Eating healthily on a budget: 5 tips for students

eating-healthily

After spending all your student loan on those unnecessary Uber trips, overpriced drinks in the club and shameless online shopping purchases, you’ve found yourself with dwindling funds in the bank and no other choice but to solely survive on the toast and plain pasta you have lying around in the cupboard. We’ve all been there at some point, but the fact is that eating poorly at uni can have negative impacts on your health, mood, and wellbeing in general. This article will provide you with 5 top tips that will enable you to eat healthily on a student budget (and the best part is you don’t need to be Jamie Oliver to do it!)

1. Avoid fast food deliveries

It is almost certain that in fresher’s week you will be bombarded with flyer after flyer of fast food offers, all claiming that they can offer amazingly cheap deals to students. Companies such as Dominoes and Deliveroo thrive off students who don’t know how (or can’t be bothered) to cook after a busy day at uni. However, frequently buying food from these fast food chains is not only bad for your health, but will also bite a huge chunk out of your weekly budget. Let’s put it this way; if you ordered a medium pepperoni pizza from Dominoes it would come to a total of £15.99. That’s equivalent to a whole chicken, a pack of minced meat, 12 eggs, a pot of soup, a loaf of multigrain bread, a bag of quinoa, a litre of milk, a bag of cous cous, 6 apples, 6 tangerines… oh, and a deep pan pepperoni pizza from Aldi. Once you start comparing these ‘amazing’ student deals to the price of food in supermarkets they suddenly start to sound less ‘amazing’.

2. Compare different supermarkets

Whilst at university, the supermarket should be your best friend. Having said that, not all supermarkets are made equal and some may be much pricier than others. Safe bets for your weekly shop would be places such as Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons that pride themselves at balancing good quality with affordable prices. Supermarkets to steer clear of may include Waitrose and M&S (save those for grownups with actual incomes!). If it just so happens that the nearest cheap supermarket is a 7-hour trek up a snowy mountain, through the dark woods and across the blistering desert then consider doing an online grocery shop. They’re usually very useful as you:
– Won’t be tempted by all the chocolate near the till
– Can do a shared order with your flatmates, making delivery costs next to nothing!

3. Flat dinners for the win

Flat dinners usually work extremely well. Not only do they get everyone involved and having fun cooking together, but it also works out as much cheaper when the cost of ingredients is split between everyone. For example, a big ol’ chicken curry shared between 6 people will easily come to less than £2 each! Making a meal from scratch will be much healthier than eating a ready meal or going out to a restaurant as you know everything that goes in, meaning it won’t contain any nasty additives or hidden calories (yay!). Some examples of healthy crowd-pleasing group meals that are bound to get everyone licking their lips include fajitas, stir fry, Thai curry, pasta bake, one pan rice and soup.

4. Be the meal prep master

So, you’re making a pasta vegetable dish for dinner and you measure out the perfect amount for one portion because you’re the only one eating it tonight. The next day lunch time rolls around and you head to the shop to buy your daily meal deal. Eating habits like this are extremely common but you could save £21 a week by bringing in leftovers instead! Making double the amount of dinner won’t cost much more and requires less effort than buying lunch every day. Furthermore, if you have food prepared in advance, then you are less likely to pick up something unhealthy from the shop. So, consider investing in plastic food containers and start nailing your lunch game whilst saving money at the same time.

5. Use social media to your advantage

One thing that proves to be extremely helpful and accessible to students eating healthy on a budget is social media. Facebook contains many pages dedicated to cheap, healthy recipes for students –  some examples include ‘Mob Kitchen’ (a page containing recipes that ‘feed 4 for under a tenner’), ‘The Body Coach’ and ‘Buzzfeed Health’. Instagram is another useful source for cheap, healthy meal inspiration – I’d recommend ‘onepoundmeals’, ‘buzzfeedtastyveg’. Pinterest can also provide inspiration for healthy meals as you can search for meals including whatever ingredients you have lying around, this is a great way of saving money as less food goes to waste. Filling your newsfeeds and social media with these kinds of pages will hopefully motivate you to put that little bit of extra effort in and make nutritious, affordable meals, while also realising that cooking can be satisfying and enjoyable!

Written by - Marnie W.

Studying Zoology at Leeds University