The Ultimate Food Shopping List For Uni Students 2023

Getting into the swing of food shopping and in need of some inspo to get those fridges and cupboards stocked? We've got you...

Written byHolly Barrow
Published on
Read time4 min read

Heading off to university is an exciting time filled with new experiences and opportunities, but it’s also a time when you’ll have to adjust to having a whole host of new responsibilities that you may never have considered before. 

From managing rent and bill payments to weekly food shopping and meal prepping, there’s a lot to get to grips with - which is why we’ve come up with this handy food shopping list for uni to help you stay as organised as possible. 

As a uni student - particularly in the current economic climate - budgeting is more important than ever, and it can be easy to splurge on the likes of takeaways, meals out and even supermarket meal deals purely for their convenience. 


But this can quickly add up, with Save The Student’s National Student Money Survey 2022 finding that UK students spend on average £49 on takeaways and eating out per month. 

By planning ahead and making sure you keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with staples, you can save a significant amount of money over the academic year (though it's important to remember that everyone deserves the occasional treat, and with TOTUM and tastecard you can make huge savings on dining out, pizza delivery and much more!).

Creating a well-thought-out food shopping list is the first step, ensuring you have the right ingredients on hand for nourishing and budget-friendly meals. 

Next up, you'll want to check out our guide on how to meal prep as a student to save even more money.

But without further ado, here’s our ultimate food shopping list for university students in 2023…

What should my first uni food shop consist of?


Staple grains and cereals:

  • Rice

  • Pasta

  • Oats

  • Bread

  • Cereal

Protein sources:

  • Eggs

  • Chicken

  • Mince

  • Tuna/salmon

  • Tofu or tempeh (for vegetarians)

Fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Carrots

  • Broccoli

  • Spinach

  • Tomatoes

  • Onions

  • Potatoes


Dairy and dairy alternatives:

  • Milk (or plant-based milk such as almond or soy)

  • Cheese

  • Yoghurt

  • Butter (or margarine)

Cupboard staples:

  • Cooking oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)

  • Salt and pepper

  • Spices and herbs (e.g. garlic powder, paprika, oregano)

  • Sugar

  • Flour

Canned and packaged goods:

  • Canned beans (e.g. black beans, chickpeas)

  • Instant noodles or soup (for a quick, easy lunch)

  • Snacks (e.g. crisps, granola bars)


Frozen foods:

  • Frozen vegetables e.g. peas, broccoli, cauliflower 

  • Pizza (for when you need something quick and fuss-free)

  • Frozen fruits (if you’re partial to a smoothie!)


  • Coffee or tea

  • Juice

  • Soft drinks 


  • Ketchup

  • Mayonnaise

  • Soy sauce

Other essentials:

  • Tupperware for leftovers

  • Tinfoil 

  • Seal bags 


While this is by no means an exhaustive list, doing a big food shop to stock up on all the essentials when you first move in to your uni accommodation will save you a whole lot of time and money later on and motivate you to make homemade meals.

It goes without saying that a lot of these staples won't need replacing each time you go food shopping, so you shouldn't spend as much after your first shop!

Top tips for a budget-friendly food shop

  • Try to avoid food shopping whilst hungry - you'll be tempted to splash out on snacks to fulfil temporary cravings

  • Plan your meals before you shop so you know exactly what you need to buy, helping you to avoid wasting both food and money! For budget-friendly meal ideas, check out these five student-budget friendly recipes for under a fiver

  • Look out for offers - many supermarkets offer customers with loyalty cards exclusive deals and reduced prices, so take advantage of this

  • Find out when your local supermarket's reduction times take place - which is when produce with an upcoming best before date can be heavily discounted.

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