Healthy Eating On a Student Budget
“Healthy eating” and “student budget” – can these two even go together? You’d be surprised but it is possible to eat delicious wholemeal foods on a very tight budget. Follow our tips below to get started.
1. Plan your meals & look for sales
Checking weekly grocery offers should be your next habit – take a quick glance at what your nearest store has for sale and this can help you plan your meals for the week ahead. Also, if there’s a sale for frozen berries or veggies – make sure to stock up on those. You can easily store them in the freezer and use whenever you need a quick healthy meal. One of the biggest excuses students have is “no time to cook”. Recent study showed that 1/10 of students don’t cook their own meals and spend on average £925 on takeaways. Well, it may be difficult for some students to free up some time and cook meals. Here’s a pro-tip – dedicate your Sundays to prepare a few meals in advance. This is a good way to start your week right.
2. Buy whole foods
We don’t mean to go and do your weekly shopping at Wholefoods every week. There’s no need to spend your budget on organic foods when there are plenty of healthy alternatives. For example, rice, beans, lentils, oats at your local grocery store are much cheaper than processed cereal (if you count per serving). In fact, these grains are often so filling they can even be served as a meal on their own. As an idea for dinner, you can easily prepare a hearty, nutritious, protein packed quinoa and veggie stir-fry.
3. Bigger is not always better
We’re talking about junk food here. McDonald’s double cheeseburger with fries and coke – sounds like a proper big meal at a cheap price. However, its nutritional value is equal to zero. Don’t fall into “good caloric deals” at the shop, learn to look at the a price per nutrient. What do we mean by “good caloric” deals? That’s all nutrient deficient foods like white bread – we don’t need that in our shopping basket. Our aim is to buy foods that are high in calories AND nutritional value – spinach, broccoli, eggs, fruit. However, if you are a big eater, consider including healthy fats and protein in your diet to make you feel fuller longer. Example foods are oats, avocados, sweet potatoes, nuts & eggs. It’s definitely worth the money!
4. Buy cupboard staples
We’ve already mentioned some examples of nutritious foods and will mention them again. It’s important to stock up on basics – they are not ridiculously expensive and can be incorporated in any meal.
- Frozen vegetables – most versatile food you can think of. You can steam them, fry them, prepare stews, stir-frys, soups or serve as a side dish.
- Eggs – a good option for any time of the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner – make an omelette, frittata, fry them and put on toast, hard boil them and make a salad, the list goes on…
- Oatmeal – again, another versatile food option. You can easily prepare home-made granola, include it in your smoothies or grind them to turn into oat flour for pancakes.
- Canned beans – that’s a one good staple food to have in your cupboard: canned chickpeas, kidney beans, white beans, green peas, lentils etc. These can be incorporated into omelettes, salads, sauces or soups.
- Nuts and seeds – always handy to sprinkle on a salad or have as a snack
- Canned tuna – whenever you’re in a rush, there’s nothing easier than making a tuna salad – just throw salad, cucumber, corn and tuna in a bowl, add some spices and mix everything together.
- Rice & other grains – we mean pasta, quinoa, brown rice and other nutritious grains. These are very filling and super easy to prepare.
5. Buy in bulk
There are many inexpensive foods that are available in large quantities (which also last longer): all kinds of rice, beans, oats, dried fruits. To make them last longer, keep it in airtight containers.
6. Use coupons
If you have a student card, look for discounts and deals – for example, Sainsbury’s offer £18 off your first order. Even if you don’t have a student card, it’s always worth to sign up for newsletters or get Sainsbury, Tesco, Iceland or Waitrose card whenever you go shopping – you’ll get special discounts or/and collect points for your next purchase.
7. Cook together
Preparing food together with your roommates can save you some extra money (and time). If they are as health-conscious as you are, it’s a win-win situation; besides, cooking together is a good time to catch up with your roommates and discuss what’s going on at uni. Another practical idea is to add up resources with your roommates, make a shopping list and buy staple foods together in bulk. This option is only going to work if you’re close with your roommate and know their eating habits, so you’d better find one that can also be your cooking buddy – see our 7 tips to find an ideal roommate.
With a few small changes and a correct strategy, eating healthy on a student budget is easy. And you don’t have to be glued to the stove and spend ages to prepare a delicious and nutrient-dense food. Give it a try and see if it makes any changes in your finance and eating habits. Saving money is a priority for every student, that’s why we always here to share our best advice not only on student life but also on student accommodation. If you are looking for a student room close to your university, make sure to check out Best Student Halls – you are guaranteed to find something classy and affordable.