Experiment – Groceries on a Uni student budget

by | Jun 29, 2020 | 0 comments

As usual I found myself chatting ‘life’ with my kids. We were in the height of the Corona life and all four children were crisis-home-schooling. My eldest was 2 months off turning 18 (she turned 18 last week!), she is rather independent and has always been ‘grown up’ in this way. She has mentioned for a while now that she is really keen to start Uni next year and to move out of home (this might sound offensive to a Mum I know, but I do know it is not to run away from us (phew!) and as parents we are there to support her as best we know how with her decisions).

We were chatting costs of life when you are at Uni and living out of home. Rent. Utilities. Car. Petrol. Food. Coffee. – the list goes on!

Most things we agreed on or they were pretty black and white eg car rego. Food caused a much bigger conversation though. As a foodie myself who enjoys hearty yet nourishing food, I have raised similar foodies too, so it was interesting. Don’t get me wrong. My children would be happy with a certain amount of ‘packet’ food but not on a regular basis.

I decided to put a question out on my Instagram story to hear from single people living in this situation and find out how much they spent on food each week. The lowest answer was $40. The highest was $150. The rest, quite a large number of people commenting, was $60-$80 and interestingly enough, over half of these people also commented that they also spend at least that in alcohol each week!

So we decided it would be a fun experiment to see what it would be like to live on a food budget of $70 per week for a single person. Miss 18 and Miss (almost) 16 were super excited to give this experiment a go. I offered them $70 each for one week PLUS some ‘pantry staples’ (milk and flour etc).

I gave them a few days to have a think about what they might buy, cook and eat before heading to the shops. A trolley each and a phone calculator each, I stood back and observed and it was incredibly interesting.


Miss 18 was very decisive; her trolley had a decent amount in it considering how much money she had and it was well balanced and quite realistic with a combination of ‘easy to prepare’ food and actual ‘food to cook’. At the end she had $7 left so spent that on a few more ‘snacks’ (dark chocolate and popcorn) as she was confident her meals were well catered for.

Miss (almost) 16 was not as decisive. This is 100% a reflection on their personalities also. Whereas Miss 18 wrote her shopping list herself, I offered Miss (almost) 16 some ideas around ‘balance’ (she is pescatarian and going through a stage of learning what food is right for her body and mind). I came to realise quickly that Miss (almost) 16 has ‘Champagne taste on a Beer budget’ with the first things on her list being Almond Butter, Medjool Dates, Tamari Soy sauce, Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds and Goji Berries! After some discussion with her and just a little help, her list was written too. At the end of her shop she had $15 left and she chose to spend this at the local Bulk-food store on smaller amounts of chia seeds etc rather than larger, more expensive, packets at the supermarket. Her trolley load was far smaller and I was considerably healthy, although depending on your opinion, not necessarily balanced (no meat, I ‘made’ her buy dairy as she didn’t want to etc).

Over the next week I will share with you their journeys individually. What ‘basics’ I gave them. What they bought. What they learnt etc.

I hope you enjoy this!

Take Care of You,

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