The weekly food shop is one of the most important parts of the week. After all, you need to eat. But, if you’re cooking for yourself for the first time, doing a weekly food shop can seem a little daunting. There is so much on offer that it can be difficult to budget properly for enough meals in the week that will leave you feeling full and satisfied for your classes. Fortunately, that is where I come in. This is the ultimate food shopping list for students, partially based on my own weekly shopping list. 

Staples for student cupboards

student food shopping list staples

This first section is for food that forms the base of a meal, which you’ll add to with stuff later in this list. While it may not necessarily be something you buy every week, a loaf of bread is essential. You can make sandwiches for lunch, you could have toast in the morning – it’s very versatile. Similarly, a bag of pasta and/or rice can make a great base option for dinner (and if you make more than you need, you’ve got some lunch for the next day, sorted). I’d also get some sauce to go with the pasta – personally, I’m a pesto kinda gal, but tomato sauce is a good option too. Cereals or porridge can make a great option for a quick breakfast before that 9am seminar. But, when thinking about a food shop, it’s good to start with the basics, those cupboard staples, before you start adding it with protein, fruit and veg and more. 


The ultimate food shopping list for students
Source: Supermarket News

Unless you’re dead into fitness and one of those people committed to tracking protein and necking protein shakes, it can sometimes be overlooked. But (without sounding like a wannabe influencer), protein is really important. It’s full of nutrients that help repair and build body tissues, keep energy levels going and the brain working. So whether you’re planning to hit the books (or Google), or to hit the gym, protein is critical.

Protein is the main part of most meals, which primarily consists of meat & fish (or alternatives, depending on your diet type). Chicken is a very versatile form of protein – you could have it in soup, you could put some in pasta or a curry, among many other things. Additionally, the NHS recommends eating 2 portions of fish a week, 1 being an oily fish. Salmon is a great, albeit a little more expensive, option for an oily fish – it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. I would recommend getting two forms of protein per week, but enough that you could add to multiple meals – so a couple of chicken breasts and a pack of two salmon, for example. 

Fruit and veg

fruit and veg for students

Fruit and veg is another important part of the ultimate food shopping list for students. While most uni students (myself included) struggle to get their five a day, it is important to be eating enough so you’re getting a healthy, balanced diet. Berries are a great option for fruit, as you could have them for breakfast or as a pudding (paired with a little treat every so often) after dinner. If you don’t have as much time in the mornings, a banana can make a quick but healthy breakfast, or a quick snack later in the day. In terms of vegetables, my personal go-to’s are carrots, broccoli and peas. All three are versatile options and can go with many different meal options. 


scrambled eggs for students

Dairy is another important part of your daily diet. They have calcium in them and we all need strong bones, right? Milk (or alternative) is always a useful thing to have in your fridge, especially if you’re a coffee drinker. Eggs can be used in a variety of different meals, from an omelette to a quiche and don’t forget to check out our top, foolproof guide for scrambled eggs! Cheese is another flexible ingredient – you can have a cheese toastie, you could add it to an omelette or put it on top of some pasta. Eggs, cheese and coffee are great for a hangover fry-up, so be sure to stock up on what you need!


food shopping list for students includes treats

Of course, you need to treat yourself every so often, both in terms of having a balanced diet and also just because you need it sometimes (any final years currently in the midst of writing your dissertations, you get me). Crisps, specifically a multipack of crisps, makes a great option, as you could pair them with a sandwich for lunch or have them as a snack, but the multipack means you don’t have too much. Similarly, you could pair something chocolatey with some fruit to have a treat while still having something healthy (my recent discovery – Maltesers and strawberries go very well together).


food condiments student shopping list

Of course, there are some other things that you may need in a weekly shop that don’t fall into one of these categories. Students practically run on coffee, so buying some powder to make at home will save you money rather than buying some from campus. Cooking oil (olive, sunflower or vegetable) is a very useful thing to have in your cupboard as it is useful in almost every type of cooking. And if you need things like ketchup, mayo, salad cream etc., these can be meal-changers!

The ultimate shopping list for students

student food shopping

So, having read all that, here is my ultimate shopping list for students. It will of course depend on your dietary requirements and you may not need everything every week, but this should give you a rough idea. Of course, it’s also good to switch things up so you’re not eating the same thing every day. That can get quite boring.

  • 1 loaf of bread
  • 1 bag of pasta
  • 1 bag of rice
  • Pasta sauce
  • 1 box of cereal
  • Pack of 4 chicken breasts
  • Pack of 2 salmon
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • 1 bottle of milk
  • 1 pack of eggs
  • Cheese
  • Multipack of crisps
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Cooking oil


So, this is the ultimate food shopping list for students. Your shopping list will depend on your preferences and dietary requirements, but this should hopefully give you a base that you can add to however you please. Again, you may not need everything on this list every week, but it makes a good base. 

There are so many options for meals that you can make. Check out 50 of the best student recipes at university.