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Eating on a student-friendly budget in the Netherlands

As a student, it can be hard to find time between studying and making a quick and affordable meal. Previously in America, I relied on the dining hall of my university for all my meals. However, as dining halls are not as common here in the Netherlands, I discovered new eating habits. Here are a few suggestions of how to eat on a student-friendly budget in the Netherlands.

Splitting the cost with your friends

One of the best ways to eat affordably as a student is to shop and cook together with others. Not only does this split the costs of your meals, it also makes cooking a lot more enjoyable. Cooking with your friends can even become a way to socialize and spend time together. My sister, who is in her third year at the Erasmus University College, explained how integral meal times had been to her experience. She stayed in her first year at The Student Hotel, where she shared a kitchen with ten other people. Every evening after classes, she would come home and cook with her various neighbors. By cooking together every day, she quickly got closer to her floor mates. In her second year, she moved into an apartment with her friends, and continued to make dinner a communal event. Not only did this method make cooking more enjoyable, it also lowered the costs of her spending.

Grocery shopping

Once you have found your cooking buddies, you will need to locate the perfect grocery option for you. In the Netherlands, there are many shopping alternatives. One option is to go to your local outdoor market. At these markets, you can find a wide variety of fresh produce and Dutch specialties. These markets tend to offer the most affordable deals. In fact, I have often purchased an entire bag of avocados for only a Euro! Be advised, however, that the produce is best when consumed within a few days!
Along with the markets, you can also purchase fresh produce in your local grocery stores. In the Netherlands, the most popular store is Albert Heijn, where you can find the best quality and diverse selection of food items. It is however, on the pricier side and students tend to prefer different stores such as Jumbo and Dirk van den Broek. If you do choose to go to Jumbo, make sure to try their fresh croissants!
Fun fact: at Jumbo, you can get your groceries for free on a busy day depending on what place you are in line at the cashier!

Balancing your grocery budget with friends

When you go grocery shopping with your friends, it is helpful to use a system that will manage your communal spending. In the Netherlands, a popular mobile application is Wie Betaalt Wat. This app helps users balance out payments in their friend group. Through the app, you can avoid the hassle of splitting bills whenever you go grocery shopping. Wie Betaalt Wat can make it easier for you to shop and eat with others.

Eating out affordably

Apart from cooking at home, there are of course ways for you to dine out on a student-budget. Especially after a long night of clubbing, you might be in search of a few affordable snacks. In America, grabbing pizza after the bars was our habitual routine. Here in the Netherlands students like to go to the nearest Doner Kebab shop. Personally, I really like the kebabs at Has. Students also enjoy grabbing fries and mayo at their local snack bar. These are all wallet-friendly options and a perfect end to your evening.

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