Student Food Budget: How Much Do Students Spend on Food?

student food budget
student food budget

One of the most crucial things at university is eating healthily. However, you may have heard some terrifying tales about the common kitchens at universities and the high cost of food. This is why most students ask about the food budget or how much can they spend on food.

While it’s not difficult to picture yourself ordering on most evenings, it can be difficult to manage your food budget while adjusting to academic life. Not to worry! Most students have a similar situation.

Students typically spend £20 per week on food purchases. Oxford students spend £27 per week on average, while Leicester students spend £13 per week on average. 

But because they also spend approximately £12 a week on takeout, students spend roughly £32 on food each week. One of, if not often the biggest expense students have is food.

To learn all about the student food budget and how much students spend on food, check out the rest of this article.

How expensive is food at university?

If you don’t stick to a budget, food costs can quickly add up while you’re a student. Takeout is a popular choice among students since it is quick and easy. It’s easy to understand why students prefer takeout cuisine, but it can get pricey!

According to research, students spend an average of £49 (or £12.25) each month on takeout. If it wasn’t a takeout, this money could be spread out over two or three meals rather than just one.

Of course, the cost of food might differ significantly based on where you buy and the type of diet you choose. Although these figures represent the typical student budget for shopping in recent times, but you might spend more or less as the case may be.

However, keep in mind that the cost of meals at university can add up rapidly, so you should always keep an eye on your spending or food budget. You can keep it under control by limiting your weekly spending.

Read also: Can You Get Extra Time For Exams Due To Anxiety in UK?

Do universities provide their food?

Most institutions will offer dining halls; if you have any questions about catering services, check out your university’s website. You can purchase breakfast, brunch, and dinner meals at dining halls, usually for a fair price!

To purchase prepared meals in university residences, you’ll likely require a student ID card that you may top up with cash. See, for instance, the pages on how and how much students can buy food at UCL and University College, Oxford.

The webpage for your university has the same information. If you don’t want to cook and want a quick, affordable lunch, university halls are a terrific resource.

Should you learn to cook at university?

In general, cooking is an excellent talent to have, but it’s even better to have it for college. Home cooking not only results in much lower costs but also better food consumption, as demonstrated by a Harvard study. We will list some of the many advantages of learning to cook in college below.

First off, cooking at home is significantly less expensive than dining out. I already indicated in the post that students spend, on average, £20 per week on groceries.

The £12 a week spent on takeout certainly only covers 2 meals, whereas this sum of money covers the full week. According to Finder, the average price of a takeout meal in the UK is close to £8. Therefore, your monthly food shopping expenses would be £80.

Second, you have complete control over what you make in a student kitchen. You can eat what you want and stay healthy as a result. 

Cooking at home with friends is another perk! It’s not necessary to hate cooking. A weekly or more schedule of group meals can be very beneficial to mental health and is typically less expensive as well. University kitchens make excellent communal areas.

You can read this: Unknown Benefits of Amazon Prime Student Accounts For College

Student cooking tips and tricks

When you first arrive at university, it can be intimidating to imagine having to prepare all of your meals on your own. Cooking will become a lot more pleasurable (and less expensive!) after you get the hang of things and feel comfortable in the kitchen.

You can save a lot of money by avoiding splurging on pricey takeaways and restaurant meals. You might also host dinner parties for your pals and demonstrate your talents there.

It takes some time and patience to become an exceptional cook; it doesn’t happen immediately. Fortunately, the advice and methods for students listed below will be quite helpful.

Use more food seasoning

One of the finest and simplest culinary advice for college students is to, spice things up. We’re telling you, a little seasoning can make even the most boring cuisine extraordinary.

A little seasoning can spruce up a cheap can of beans or a pack of noodles if you embrace the grocery downshift and start opting for the “basics” when you shop for groceries every week.

Consider what other spices and herbs you enjoy, just as salt and pepper are vital to have in the kitchen. They may entirely alter your eating and cooking habits.

Adding a little cayenne pepper, paprika, or chili powder will give almost any dish a pleasant kick. On the other hand, dried basil and oregano are excellent.

You can check this: How to Pay Off Your Student Loans in 5 Years: A Step-by-Step Guide

Stock up on basic cupboard supplies

You’ll begin to realize that many recipes employ the same basic components as you cook more frequently.

