Isabella Drake, 22, is in her third year of her business management and marketing degree at Leeds University. To ease the burden of her university costs – which sees her rake out £9,250-a-year for her course and £650-a-month on her accommodation and bills – Isabella has adopted some money saving hacks.
As well as batch cooking all of her meals to last the week, she shops around for the best prices per item and goes to multiple supermarkets when it comes to doing her grocery shop.
Isabella also rarely buys drinks when she goes out opting to pre-drink before hand, and even brings her own tea bags with her on campus and buys a 30p cup of hot water to stop her forking out £2.40 for a cup of tea.
Isabella, originally from Shepperton, Surrey, saves around £60-a-month and said: “I was really broke in second year and I got to the end of the semester and decided to learn how to make oat milk. I soaked the oats in water and blended and strained it. I don’t drink as much milk anymore but when I used to drink loads of tea, I would make it all the time and using it for cereal is good.
“I think it helped me save quite a bit month-to-month. Around £6 a month saved on buying milk, which is the price of a drink going out. I come from a single parent household, so I’ve always known how to budget, and I buy enough food to feed four people and bulk make meals by batch cooking. I think I save around £60-a-month on meal prep and using alternatives.”
Isabella makes meals she can easily reheat and use throughout the week – saving her from regular shopping trips.
She said: “When you’re a busy university student you want convenience. With spaghetti bolognese and chilli you can freeze that to keep for a few days. A lot of my housemates do it as you just can’t waste food either. You know when you have those days when you don’t want to cook? It’s so tempting to get a takeaway but there’s no need when you can just use your batch cooked meals.”
But before making her meals, Isabella shops around for the best prices, buying food from different shops.
She said: “I go to different shops as well, not just the one, I shop around. Home Bargains has packets of coffee with milk already in for 75p and across the shopping centre in Morrisons they were much more expensive. It’s also going to cost more going to a smaller local shop than a bigger supermarket.
“Morrisons had a certain pasta sauce on a good deal too, so I’d always go there and buy that instead of just getting all of my bits from one shop. The Too Good To Go app is also really helpful as you’re saving food from going to waste and you can get a whole back of food for £3.
“One thing that I do that makes it cheaper is I don’t buy chips, I cut potatoes and put them in the air fryer. Chicken as well – I always buy a whole one, instead of just two chicken breasts, so I can use it for more meals.”
In a recent video posted on her TikTok, Isabella revealed how she often takes teabags on campus with her to save money on buying a cup of tea.
As well as encouraging people to buy an air fryer and make snacks out of leftover food rather than buying them.
When it comes to socialising and nights out, Isabella rarely eats or drinks when she goes out.
She said: “I always eat before we go out instead of going out for food. We have some pre-drinks at home as much as possible, so I don’t buy as many drinks when I’m out. For events I always buy tickets as far ahead as I can when they’re cheaper.”
– Using multiple supermarkets for the best prices when doing a food shop
– Making your own oat milk
– Taking tea bags to campus
– Batch cooking meals
– Pre-drinking to avoid spending on drinks when going out
– Buying whole chickens to use in multiple meals
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