show us, your meals do not have to be 'Insta-perfect.' Sometimes the simplest meals may provide us with the most joy. Don't be disheartened if a recipe doesn't work out or isn't as good as you hoped. It's all part of the process. Learning something new takes time - and a few failures.

Eating out on a discount

Being a student will put your money management skills to the test. You will have the opportunity to party with your pals several times during your academic experience. While it may appear thrilling, bear in mind that a night out with friends can have a huge impact on your bank account. But we all want to have fun times too. So, let's look at a few Derby establishments that are great for students and offer a student discount. I'm sure you've already guessed who they are…

Domino's Pizza - The good news is that Domino's not only offers students a 35% discount, which you can receive free with UNiDAYS, but they also provide a variety of other promotions and discounts. Check out their website.

Zizzi's - If you're looking for pizza, extra cheese, or a dish of pasta, Zizzi is the place to go. It's fun from start to end. 20% discount is available from Sunday to Thursday with UNiDAYS. The restaurant is within the Derbion retail mall.

The Argosy – A friendly bunch, serving up good quality and value food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Get a 20% student discount on food, Monday to Friday, at Sizzling Pubs with TOTUM.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Visit our webpages for more Derby City insights and places to visit.

About the author

Culinary student Greta Vaičytė.

Greta Vaičytė

I am an international student from Lithuania. I am currently in my third year of studies towards a bachelor's in Professional Culinary Management. I chose to study this course because it is a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together!