Foodie TV programmes such as Come Dine With Me are inspiring students to prepare meals for each other and abandon eat-alone snacks, according to new research published today (Monday 23 September).
A study carried out by National Union of Students (NUS), in conjunction with The Co-operative Food, has challenged the stereotype that students live on unhealthy fast foods and takeaways.
In fact there is much more planning involved as they enjoy cooking tasty and healthy meals for themselves and for others.
The research shows that the vast majority of students (83%) enjoy preparing food, but 57% say cooking for one gets really boring. More than half (57%) plan at least two days’ meals in advance to ensure they manage their limited budget whilst still enjoying nutritious food.
Students’ love of cooking is consistent across all ages and genders, and 83% say they seek inspiration for new, quick and easy meal ideas.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the limited student budget. On average students spend around £49 a week on groceries and more than half (59%) say price is the number one factor when choosing what to eat.
However, just over half (51% per cent) cite taste, 38% say they look for healthier food and a third (33%) say it’s important that the meal is quick and easy to prepare.
Students have a common repertoire of meals, with 53% saying fresh meat/fish was their favourite meal, followed jointly by stir fry and pasta & tomato-based sauce (31% each), curry (30%) and salad (26%). Getting their five-a-day is also important for students.
After milk (84%) and bread (81%), fresh fruit is the third most common food purchased - jointly with pasta (79% each), and followed by fresh vegetables (75%).
As well as eating together, shopping is also becoming a communal activity with 42% per cent of students saying that they shop with others. Students on average shop twice a week, but males are twice as likely as females to shop more than five times a week.
The research coincides with a new partnership that will see students with an NUS extra card* receive a 10 per cent discount on their groceries, at more than 3,600 participating Co-operative food stores across the UK**.
As the first supermarket to offer such a deal for students, the new partnership is available to almost 600,000 students with an NUS extra card, who will receive a discount at Co-operative food stores from today (23 September).
Raechel Mattey, NUS Vice President said:
“NUS is passionate about representing the realities of students’ lives and the cost of living is a huge factor in this. The research shows that contrary to popular belief, students enjoy cooking, care about nutrition, and try to balance both within their budgets. We are delighted our discount will help them achieve this.”
CJ Antal-Smith, Head of Commercial – Grocery at The Co-operative Food, said:
“This research busts the myth that students dine alone and give little thought to the food they eat. Indeed, they say TV programmes like Come Dine With Me offer them inspiration as to what to cook for themselves and their housemates. However, while many enjoy preparing food, they are on a restricted budget and so getting good value is very important to them.
“As a community-based retailer, with a store in every UK postal area, The Co-operative is ideal for students picking up food on their way to and from lectures.”
The research by NUS, in conjunction with The Co-operative Food, surveyed1209 students from 16-29 August 2013.
NUS Extra is available to all students aged over 16 years, including distance learners and vocational students. It costs just £12 for a full 12 months of savings from the date of purchase.
**Exclusions for the discount, available at the Co-operative societies below, apply: Baby milk, stamps, saving schemes, National Lottery & Health Lottery purchases, gift vouchers, phone cards, continuity programmes, in-store concessions, PayPoint, cigarettes & tobacco, newspaper delivery and electrical goods.
The Co-operative Food