Written by Victoria
MSc Nutrition & Behavious
The festivities are now over and the student loan has finally dropped but how can we combine trying to eat healthier whilst budgeting for the entire semester?
Here are some handy tips:
Check for supermarket reductions
It’s not always fresh produce that has a short shelf life which can be found reduced but sometimes dented tins or multipacks missing one packet/can! Get to know what time your favourite supermarkets mark down the produce for the day (most action this after 5pm). However, I’d recommend avoiding supermarket deals on products with a short shelf life unless you know you’ll consume it all in time. Try the local butchers and fishmongers for end of day reductions too.
Whether you’re buying in bulk for you and your flatmates or other friends, it’s a great idea to cash in on bulk savings. There are loads of online shops that offer discounts for buying multiple items. Some of my favourites are nuts and oats for making my granola and snack bars, dried lentils and chickpeas, herbs and spices etc.
Make a shopping list and plan meals
It may not be the most exciting part of being a student, but planning your daily meals, writing a shopping list and sticking to it is one of the sure-fire ways to eat healthy and stick to your budget.
Offer to cook for flatmates
If you can cook and your flatmates are always looking over your shoulder for the leftovers, why not suggest that once or twice a week you’ll cook their evening meals for them if they all chip in and provide the ingredients.
Host a food club
Look at the BU clubs and societies. There are cultural societies which could be a gold mine for swapping culinary flavours from across the globe, food clubs such as the baking society and sporting clubs that like to have pasta parties the night before a big game, or even create your own society where there’s a different host each week!
I make up lots of salads including: chickpea salad, beetroot, lentil and feta salad, Greek beans, couscous salad and so much more. These last me the week and can either be used as a lunch base or as a side for my evening meal. I also make my own nutty bars which means I’m also less likely to snack on unhealthy food.
Leftovers for lunch
In addition to batch cooking I also try to stretch my evening meals into the next day where possible. Sometimes it can be cooking an extra chicken breast, so more food prep than leftovers, but more often than not it’s making extra stew or pasta to use the next day. I also like to cook a chicken once a week and use the leftovers to make a curry the next day.
If you are eating out… Use your student discount!
If you’re not fussed where you’ll be eating have a quick Google to find out which restaurants are offering student discount on a certain day (most are only Sunday to Thursday). If you are determined to only eat in one particular restaurant, book it on a day that you know they’ll be offering a discount (some offer even bigger discounts on certain days of the week). If you ever find yourself spontaneously in a restaurant, it’s still worth asking them when you walk in if they offer student discount. Often with the non-chain restaurants it’s hard to Google whether or not they offer discounts so the best way to find out is to ask in person.
Don’t buy junk food and try supermarket own brand
Either cut back or find recipes to make your own versions. Supermarket own brands are often a fraction of the price and whilst some products taste nothing like the leading brands, other items you’ll hardly notice the difference or maybe even prefer! Shop around and try a few different supermarket products.
Plan how much you can realistically afford to spend on food every week and stick to it (this is where the shopping list really helps). If you currently don’t cook anything from fresh, start with trying to cook a meal with flatmates at the weekend. As you get more confident with both your culinary skills and budgeting you can begin to cook more meals and try some batch cooking. If you’re a nightmare for letting food go to waste, I’d recommend doing a couple of shops a week rather than just one big shop, this will help you to use everything up instead of having to throw it away. Ultimately, enjoy the process! Learn what you’re good at and what you should definitely never attempt again; make new friends, laugh and feel the benefits of eating healthy on a budget.