In this article our student writer, Vicky Veselichka, gives us some of her top tips for eating healthy on a student budget. For more student tips, check out her YouTube channel here.
University is a time when a lot of us have to learn how to cook for ourselves for the first time. For many of my friends, this meant that they would eat nothing but Pot Noodles or toast for 8 weeks straight! However, I quickly learnt some tricks to help me eat healthy without breaking the bank.
Healthy Eating Starts with Shopping
When I used to shop for ingredients with my parents, we always bought things in bulk, as this is generally the cheapest way to do things. However, when I tried to do this at uni I just ended up throwing away a lot of food that I didn’t get round to eating. It took me a few weeks to realise that a cost-effective and healthy way to shop for fresh produce was to do it just before you cook. If you only buy the fresh ingredients you need for your meal, you won’t end up with useless extra food you need to throw away. This works best with fresh products, fresh herbs, fruits, veg, bread and dairy. For pasta, flour, spices and rice I would still recommend buying bigger packets, as it takes much longer for this food to go off. If you want to save even more money, you can go halves with a friend over the ridiculously big packets of pasta and rice! It will last you ages and works out to only pennies per meal.
Snacks can be Healthy Too
This technique does NOT apply to snacks! When you shop only for the stuff that you need for a recipe, this can mean that you don’t have snacks on hand when you’re feeling peckish. I always make sure that I have a packet of crisps, some biscuits, nuts and some fruit around. I usually only buy one or two fruits at a time to ensure that I eat them. My current favourites are tangerines and persimmons (me and my boyfriend discovered these by accident and have been obsessed ever since). Every store has good deals on fruit so I just pick whatever fruit I know I like. Snacks are a great way to stay healthy, as you won’t feel starving and overeat during your next big meal. Low calorie snacks such as fruit or nuts are a fantastic alternative to chocolate, and they are generally a similar price in the supermarkets!
Healthy Eating Through Healthy Cooking
So now we know how to shop for food, but how do we cook it? Lots of my friends attempt some pretty difficult dishes, and usually fail spectacularly! Personally, I prefer simple meals. Noodles are always a good option for keeping healthy! Not the type you get in a plastic cup and pour boiling water into, I am talking about a stir-fry! They don’t take any longer than twenty minutes and work out to less than £3. All you need is the stir-fry vegetable pack, noodles (one packet should last you at least four meals) and the sauce, I love hoisin sauce. If you would like some protein add chicken or, if you’re vegetarian like me, try adding tofu! This is extremely healthy (400-500 calories per meal), and fills you up every time. One portion of stir-fry usually lasts me about two meals, so you might want to go halves with a friend or otherwise you have lunch for tomorrow already made!
There are plenty of easy and cheap student recipes out there that are both healthy and delcious. If you struggle to follow recipes, try cooking with a friend who has a bit more experience, or even watch a YouTube video. Sometimes having that visual rather than just words on a page makes all the difference!
Let the take away be: shop only for what you need/ you know you’ll eat, buy the things that will last in bulk, buy fresh produce as and when you need them, and don’t be tempted by ready meals or takeaways; they’re both expensive and pretty bad for you.
Thanks to Vicky Veselichka for her contribution. Check out her other article here: How to decorate your uni room on a budget.