Stocking up on them is a wise idea because of this. Knowing you already have the majority of the ingredients for a dinner makes it much simpler to put it together.

Fortunately, we have a thorough list of necessities for students’ kitchen cabinets that will point you on the right path.

At first, it could seem like a bit of a cost to spend, but they will endure for years and end up saving you money.

Learn an easy tomato sauce recipe

Discover how to prepare a straightforward but delicious tomato sauce, and you’re set! You may use a base like this to produce wonderful enchiladas, stews in the Spanish manner, casseroles, Bolognese, chilli con carne, and other foods in addition to pasta dishes.

Everyone makes tomato sauce in their unique style using their flavors and spices. Once you’ve got it down, you can add any meat or vegetables you like and serve it with whatever else you choose (such as couscous, rice, pasta, or potatoes).

In addition to being healthy, tomato sauce is also inexpensive to create and gives some diversity if the components are changed. It also stores well in the refrigerator and continues to taste wonderful for days.

Also, check this: 30 College Friendsgiving Food Ideas in 2024 | Prepare With Ease

Buy the right kitchen pans

Most people believe that having a larger variety of pans will help them cook better, but you only need two pans. If you can, try to purchase one decent and one affordable one.

We advise purchasing a decently made non-stick frying pan with a lid and some depth.

In a pan, you can cook just about anything besides soups. Non-stick cookware is also incredibly simple to clean.

For the previously mentioned soup cooking, we’d suggest acquiring an inexpensive, deeper pan as your second pan. Additionally, it is advantageous to cook two halves of a meal simultaneously.

Use a microwave more

Underrated is the microwave. If you use it properly, your microwave may be a dependable partner in creating a superior dinner.

Indeed, a microwave will never be as effective at cooking food as a stove or an oven. However, using it is easier and results in far less cleanup.

From poppadoms to salmon to caramel sauce, this list of items you didn’t know you could cook in the microwave is packed with undiscovered gems.

See also: When Do Graduate Schemes Open For 2024?

Start freezing food

The fight for freezer space is one of the largest culinary disputes that a student is likely to run into. If you freeze food, it can last considerably longer, so having a large enough freezer to share with your roommates is very helpful.

A tip is to use freezer bags rather than boxes because they take up less space. You can spoon even single servings of soups, sauces, or other foods into separate bags. When necessary, thaw them after that.

You can freeze many things that you probably didn’t know you could.

Try one-pot recipes

They are simple to prepare and may be divided into several servings to be consumed over the week. Additionally, one-pot meals typically cost less to prepare and require less cleanup.

Start with one of our straightforward soup recipes. Or, you may attempt our delicious pulled pork dish if you have a slow cooker.

Related post: 21 Best Winter Break Jobs for College Students to Make Extra Cash

Cook with vegetarian mince

If you haven’t tried vegetarian meat substitutes like Quorn, we can attest that they’re excellent.

The mince is arguably the most popular Quorn item. Along with being significantly cheaper, it also contains far less fat and virtually as much protein as traditional mince. Additionally, you may store it for months in the freezer.

How does it taste? The majority of mince recipes include some sort of sauce. Ultimately, the flavor of that is absorbed by both meat and Quorn.

Even while Quorn has a slightly different texture than meat, you won’t be able to tell the difference if you use it in meals like spaghetti Bolognese or chili con carne. Also, this can help with the food budget as a student.

Learn cooking skills from friends and family

Practicing your cooking abilities with friends and roommates is a terrific method to get better at it. Even if you don’t like all their cooking methods, observing how other people make food is a great way to practice and broaden your culinary horizons.

In the kitchen, remember that your method isn’t always the best. Be open-minded because people can become rather defensive when their cooking methods are questioned. You never know, it might be fun to experiment with a different way to cut onions.

In your dorm as a student, cooking for one another is also enjoyable. To expand your culinary knowledge, you may even request the recipes for the foods you enjoy.

See also: 30 Dorm Room Food Ideas For College | 2024

Go food shopping with friends

It’s up to you whether or not you want to go grocery shopping with friends. It is entirely reasonable why some people prefer to shop alone so they won’t be distracted by other people’s purchases.

