Ah, takeaways – they hold a very special place in every student household. But is it possible to order your favourite food without breaking the bank?
Treating yourself to a takeaway can be the highlight of your week, especially if you’re hungover, busy or just can’t be bothered to cook – we’ve all been there.
But when you’re living off your Student Loan, can your budget really stretch to fast food indulgences? Well, yes it can… if you know how to order the smart way.
We’ve put together these top tips to help you save money while ordering your favourite comfort food.
How to get cheap takeaways
Avoid online takeaway services
Takeaway sites and apps like Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats do have some great perks – they’re super easy to use and you can easily browse all your local takeaways in one place.
Plus, to try and beat the competition, takeaways often run discounts and promotions to stand out from the crowd.
However, they have some downsides too. Just Eat, for example, sneaks in a 50p service charge before you pay that many people don’t notice.
Deliveroo also add on a hefty £2.50 delivery fee, while with Uber Eats it’s as much as £3.50!
Some takeaways even run special discounts for people who don’t order through a third-party site and instead order directly on the takeaway site, as cutting out the middleman saves them money.
Sign up to a cashback site for free takeaways
Ok, so we know we just told you not to use online takeaway sites – but that’s only because they tend to be more expensive that going direct. If there’s a way to get it online and for a low low price, then we haven’t got any beef.
And as it happens, there is a way to get cheap online takeaways – in fact, you could even get it for free.
Cashback sites like Quidco and TopCashback often run offers whereby new members can get £10+ off orders at the likes of Just Eat, Pizza Hut and Domino’s – often with no minimum spend.
We have a guide to understanding cashback sites, and once you’re up to scratch, check to see if Quidco (here) and TopCashback (here) are running any promotions at the moment.
If you play it right, you could get your whole order covered by the cashback!
Go for collection rather than delivery
We know it’s hard to face the brisk cold in winter, but why not chuck on your trainers and take a trip down the road to pick your takeaway up in person, rather than forking out for delivery costs?
It can seem impossible when you’re in your cosy pyjamas, but it will keep costs low and the burst of exercise before you eat will help you burn off those extra calories you’re about to consume. And no one will judge if you turn up in your PJs.
You’ll also be doing your bit for the environment by keeping your carbon footprint low.
Stretch your takeaway further
Paying someone else to make your dinner for you is always going to be more expensive than making it yourself, but you can save costs in the long run by buying in bulk, as takeaways often reward larger orders with a discount or free delivery.
If you end up with more food than you need, using your leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day will make the whole thing way more economical. And is there anything better than cold pizza for breakfast?
Make your own fakeaway instead
Okay, so we realise that part of the attraction of ordering a takeaway is that it requires very little effort on your behalf, but there’s no reason why you can’t make your own.
You’ll save money, and your creations will probably be a lot easier on the arteries!
There’s a whole load of budget-friendly recipes over on our student recipes page, including chicken enchiladas and DIY pizzas (go for pre-made pizza bases if you’re feeling particularly lazy).
We also spoke to a student chef who told us how to recreate your favourite KFC, Nando’s and Wagamama meals at home for just £2 per portion – almost as good as the real thing for a fraction of the price!
You can also pick up this Takeaway Secrets book from Amazon to get all of your favourite fast-food recipes.
Get a job as a delivery driver
Got a few hours spare on an evening? If you’ve got some form of transport to get around, getting a part-time job as a delivery driver can be a great way to earn a bit of extra cash – and you’ll probably get free meals out of it too!
Even if you don’t have a car, companies like Deliveroo and other online delivery companies have started hiring staff to do deliveries by bike. You could earn up to £16 an hour!
Not only will this mean you get lots of free food when money’s tight, but you’ll be able to keep fit and earn few bob in the process!
They might also be willing to pay students to hand out flyers around campus – and often throw in some free food in the process!
Read the flyers!
Keep your eyes open for special offers coming through your letterbox. If you live in a student area, you’ll probably receive masses of takeaway menus every week.
Before you chuck them in the bin, have a quick glance to see if there are any good offers available. Some companies offer a different deal each day, including freebies when you spend over £10.
When placing your order, make sure you ask about deals, and double check the figures if you’re ordering online – they’re not always automatically added.
Also beware that sometimes (rarely, but it does happen) the special offers don’t actually work out cheaper. Always do the maths before placing your order.
Check for student discounts
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: always check whether the takeaway offers a discount or freebies for students!
McDonald’s, for instance, offer a free cheeseburger, mayo chicken or McFlurry when you buy a meal if you show your student card. Just Eat give students 15% off and with an NUS card you can get 25% off Domino’s orders over £25 when ordering online.
The savings might not be huge, but they’re definitely better than paying full whack.
Supermarket ‘takeaway’ options
Many supermarkets now offer their own versions of popular takeaways. You can buy everything packed up in a box, ready to just stick in the microwave or oven when you get home.
The prices of these items are often much less than you’d pay for a real takeaway, but are almost as tasty and more convenient. Whether you prefer Indian, Chinese or Italian, you’ll find a wide range of choices.
Marks and Spencer regularly offers its Dine In For 2 deal that will get you a main course, a side dish, a dessert and a bottle of wine for two people to share, for around £10. Posher than a takeaway and probably cheaper too!
Avoid the drunk takeaway
We know this is way easier said than done, but splurging on a big greasy takeaway at 4am can massively boost the cost of your night out.
Everyone needs to eat when they’ve had a few (doing so is a good way of reducing those pesky hangovers) but you could try making something at home instead – as long as you’re in a fit enough state not to burn the house down!
If you do indulge those post-night out hunger pains, try not to go too crazy and buddy up with friends to share food between you.
If you follow these tips, you could find that a regular takeaway isn’t too taxing on your purse.
Don’t forget that the cheapest takeaways are the ones you make yourself – these fakeaway recipes are just £2 per portion!