Eating on a Budget - Student Style

You look through your online banking app. Ouch. The £3.50 doubles at C U Next Tuesday are just a bit too good. You smile faintly, remembering drunk “I just love you so much” chats with your mates in The Arch smoking shelter and a vague recollection of a Shrek cardboard cut-out, but then reality hits. You have £12.53 to your name and exactly 15 days until the next student loan drops. You’re also violently hungover and if you try to walk to the shop you might die. You simply must make do with whatever you have in your cupboards. What a sad little life Jane. Luckily, I’ve perfected the broke student scran menu, really ‘bottom of the barrel’ stuff, so you don’t have to. Hope you’ve got your ticket, all aboard the struggle bus.

1. Pesto Pasta

Pasta is a staple. Boil up your spaghetti and stir in the pesto. In just under 12 minutes, you can be eating like royalty. Well, maybe not royalty. Unless the pesto was from Waitrose. Honourable mention to pasta and ketchup, too. Never lets you down.

2. Beans on Toast

I’m convinced there is not a bad time to eat beans on toast. Breakfast? Dinner? 4am after dancing the night away in Shooshh? It’s a classic and must be preserved in the student zeitgeist. You can add cheese on top for extra oomph.

3. Cereal

Just like it’s savoury sibling above, cereal is also an all-rounder. Not the most Gordon Ramsey of the lot but you cannot go wrong with a bowl of coco pops whilst watching some trash tv. Nutrition is for nerds.


In preparation to write this article, naturally I began asking friends and colleagues their best cheap meals. It very quickly turned into “What I’ve Eaten When I’ve Had Literally Nothing Else In My Cupboard”. Here are some of my favourites:

“Fourteen Yorkshire puddings. No sauces.”

“Needed to eat before work and all I had was half a cucumber and 7 hash browns”

“Five slices of bread and butter”

“When I was in halls once my freezer had nothing in but frozen peas and prawns that went out of date that day. I fried them both up, ate it and chundered almost instantly. I still can’t eat prawns”

“A kilo of yoghurt – I’m lactose intolerant”

“A bowl of frozen veg and BBQ sauce”

“Woke up aggressively hungover and all I had to eat was cold kebab from the night before. It was actually alright”

“A can of cold spaghetti hoops and half a Lucozade”

“I was so hungover I couldn’t breathe but I went to The Arch on a Tuesday just for the free pizza and donuts”

Being a student is tough. I think we should get a medal alongside our degree when we graduate just for surviving. Trust me, whatever struggle meals you come up with, someone else has come up with worse. We’re all in this together.