£12 a week food budget… but how can we afford all those post night out McDonalds? Featured

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The debate over benefit amounts and cuts has run wild for the past few weeks, culminating on the government deciding that a family on benefits should receive no more than £26,000 (after tax). From July, claimants across England, Scotland and Wales will face the benefit cap of £350 a week for a single adult and £500 for a couple or single parent.

Student living feels like a similar kick in the teeth. Budgeting and bargain hunting have become crucial in my weekly spending decisions. A nutrition professor at the University of Kings has claimed that an adult could spend as little as £12 a week on food. His idea involves cutting meat intake to once or twice a week to reduce expenses and filling up on starchy foods and cheap fruit and vegetables. His idea of home cooking each night does make sense to me – long gone are the weekly trips to Pizza Express, Zizzis and Nandos.

So, after looking at Professor Sander’s £12 a week budget, I whisked myself off to Morrison’s to see how much a food shop for 2 weeks would cost me. My biggest spends were meat and fish with prawns costing £3, chicken costing £5 and bacon costing £4. Already hit the £12 mark… All in all my fortnightly shop came to £23.57. I’d even included rolls and sandwich fillers for lunch to make sure I avoided the temptation of chips and burgers from the Students Union.

But then came the morning where I overslept and didn't have time to make my packed lunch, and the next evening where I just didn't really fancy 'Morrison’s M Savers Pasta' with a tin of chopped tomatoes for the third time in a week. So, off to the local and highly expensive co-op I went, where I spent an additional £7 in a week on food. I never said I was a good budgeter.

This year I've managed to live off of my student loan to pay for accommodation, income from work to live off of, and a little batting of the eyelashes to my parents every time I wanted something that was outside of my budget. £12 a week probably is possible to live off, but I don’t know any student that wants to eat lentil curry on a hangover.

Amelia Sweeney

I'm an English Lit and Greek Civilisation student at the University of Leeds and I am a complete self-confessed film and book fanatic.

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