However, the advantage of shopping with a companion is that you may frequently save money by making bulk purchases.

Thus, if you and a friend are both going to buy pasta, for instance, you may save money by purchasing a large package and splitting it.

Or, if you see any multi-buy discounts at the grocery store, splitting the price with someone else can be a fantastic way to save money.

What is the Average Cost of Food Per Month for College Students?

According to extensive research on college eating, 36% of students purchase their food from off-campus retail, grocery, or convenience stores, 26% from on-campus food service facilities, and 25% from off-campus restaurants. The general acceptance of different dietary options by students is shown on a broad scale.

Given that 49% of college students identify as foodies, they can experiment with various food options whenever a food need strikes by hopping between campus dining halls, restaurants, grocers, and convenience stores.

So, if you eat off-campus, cook at home or in your dorm, or have signed up for an on-campus meal plan, the costs will still be incurred. Check it out for yourself:

  • On average, college students spend $341 each month on food off-campus.
  • The average cost of meals prepared at home or in the dorms per month is $206.
  • The typical monthly cost of a campus dining plan is $563.
  • The average cost of a vegan meal prepared solely at home or in a dorm is $200 per month.

Breakfast through dinner may be expensive and mount up rather quickly, especially for a college student, whether there is a meal plan on campus or not. And there is no denying that it is immensely scarier to view the figures up close.

It may never have been more apparent to you than it is today when you consider how quickly money may be squandered on meals.

Related post: 10 Best Dorm Room Refrigerators for College Students

What to Do if You’re Over Budget and Tips to Save Money

When it comes to cutting food costs, consider these:

  • A Personal Budget – Consider your unique financial objectives, including how much you can set aside each month for food without jeopardizing other fixed costs or necessities. No matter how much or little the food budget is, remember that it isn’t a set sum. Put greater emphasis on how that quantity can support your food preferences and health goals.
  • Your Current Eating and Diet Patterns – Have you discovered that frequent eating out can result in a lack of money? Does eating a diet high in meat and protein cause your shopping bill and cholesterol to soar? It could be a good idea to think about giving up some foods that tend to cause more harm than benefit right now. Try eating out less frequently or stocking your supermarket cart with more plant-based options. Watch the bill (and even your cholesterol) go down after some time while you relax!
  • Meal Preparation – With a little practical research and advice from a college friend who is also an expert at creating bento box meals, meal preparation can be made simple and economical.

When you go over your student food budget, keep the following in mind:

  • Use coupons and discounts – Who doesn’t enjoy a good deal? If so, check with your phone and laptop provider to see if you’re eligible for any discounts. Check out discounts on protection plans and streaming services. Several large corporations, including Apple and Amazon through its Prime Student service, provide student discounts on their goods and services. Students can inquire about additional discounts at their school for clubs, food, etc.
  • Meals that save money (meal preparation) – Here is a list of inexpensive foods to get you started cooking your meals while in college.
  • Kitchen tools that save money (pressure cooker)
  • Apps that save money
  • With eating out, drop out
  • Make it a habit to avoid meat on Mondays and Tuesdays.

See also: Which Year Do You Do Your A-Levels?

FAQs – Student Food Budget

How much does food for a student cost?

Groceries are the second biggest expenditure for students, coming in at £133 a month. This might seem like a lot, but it breaks down to around £31 a week – not too bad for a weekly food shop. 

How much budget should be spent on food?

Many financial advisors and gurus recommend spending no more than 10%-15% of take-home pay on food, a figure that includes restaurant dining and takeout. By this measure, a couple with $70,000 in adjusted income should keep an annual food budget in the $7,000 to $10,500 range. 

What is a realistic food budget for one person?

The average food budget for a single person is between $250 and $300 a month, but that’s just a guideline.


Consider whether or not your pick genuinely fits inside your student food budget before making a hasty decision with a growling stomach.

If you’ve ever budgeted for food while in college, you know that being ready for those stormy, uncontrollable food encounters eliminates the risk of putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation to immediately break the bank as well as your budget (all in the name of a 7-Eleven slurpee and ramen noodle challenge commitment you spent your last eight bucks on).



You May Also Like