How To Budget For A Weekly Food Shop As A Student

Don’t know how to plan a weekly food shop? We run you through all our tips on how to budget your groceries, some meal ideas and money saving.

Written byBea Howison
Published on
Read time7 min read

So you’ve officially moved out - congrats, this is an exciting time filled with opportunities!

However, living on your own can also be daunting. There are many tasks that come with adulting, with budgeting for a weekly food shop being one of them.

This can be an overwhelming endeavour, so we’ve created this guide to keep things as simple as possible for you.


First thing's first, you need to figure out your budget for your weekly food shop. A good way to do this is to first assess your income vs expenses, so how much are you receiving into your account each month?

This includes any money you get from your student loan, a part-time job or maybe a little help from parents or family members.

Once this is established, try and work out how much you’re spending each month in order to figure out how much you want to allocate to groceries.

This can vary person to person, but a good average budget to work with is around £20-30.

If you live with friends, a partner or family, it can be a useful idea to look into splitting your shop - this is a good way to save money each week.


Staples that won’t be included in every weekly shop

Every weekly food shop is going to look different, for many reasons. For example, you may simply want to mix up your meals if you’re someone who gets bored easily. Another reason your food shop may change in price each week is due to leftovers from the week before as well as cupboard essentials running out.

So, one week you might be buying an olive oil, but this doesn’t need to be included in your weekly food shop budget as it should last you a month or so. Again, this is an item which could be split amongst friends or housemates.

Cupboard staples:

Herbs and Spices – Try to build a good selection of these, as they can transform even the simplest of ingredients and elevate the most basic dishes.

Staples include:

  • Garlic granules

  • Onion granules

  • Smoked paprika

  • Oregano

  • Cumin

  • Garam masala

  • Turmeric

  • Cayenne pepper

  • All spice

  • Dried parsley

Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper


Olive oil is the perfect oil of choice, not only prized for its rich flavour and versatility in dishes, but for its numerous health benefits. It is advised to get your olive oil in a dark glass bottle, where possible.

Rice and Pasta

Rice and pasta may need to be purchased every couple of weeks. To save money throughout the year, many students opt for a large bag of pasta or rice to stock their cupboard, rather than buying individual packs.

Be sure to look at the options for this at your supermarket if you’re interested as it can be super convenient and cost-effective.


Vegetable/Chicken Stock, Soy Sauce & Vinegar

These items are all things that should last you longer than the weekly food shop and won’t be considered in this budget.

Meal Planning

Now for the weekly essentials! It is up to you to decide how you want to organise your shopping list. A popular method amongst many is creating and adhering to a weekly meal plan.

This means before your food shop, you take some time to think about your upcoming week and what meals you want to allocate to each day and evening. For example, on a Monday night you'll have Spaghetti Bolognese, on a Tuesday you'll have Tacos etc...


This allows you to purchase the exact ingredients needed for each meal helping to avoid food waste, and also saves time in the evenings during the week when you may be struggling to know what to make.

Consider your plans for the week and whether you plan to be home each night and how many people you'll be cooking for. Also evaluate how busy you'll be during the week, opting for some quick and easy meals to avoid stress.

Meal Prepping

Some people like to go one step further and actually meal prep. Meal preparation involves the strategic planning and pre-cooking of meals ahead of time.

This entails dividing them into portions and storing them in your refrigerator or freezer, allowing for convenient grab-and-go options without the need to cook from scratch for each meal.


The primary objective of meal prep is to maximise efficiency and savings by cooking recipes in larger quantities, minimising food waste and reducing expenses compared to preparing individual servings separately.

If you want to give meal prepping a go and want some more tips and tricks be sure to check out this blog post.

Weekly Food Shop Suggestions

If you are more of an intuitive eater and wish to just do a general weekly food shop, we have some suggestions to help make this easy and affordable.

First, categorise your shopping list into different sections: meat/fish, dairy, fresh fruit and veg, frozen and cupboard. These categories can be used to make up different meals.

It’s a good idea to have items that work well together in order to keep things convenient and tasty.


In order to keep things exciting, pick a couple from each of these categories to build your weekly food shop.


  • Full Fat Yoghurt

  • Butter

  • Milk (or alternative)

  • Cheeses (select 2): Cheddar, Feta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Cream Cheese


Meat and Fish (select 3):

  • Tinned Tuna

  • Mince beef

  • Chicken thighs

  • Chicken breast

  • Frozen wild caught salmon

  • Frozen wild caught prawns

Fresh Fruit and Veg:

Pick 1 of these for yoghurt bowls (great for breakfast or dessert):

  • Strawberries

  • Blueberries

  • Raspberries

Pick 2 of these for on-the-go snacks:

  • Oranges

  • Bananas

  • Apples

  • Pears

  • Grapes


Pick 1 of these as a salad base:

  • Rocket

  • Lettuce

  • Spinach

Pick 2 of these to add to your salad:

  • Tomatoes

  • Avocado

  • Cucumber

  • Spring onion

  • Beetroot

Pick 1 of these to have as a side with meals:

  • Broccoli

  • Kale

  • Green beans

  • Asparagus

Pick 2 of these to add to meals such as curries, stir fries and pastas:

  • Mushrooms

  • Courgette

  • Peppers

  • Aubergine

  • Cauliflower


  • Chopped tomatoes x2

  • Tomato paste

  • Coconut milk

  • Eggs

  • Bread


Weekly food shop example for £25.52 from ASDA:

  • ASDA 6 Large Free Range Eggs

  • ASDA British Milk Semi Skimmed 2 Pints

  • Lancashire Farm Natural Yoghurt (1kg)

  • ASDA Large Avocado

  • ASDA Loose Bananas x2

  • ASDA Ripe & Sweet Strawberries

  • ASDA Extra Special White Sourdough

  • ASDA Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese

  • ASDA Red Pepper

  • ASDA Sweet & Fruity Baby Plum Tomatoes 300g

  • ASDA Wild Rocket

  • ASDA Crisp & Earthy Unwashed Sliced Curly Kale

  • ASDA Tomato Puree Double Concentrate 200g

  • JUST ESSENTIALS by ASDA Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice x2

  • ASDA Flavourful Reduced Fat Beef Steak Mince 500g

  • ASDA Tender Chicken Breast Fillets 600g

Don't forget, thanks to TOTUM Cashback, you can earn cashback on your whole food shop when you shop at a range of supermarkets including ASDA, Sainsbury's, M&S, Waitrose and Farmfoods!


  • Earn 6% cashback (Av) on purchases in-store and online

  • Over 80 big-name brands with more added all the time

  • No minimum top-up or top-up fees

  • Use your TOTUM discount and pay with TOTUM Cashback to maximise your shopping!

Check out more tips on how to meal prep on a budget and the ultimate food shopping list for uni students!

Join the TOTUM club!

Join TOTUM Student for FREE to access hundreds of student discounts on big-name brands like ASOS, Apple, MyProtein, boohoo, Samsung, and more!

Sign up for FREE, download the TOTUM app, and enjoy the latest offers, vouchers, coupons and more at your fingertips. Find out more.

Download The TOTUM App

Google PlayStoreApple App Store
Join TOTUM and download our app

Stories like this

Related offers