Cost of Living: Food and Drink

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SU services, resources and tips

Community Fridge

We've launched a Community Fridge which is based at The Hubs, where we gather surplus food from businesses around the city to give away to students, for free! We're generally open 2pm-6pm Monday to Friday, but keep an eye out on our social media for exact opening times each week.

We've partnered with Sheffield Hallam University and other businesses across the Sheffield to tackle hunger across the City. Check out our guide to Thrifty Living: Food and Drink Across Campus.

Meal planning

With the rising cost of the weekly food shop, preparing meals in advance can be a vital tool for saving money. We've compiled a handy guide on How to Meal Prep Like a Pro.

Creating a weekly meal plan, and making a shopping list and sticking to it, can help you stay on track with your spending when it comes to the weekly food shop. Knowing what you're going to be eating and when can help ensure you get the most for your money, and you can bulk-buy some items whilst avoiding food waste.

However, a weekly food shop can be daunting and it seems like a lot of money to pay out all in one go, but Sheffield has lots of great shops that are often open late, so it can be as cheap to buy food as and when you need it. Keep an eye out for 'yellow stickers' (food items that are reduced at the end of the day) which will be a fraction of the price and can often be frozen to use another time. Different supermarkets reduce their food at different times so a bit of trial and error will work wonders!

Microwaves and hot water points

There's nothing like a hot meal and hot drinks to get you through a day of studying. That's why we've created maps identifying the microwave and hot water tap locations across our campuses.

Microwave and hot water point map - City Campus

Microwave and hot water point map - Collegiate Campus

SHU services and resources

Hallam Eat App

Hallam Catering have launched their Hallam Eat app (available on Android and iOS). For every 5 hot meal boxes, or 7 hot drinks, you'll get another one for free, just by scanning the loyalty feature on the app.

At Hallam Central (Level 6 Owen) and The Granary (Heart of the Campus), you can get a medium box from their hot counter for £2.50 or a large box for £4. The menu changes every day and you can fill it right to the top with extras like salad, potatoes and nachos.

Hallam Cafes also do meal deals for £3.90 including any sandwich, crisps (or flapjack, brownie or fruit) and any drink, or £4.90 to include a hot panini. You can get the most for your money by choosing a hot drink, which would usually be up to £3 on its own!

Between 08:30 and 11:30, you get porridge or cereal for free when buying any hot drink at Hallam Central (Level 6 Owen) and The Granary (Heart of the Campus). Their cheapest drink drinks are tea at £1.50 or Americano at £1.70. You can make this even cheaper by taking your own reusable cup to get 40p off!

Library cook books

Hallam Library have a curated reading lists of cook books and it includes a range of resources like this including cooking when on a budget or how to cook if you have never cooked before.

Emergency vouchers

If you've found yourself in immediate financial crisis and are struggling to afford food, SHU can provide Emergency Vouchers of £30 to help. You have to provide a supporting bank statement when requesting a voucher and, if successful, vouchers can be spent at any Tesco store.

Hallam Hardship Fund

Similarly, the Hallam Hardship Fund can provide support for home students who are experiencing unexpected financial difficulty. You'll need to fill in the application form and, if successful, you will be given either financial or non-financial support.

If you're an international student and experiencing unexpected financial difficulty, you can apply for the International Emergency Fund which may provide either a loan or a grant to support you.

External services and products

IKEA have just launched 'Swe-dish Fridays', where IKEA Family members can get 50% off selected meals all day on Fridays until 30th August 2024. Discounted meals include small cooked breakfast or penne pasta and tomato sauce for £1.35, 8 piece meatballs meal for £2.45, and a Double Dog with fries and a soft drink for £2.95 just to name a few. IKEA Family cards are free and anyone can get one via the IKEA Website.

Did you know that many fast food places offer freebies when you download their app? It's an incentive to get people engaged with their brand, but there are some great items to be had. For example, Chopstix are currently offering 5 free spring rolls, Dunkin' and Greggs are giving away a free hot drink!

It's also worth checking out what loyalty schemes retailers have, with some giving freebies in return for your continued custom. Examples are Costa, offering your 5th drink for free (if you've been using your own reusable cup), McDonalds give 100 points for every pound spent (unlocking reward items at 1500 points), and Taco Bell give you 10 points for every pound spent (unlocking reward items at 200 points). Keep in mind though that you do have to spend money to get these rewards, so be careful not to spend more than you usually would just to get a 'free' item.

Some pubs and clubs have student discount cards that you can buy for a small fee in return for a continued student discount. True North have the Pledge Card for £4 offering 20% discount in four of their venues, and Crafted Social (Cavendish & The Graduate) offer 20% off food and 10% off drinks for signing up to their UniCrew for free!

Lots of retailers also offer free gifts on your birthday when you have their app or are part of their loyalty club. True North (the brewery that own Common Room, Forum, Old Grindstone, and more) will give you a free £5 for your birthday, Krispy Kreme a free donut, and Hotel Chocolat a surprise gift!

The Too Good to Go app connects members of the community with local businesses who have surplus food at the end of the day. 'Magic bags' (a mystery allocation of food/drink) are reserved for a fraction of the usual price and then collected at a set time. It can be hit and miss if you're a picky eater, but you can get an amazing deal and help to reduce food waste!

Eat Smart Sheffield have created a guide to cooking for your family on a budget. Feed Your Family for Less has lots of quick and easy meals that can be made relatively cheaply and give a lot of variety for different tastes.

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk through the Healthy Start scheme.

Food Works Sheffield is a community-run project that upcycles quality surplus and locally grown ingredients into delicious food and drink in their very own kitchen. They then provide these nutritious, delicious meals at an affordable price at their locations in Sharrow, Upperthorpe and Handsworth, as well as partner hubs throughout the City. Find your nearest hub.

Olio is an app where users can list unwanted food items and connect with people who can make use of them. Some businesses also use Olio so whilst it's sometimes sparse, you could end up picking up some good food for free. Similarly you could list any food items you won't use to help minimise food waste.

If you're struggling to afford to buy food, VAR have created a Food Provision Map which signposts to where you can access free food, including the City's foodbanks. They are located throughout the city, with the closest locations being:

  • S6 Foodbank: 29 min walk/10 min drive from City Campus | 35 min walk/9 min drive from Collegiate
  • Burngreave Food bank: 22 min walk/8 min drive from City Campus | 43 min walk/13 min drive from Collegiate

If you're in a position where you're unable to pay for food, you should also contact your Personal Tutor or the SHU Emergency Funding team.

MoneySavingExpert also have a wealth of information and tricks for getting cheap or free food and drink. Their website is constantly being updated so it's worth checking regularly.

Information on this page out of date or something else wrong? Let us know by emailing