What to Buy on Your First Uni Food Shop

By Issy Goode - 16:18

As I've been throwing information at you lovely freshers' a lot lately I thought we could sit back and have some dinner. As long as you're cooking? I like my food poisoning non-existent. 

Back home I always do the weekly food shop with my mum and never understood why parents hated the hassle of doing it so much, until the money was in my hands. Food can be cheap or expensive, it all depends on what you buy, where you shop and how willing you are to cook from scratch. 

When you first arrive at uni use those last precious moments with your parents to go on a glorious food shop, do some puppy dog eyes and they might even buy it all for you. It's a good idea to get to know your shop straight away, so I'd advise not to rely on doing most of it back home. It's good to know where your local supermarket is and what kind of price you'll be looking at. The first shop of the semester is usually the most expensive (hence those puppy dog eyes) so don't be surprised if you go well over £50. Though I even know people who spend £100 of their parents money, but some students eat a lot - if you're one of those students be really careful of where you shop, because some supermarkets can be ridiculous. 

To give you an idea of what you (or your parents) will be spending all that money on in the first shop, I've written up a list of some of the things I bought with a few extras thrown in, I hope you get some idea of what's useful to have!

By the time of your first shop you really need to have some idea of the meals you'll be cooking, things like spaghetti bolognase, pasta bake, chilli con carne and curry are all pretty simple - if you're struggling with recipes I'll be posting some simple ones up soon!

  • Food
  • Pasta/spaghetti/rice - 1kg bags should last you for quite a few meals
  • Noodles - great snack
  • Baked beans
  • Bread
  • Meat & fish - chicken/mince meat/bacon/tinned tuna/frozen fillets/prawns
  • Fresh veg - carrots/potatoes/onions/peppers
  • Frozen veg - you'll get fed up of finding mouldy veg all the time, trust me
  • Sauces - they'll be an important condiment to many of your meals. Things like tomato or creamy mushroom pasta sauces are great, and buy some curry pastes and sauces too. And oh God pesto, it's amazing
  • Cheese - but don't get hooked on it, cheese will make you fat, I found out the hard way
  • Salt & pepper
  • Soup - stock up on tins for when you simply can't be bothered to cook
  • Tinned spaghetti - I basically lived off this for a few weeks
  • Chopped tomatoes - they're easy to whack in any meal
  • Snacks - crisps/chocolate - simply anything tasty you'll enjoy nibbling on when you're hungover
  • Breakfast food - such as spreads for toast, cereals or porridge
  • Eggs - my favourite thing when I was drunk was a bacon and egg sandwich at 4am, it also contributed to a few gained lbs
  • Sugar
  • Stock cubes/gravy

  • Drinks/liquids
  • Alcohol - now don't take the mickey with this if your parents are buying, alcohol can be pricey so look for some good deals. Don't stock up too much during freshers week because you're likely to drink it all straight away
  • Squash
  • Juice
  • Milk
  • Coffee
  • Tea bags
  • Hot chocolate
  • Mixers

So, that's the basics of it! You don't need to buy everything on the list, it's just something to go by and consider. The 'last minute things' are best to buy before you arrive at uni but they're likely to be available in any supermarket near by if you forget. Good luck with the first shop, don't blow the budget on the first day! Feel free to leave me a comment if there's anything you'd recommend for a first shop.
  • Bathroom/health
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Hairspray
  • Hair gel or other products
  • Dry shampoo - I used this a lot for nights out when my hair just wasn't cooperating to give it a boost
  • Deodorant
  • Body spray
  • Sanitary products
  • Shower gel
  • Shaving products
  • Paracetamol
  • Lemsip - such a life saver
  • Throat sweets - you're gonna need them
  • Toilet roll
  • Facial wipes

  • Kitchen
  • Sponges - these get grubby quickly, try hide your spares in your room. You won't have much choice but to sacrifice your in use one to the wrath of others
  • Dish clothes
  • Brillo pads - these will seriously help when you burn stuff or it sticks to the pan
  • Grease proof paper
  • Tin foil
  • Sandwich bags & ties
  • Washing up liquid
  • Some kind of antibacterial spray - if your kitchen is anything like mine, you'll bloody need it
  • Last minute things (which you will have hopefully brought with you)
  • Crockery
  • Cutlery
  • Saucepans
  • Frying pan
  • Wooden spoons
  • Chopping board
  • Chopping knives
  • Spatula
  • Pizza cutter
  • Cheese grater
  • Mixing bowl
  • Baking trays
  • Cake tin - great for making friends birthday cakes
  • Lasagne dish
  • Tea towels
  • Small lunch boxes - also great for freezing leftovers in


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  1. I was lucky enough that when I moved in with my boyfriend, he was already really good at food shopping so I didn't have to worry much. If it was just me though, I think I'd be screwed!! It's also very important to eat before grocery shopping!

    1. Ah that is lucky! My mum had always taught me well but being completely independent got me a little over excited and on several occasions I bought some really pointless crap! haha. Oh gosh yeah, that's very true!

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. This will be so useful!! I am going to be dragging my mum shopping on my first day :) I always say that a list is better when food shopping or else you just buy what you fancy eating then and there (or at least i do) :S

    1. Glad to hear! It's best to get it out of the way straight away :) Oh gosh yes! Always always take a list (I may add that in to the post!) because you just get sidetracked and buy things you really don't need. Aha no harm in snacking :P

  3. I feel like I should be printing this out and handing it to freshers at uni this week! I feel like "Toilet Roll" should written in giant, bold letters - in my flat last year, we had at least 1 person going from door-to-door asking to 'borrow' some (wtf does that even mean... who returns toilet roll??) every single week!

    Hope your fund-raising is going well!


    1. Aha I might do that you know! Borrow?! The word 'borrow' is constantly misused. That must have been so annoying! It's not even that expensive if you buy the supermarket brands.

      Hasn't really got started yet, but I'll get there! Thank you :)

  4. Ah this post is so useful! I remember when I first moved I was completely lost when it came to shopping

    1. Thank you! I hadn't even thought about my first shop, I got all unpacked and then my parents were like 'So, food shopping now?' I think it's the last thing you think of when you go to uni. There's so much else going on haha :)


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