Eating Out in the UK - Guide for Students

One of the many areas where you may have to make certain cuts when traveling to the UK on a tight budget, is the food that you eat.

Eating Out in the UK - Guide for Students

Eating out at expensive restaurants and extra food treats in your shopping basket can, for many students, be a luxury that they can’t afford. However, just because your are eating on a budget does not mean that you have to suffer in taste. Following our recent series on Accommodation and Health we decided to investigate student food in the UK.

For many international students studying in the UK you will be provided with the option of living in student Halls on campus. Therefore most of you may have to rely on the university Canteen for your meals. Each university is different. Some may provide you with a meal card that discounts from a sum of money that you pay with your accommodation costs at the beginning of each term.

However, most canteens operate as normal on a pay as you go service. It is also important to note that some halls are also self-catering and usually your are offered the choice. The university canteen aims to provide its students with a balanced and nutritious diet at a cheap rate. However, whether students choose to follow that option is at their own discretion!

For those of you who have not chosen on-campus accommodation or do not have that option available to them then self catering is an opportunity to impress your hall/flatmates with your amazing culinary skills, if you have any, as well as to introduce them to the sort of food you have in your own country.

It is also an opportunity for you to learn about cooking skills and experiment with a variety of different dishes. However, it has to be said that many students both international and UK based at some point revert back to the traditional UK student dishes. Here are a few examples

The Great English Breakfast Very much part of the UK culture is the great English breakfast or ‘fry up’ as it most commonly known. Whilst delicious in taste its high fat content makes it an occasional treat for the health conscious and an every day necessity to ‘get them through the day’ for the less concerned.

Traditionally an English ‘fry up’ consists of a fried egg, bacon rashers, sausages, mushrooms, a couple of round of fried bread, cooked tomato and baked beans. Whilst many enjoy this treat at home, true ‘fry up specialists’ will pay a visit to their local café (or ‘greasy spoon’!) to enjoy this English delicacy!

Experimenting with Pasta Pasta tends to be one of the most regularly eaten items of food by UK students. This is probably due to the fact that it is extremely cheap, particularly if you buy it in bulk, and also because it is very simple to prepare. With so many ‘ just stir in’ and ‘just add water’ pasta sauces available that are extremely quick and easy to make an interesting snack or meal, these are ideal fridge fillers for the average student who is always on the go.

They are also great way of cooking for a lot of people ‘on the cheap’ if friends decide to pop round after the union bar has closed! Favourite pasta dishes tend to be a combination of ‘whatever, is left in the cupboard’ and it is not unusual for students to be able to list quite a few combinations that they have discovered in the early hours of the morning. So… whether you may be experimenting or entertaining ‘on the cheap’, pasta is definitely way to go!

Traditional Roast Lunch Arguably one of the most delicious meals in the UK is the traditional Roast Lunch. Often this is referred to by many people in the UK as Sunday Lunch. Traditionally this meal is cooked on the Sunday, which in the UK is usually considered to be the day of rest, and for most of us a time to relax and spend time with friends and family and unwind before the week ahead. This big lunchtime meal is very much a reflection of this cultural attitude to Sundays traditionally allowing us to spend more time over the meal to talk with close ones and usually to help us to relax into the evening contemplating the next busy week ahead.

Most students who are based in the UK will admit that one of the home comforts that they miss at university is “home cooked food” and in particular “Sunday lunch!” You will find many of them compensating by going to the local pub and enjoying the Carvery and Roast Lunch available there. A traditional Sunday Roast consists of Roast Beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, a selection of vegetables and plenty of gravy!

Snacks – ‘on the go!’ Even if you are eating your main meals at the canteen you may feel the need after those late night “study sessions” to fix yourself a small snack. Most halls of residence will have an area where you can fix yourself something to eat and have a hot drink. Always check with your housing officer if these facilities are available even if the halls are not self-catering.

The traditional late night snacks can consist of anything from toast to cheese/beans on toast to a jacket potato with fillings. The advances of microwave meals or ‘just add hot water’/ on the go snacks are also a popular choice with students.

Take-Away and Fast food. Ironically English students enjoy the great delights of other countries cuisine throughout the UK on a regular basis. For the International Student this will usually mean that there is always somewhere to go to enjoy some home comforts in the form of food.

These are usually combined with part of an evening out. Fast food (Burgers, Kebabs, etc) and Take Away food (Chinese food/Indian) is so readily eaten by people through the country that they have become a natural part of the ‘English cuisine.’ In a recent survey with young people throughout the UK, Curry was voted one of the most widely eaten dishes on a regular basis.

Not only is this a reflection of the cosmopolitan and multi-cultural make-up of the UK, it is also a reflection of the fast pace of life of young people in Britain where ‘work hard - play hard’ seems to be a way of life!

Whilst these are just a few examples of what students eat in the UK, when you come to study in this country it is entirely at your own discretion exactly what food you choose to consume. The local supermarkets usually provide quality food from around the world. Or if your budget is a little tight then why not try your local student shop.

These usually sell a wide variety of food items at a discounted rate. If you have a strict diet due to medical, religious or personal reasons then you may be advised to choose to live in a self-catering halls or rented accommodation so that you can prepare your own food. However, if this does not appeal then speak to your International Officer about this or any other major concerns - they’d be happy to help!


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