Only got $20 in my pocket

Posted at: 30 Nov 2018 | Student Affairs

What’s better than having a nice dinner with friends? Doing just that while saving money! Here are a few tips and tricks to teach you how to eat well on a budget!

American Thanksgiving dinner pot luck (by Lynsey Becker)

Constantly going out for meals is a fun activity with friends, but it gets expensive fast. Living as an exchange student means trying to enjoy Amsterdam as much as possible, while still being able to budget your money. What’s the best way to enjoy yourself without having to worry about your spending? I have a few tips and tricks for you to hopefully make this easier!

1. Choose your grocery store wisely

One of the most well-known grocery stores in the Netherlands is called “Albert Heijn”. You will see it all over Amsterdam, and is known for good quality products. Although this may be more convenient, it may not be the cheapest option! If you’re living a bit outside of the center, you may have the possibility of shopping at the discount grocery store “Lidl”. Lidl also has good quality products, but does not have as big of a variety to choose from compared to Albert Heijn. One option to save money is to do your most basic groceries (apples, eggs, milk) at Lidl, and get whatever you are missing at another grocery store!

2. Buy in bulk

Of course, this doesn’t apply to perishable foods like milk or bread, but often times, buying a big bottle of oil will be cheaper than buying 3 small ones. Try and scope out those deals to help you save a few euros here and there, trust me, it adds up!

3. Go shopping with a friend

A big loaf of bread or a pack of steaks may be too much for you to eat on your own before the expiry date, so finding a grocery buddy can really help. Splitting the food and the cost can help avoid food waste and definitely reduce your spending. Another way to do this is each friend buys a large portion of a different product, such as a bottle of ketchup, container of salt, etc. and then share with each other when needed!

4. Have group dinners

Another option that helps keep the fun of being with friends while also saving money, is having group dinners, where each time, one person is in charge of cooking. This means that the designated chef has to buy the food and prepare it, and feed the group. If you are in a group of 4 people, you can easily buy enough food to make a lovely pasta dinner for under 10 euros (pros of buying in bulk). This also means that everyone else will take a turn being in charge, and you will get 3 free meals out of it before it being your turn again.

5. Pot luck dinners

A pot luck is a great way to eat a lot of food for a very little price. The idea is that you get a nice big group of friends together, where everyone brings either an appetizer, meal, side, or desert, and you all share. I did this when celebrating American Thanksgiving with my friends, and although all I brought was mashed potatoes and apple pie, I ate so much food that I could hardly make it to desert (I made it eventually, don’t worry!). My contribution only costed me around 6 euros, yet with the big group of people, we had way too much food, and had left overs for a week!

There are plenty of other ways to eat while saving money, and you’ll quickly get used to it. Just try and be creative and eat home cooked meals with friends. This is a sure way to save money, while still eating well and having a lot of fun!

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