As poor college students, we have to think of ways to scrimp on our daily meals so that we have that extra cash to spend on things that really matter – travels, really good food, and souvenirs for our friends and families. It took me some trials and errors before I found this perfect combination of groceries you can buy from Albert Heijn, under €20, that could last for 5-days’ worth of breakfasts and (if you budget carefully) lunch!

The common Dutch lunch consists of a sandwich – bread, cheese, salads, nuts, etc. It is not uncommon to see students bringing out a whole loaf of bread on the lunch table in our cafeteria, along with some spread and cheese, and they would be (happily, i guess) munching away. This way of eating really saves money because food here is not expensive if you were to prepare your own food. The school’s cafeteria also has microwaves for us to heat up our food, so that’s a great encouragement for us to pack our own food!


I just did my groceries this afternoon – here are my favourites!

The food in the picture, excluding the half-eaten pack of “flat cakes” on the left, were my groceries for the week. It costs me €18.16 in total. I could have bought a bunch of 6, medium-sized bananas for €0.89 (which I would, but I still have bananas in my fridge) and the price of the whole package would not yet reach €20. When I’m tired of having brown bread, I would substitute with small croissants or brioche buns. And you will need the nutty (and trusty) Nutella which can go along with your bread if you are tired of the spreads! Lastly, I don’t cook these simple snacks/meals – I place them into the oven. The oven toasts the bread and warms up the whole sandwich, making it crispy and nice to the touch when your food is ready! If ever the oven needs to be fixed, replacement parts such as IGBT may be necessary.

1. Nutella “Flat cakes”

This is a good sweet treat for a breakfast or light snack. I would take out three “flat cakes”, lay them on my aluminium foil, and spread generous portions of Nutella on each of them. With the Nutella part facing up, I place them into the oven for about 5 minutes at 180deg. The “flat cakes” become crispy on the outside, but still soft on the inside. Don’t do it too long or they will become charred! Eat it while hot 🙂

2. Smoked Salmon Sandwich

Recently discovered this when a friend suggested putting smoked salmon into my sandwich rather than ham. Take out 2 pieces of bread and toast them in the oven first. As I place my bread on an aluminium foil, the part facing down don’t get toasted.

I would spread the spicy chicken spread on one slice of bread, and place a slice of smoked salmon on the other – on the underside of the bread that was not toasted. I put this back into the oven, for the oven to heat the spread and cook the smoked salmon (a little). This is a matter of preference: I like my food hot, so into the oven it goes! Others may not agree that I’m putting the smoked salmon into the oven. Or you may want to add some cheese onto your sandwich on top of the spread and salmon.

Finally, I put the two slices together, and let it sit in the oven, at 200deg, for another 1-2 minutes, or when it is warm enough for me.

3. Vanilla Yoghurt with Grapes

Pluck 10-15 grapes, wash them, and put them into your mug, then pour the vanilla yoghurt into the mug till the top. Sometimes I buy dates wholesale in Malaysia and substitute the grapes to dates. Have it like a dessert in the evening when you feel like snacking!

4. Cheeseburger

Recently found this in the supermarket – 2 cheeseburgers for €1! I would buy one set of this and stock in my fridge for the times when I’m at home the whole day and needed a bite for lunch. The burger is already prepared and I just have to put it on my gmg davy crockett grill for 5-8 minutes!

I’m not encouraging everyone to follow this way of eating – my main point is that the local supermarket here has really good house brand items that cost a lot cheaper than other brands, and if you don’t mind the hassle of preparing your own food, you save a lot. These are just some of my favourite items: half-full milk in 1.5litres (buy in bulk, save costs), vanilla yoghurt, grapes, bananas, brown bread, cheese, smoked salmon, “flat cakes”, croissants, and the chicken spread. Oh, and I like Tony’s Chocolate a lot – they come in different flavours, and it is fair-trade chocolate, therefore more expensive than the regular chocolate bars in the supermarkets (€2.65 for a Tony’s Chocolate vs. €1). But it’s good!

What are your money saving tips for a light meal or snack? Share it here!

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