Being a student is tough. The perpetual conflict between eating well and seshing hard leaves little time to worry about anything else. According to the NUS, the average student spends about £24.32 on food per week. That’s almost £100 a month- a hefty blow to my bev budget. So, I took one for the team and decided to embark on the £10 food budget challenge. This meant that for a whole seven days I had just £10 to wine and dine myself. Let me tell you now, it was doable, but it was HELL. No Deliveroo, no pints at the SU… my happiness quickly became a thing of the past. Alas, acting as a martyr for my cause I persevered and documented my results for all you lovely readers. You. Are. Welcome.
Having just £10 to fill the infinite void that is my stomach, I quickly ascertained that home cooked meals were the way forward. After taking inspiration from the legendary feat of this Save The Student article, I nicked a few recipes and hoped I would be able to pull off the challenge to as higher calibre.
I planned, I cried, I set my task into action.
The shopping list
I ventured into Asda’s online groceries and filtered all my results from ‘most relevant’ to ‘prices: low to high’. I filled my virtual basket with the bare minimum and wept as I checked out my weekly shop of just £9.98. My purchases were as follows:
Porridge Oats- 75p for a massive old bag
Pears – cheaper than apples, coming in at just 70p for a bag.
Rice- 45p for 1 kilo. A steal.
Onions – 57p for 3.
Garlic granules – 59p (fresh garlic cost 60p but at this stage every penny counted).
Tinned tomatoes – 34p per can.
Bread – 59p for one wholemeal loaf.
Baked Beans- 23p per can.
Tinned Mushrooms – 38p per can (compared to a whopping 68p for the fresh variety. Thatcher’s Britain!).
Peppers- 99p for 3.
Soft cheese- 69p (rolled back from 80p. Result.).
Carrots – 30p per bag.
Spinach – 70p per bag.
Eggs- 70p for 6.
Milk- 99p for 4 pints.
Coffee- 78p for a jar.
Total cost- £9.98.
The worst week of my life
Breakfast- This was the easiest meal to manage as having purchased a massive fuck off bag of porridge and pot of coffee I was set. Was plain porridge with milk enjoyable? No. Was it cheap? Yes. I had made my decision and, in actual fact, you get used to a flavourless life pretty quickly.
Lunch- this started off pretty well. Beans on toast lasted Monday and Tuesday, egg and soldiers Wednesday and Thursday. Come Friday, I was sick of the sight of toast, but settled for a creamy hell of knock-off soft cheese and past-its-peak bread. A cruel reality, but the path I had chosen.
Life was looking grim but I just had the weekend to power on. An omelette with spinach on Saturday and scrambled eggs on Sunday saw me through. Every meal was finished off with a pear, even though they went a bit mushy towards the end.
Although boring and monotonous, life somehow seemed simpler. Had I digressed? Was this dietary compromise what it’s really like in ‘adulthood’? All I knew was I was counting my lucky stars this string of Satanic dieting was but a week long and not an indefinite feat.
Dinner- This was unquestionably the worst part of the challenge. 1) Because I hate cooking. 2) Because I love the social aspect of eating out/ordering in with my pals. Nothing screams ‘friends bonding’ like the doorbell’s sweet melody caressing my ears as our Nando’s arrives. For this week, however, I was confined to my cupboard, and thus, a life of solitude.
Meals I cooked included rice with a tomato sauce (using the onions, peppers, garlic granules and tinned tommies). Whether it was the blandness of my meal or crushing sense of FOMO as my housemates ordered Dominoes, I did not know, but what was certain was I that I was DONE with this shit and it was only Monday. The next day I tried to spice up my life and create a creamy soft-cheese sauce with mushrooms, whacking in a dash of garlic powder for good measure. I added a few spinach leaves as it was increasingly looking like a grey gloopy mess, although I was strict not to use more than precisely four leaves- they had to last me the rest of the week, after all.
Both these meals saw me through to Friday as I cooked in bulk and froze the leftovers like my life depended on it (which, in a way, it kind of did).
It was the end of the week, and simultaneously, my patience. Saturday was a low point as I munched on some dry toast with carrot sticks, weeping at the memory of optimism. I realised on Sunday, however, that this noble sacrifice had been totally unnecessary as I had a fuck tonne of veg left over. I whipped it all up into a stir-fry extravaganza and gobbled down the lot, with the knowledge that this was my last supper making the incorporated garlic granules taste all the sweeter.
Ultimately, the task was achievable. Would I do this again? FUCK NO. In fact, I can think of a long list of things I would rather do, including sticking pins in my eyes and repeatedly banging my head against a brick wall.
I can honestly say I would rather dedicate all my part-time salary to sweet, sweet cuisine/delve even further into my overdraft then make this challenge from hell a regular occurrence. I’d done my bit for humanity and was ready to revert back to my ready-meal ways.
Have you done the £10 challenge? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!