10 Tips to save money while cooking

Written by: Nena Julia Aichholzer, 22.04.2021

Apart from housing and transportation, food is one of the greatest expenses. Especially students often don’t have a big budget available. New books, long party nights, movie dates or trips – student life is exciting while your wallet is getting emptier. Are you always running out of money by the end of the month? You don’t have time for a part-time job? Do not worry! We are about to give you 10 tips on how you can save some bucks while cooking and still eat healthy. Because if you want, a healthy diet works very economically and without much effort too – perfect for the student kitchen!

1. Write a shopping list

If you think carefully about what you need before you go grocery shopping and write a list of all the ingredients you need for the next three days, for example, you can save yourself a lot of money. Because you will only buy what you really need and you are not tempted to make impulse purchases and spend your money on things that you don’t actually need. You also reduce your own food waste, because if you only buy necessary things, you will not have to throw away any food!

Before you write your shopping list, look in the refrigerator and see what you have left and how you want to use it!

Bonus tip: Do not go shopping hungry! Because a growling stomach often makes you buy a lot more than you actually need!

2. Buy in bulk

Reducing your food spending starts by going shopping with intention. It is often worth buying ingredients that are easy to store, such as oatmeal, nuts, dried fruits, lentils, beans and pasta in large quantities. The “Koro Drogerie”, for example, is an online shop for all kinds of food in bulk. Buying in bulk will save you some money and is also more sustainable! You also save time here, as your purchase will be delivered to your door and you will then be supplied with the essentials for a long time.

3. Seasonal and regional

The fewer transport routes your food has to go through, the fresher and more nutritious it will be. This is not only great for your health, but also for your wallet! Strawberries do not taste good in winter anyways, so try switching to apples from the farmers market next door! If you have the opportunity to go shopping at the weekly market or at a nearby farmer, take it! By consuming directly from the producer they do not have to pay suppliers, supermarket chains and other alike! In addition, farmers are happy when their work is valued and may give you a small thank you in the form of free veggies or fruits. Support your local farmer!

4. Cook for yourself

Ready-made products do not only contain many unhealthy ingredients, but are also much more expensive than a home-cooked meal. Sure, you save a little time, which can be beneficial in stressful exam phases because you don’t have to worry about what to cook, but if you cook a tasty and nutritious meal during a study break, you will definitely be able concentrate better afterwards!

However, there are some recipes that you can cook for yourself in only a few minutes – get inspired by these 15 minute recipes!

STUWO tip: Try these one pot recipes which save money and time! Plus, almost no dishes to clean!

5. Meal Prep

Good preparation is half the battle! This does not only apply to your next exam, but also to your next dinner. If you have a busy schedule, it can be helpful to pre-cook a few dishes on the weekend. For example, you can take time to cook a few dishes on Sundays, which you can simply heat up over the course of the week or wrap up and take with you to university. Why pre-cook? Well, if you always have something to eat with you, you do not have to buy a kebab or an expensive sandwich from the bakery next door when you get hungry, which will save you money! What initially sounds like a small step will soon turn out to be a noticeable measure on your financial situation, trust us!

Bonus tip: Overnight – oats are a great option for students who do not have much time in the morning. Prepare your breakfast the evening before to avoid junk food cravings and the associated impulse purchases. Here you can find a basic recipe for overnight oats!

6. Go for plant-based options!

Don’t worry, nobody is forcing you to be a full-time vegan. Nevertheless, plant-based products, especially plant-based proteins, tend to be cheaper than animal protein. It’s no secret that students are often short on cash. So try to be a vegetarian for once! Beans and lentils, for example, provide you with plenty of protein and not only make your biceps look big, but also your wallet. Try to reduce your meat consumption and switch to alternative products and you will see: even a lentil Bolognese tastes incredibly good, fills you up and saves you some money, too!

7. Sharing is caring!

What may sound counterproductive at first is in fact one of the most effective cost-cutting measures we are going to introduce to you here. Implement Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays or other themed food – days in your group of friends, on which you cook for each other or even together! You can share the costs, spend quality time together and the fun is guaranteed anyway!

8. Take advantage of student offers

The vast majority of universities have their own cafeteria, where you will find daily changing lunch menus for little money. From fried fish to vegan stew, every student who doesn’t feel like cooking himself can get something warm to eat here. Incidentally, many universities offer so-called “cafeteria stickers”. With these you get the already inexpensive menus even cheaper! Just ask your ÖH!

In addition to that, keep in mind that many restaurants and also some supermarkets offer student discounts, just ask!

9. Save food

Did you know that the best before date is not actually an expiration date? Before you throw food away because it says it’s expired, just try it. If they taste and smell normal, you can still consume them without a doubt! In many supermarkets there are sections where food that is close to the best before date is sold for up to 70% of the original price. Just keep your eyes open! Furthermore, in big cities there are often facebook groups or websites where people give away food that they no longer need because they are going on vacation or have simply bought too much! But if you don’t want to come into direct contact with strangers, there is also the option of food-sharing. Sounds funny, but it is super innovative.

10. Save money with the help of apps

Save money, do good and save groceries at the same time – all with the help of a single app? With Too Good to Go it is possible! The app, which is already established in many Austrian cities, offers dishes and groceries at super low prices in cooperation with many restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets.

The whole thing is very simple: Download the app, register, reserve delicious food online, pay and simply pick it up!

From the bakery at the train station to the pizzeria next door to the “Heurigen”, many businesses in Austria are part of this great campaign.
Food waste is a big problem in our society and by shopping surplus food you not only save some money, but also drive real change!

Maybe we could inspire you with our tips. In any case, we wish you a great cooking and enjoy your meal!

Here are more tips to save money: low budget traveling, workouts at home and for your everyday life!

Your STUWO Team!


We are happy to help!