Eating well as a student is tricky. Vegetables seem to go off too fast, and lean meats and fish are expensive. Here’s some tips on how to eat well on a student budget.
Frozen meat and vegetables will be your best friend at university. Cheaper than fresh, and often in bigger portions, you can buy a bag that’s more than you need and not worry about it going off. Even better, the nutritional differences between fresh and frozen are negligible. Just be sure to fully defrost meat before cooking. Food poisoning isn’t fun.
You can also utilise the freezer by making big batches of sauces and soups, and freeze them. That way, you’re never without food. If you’re a big fan of toast, buy a big loaf of bread and freeze it in individual portions of two or three slices. You can pop frozen slices straight in the toaster or under the grill. You can defrost and have for sandwiches, but it’s not always as nice. Just be sure to get 50/50 or wholemeal bread to get the most fibre.
Wholegrain pasta, brown rice and other grains like quinoa are great alternatives to over processed white varieties. Buy them in the biggest bags you can find to get the best savings. Brands don’t matter for basics, so go for supermarket value options, like Morrison’s savers, or Tesco value. This is a great way to cut costs on the whole. Most supermarket own brands are the same things but way cheaper. You don’t need to pay extra for brightly coloured packaging. Other things you can buy in bulk are tins and jars, so take advantage of multi-packs and offers.
Other than getting yourself a slow cooker, this is my number one cost saving tip. Batch prep everything for lunch and dinner into Tupperware (Wilkinson’s sell the ones you get from the Chinese for cheap, or have a flat Chinese night and keep the boxes for yourself). This has saved me on many nights when I didn’t want to cook. Just throw in the microwave and dinner is done. Its also the best way to know exactly what’s in your food.
I love meal prepping as a way of ensuring I eat what I’m supposed to. I’m not very good at eating vegetables unless I’ve pre planned them. I also like pre prepping snacks. Cutting up vegetables, or weighing out portions of healthy snacks like dried fruit, popcorn or nuts stops me from eating way more than I should. I’m a rubbish judge of portion sizes.
A great way to keep the costs of fruit and vegetables down is to buy seasonally. That way you aren’t paying the cost of importing things from hot countries. In winter, base your meals on root veg, and in summer take advantage of cheaper British apples and berries.
If you live near a Morrison’s, check out their wonky veg range. Its often much cheaper, and the only thing ‘wrong’ is they look a little funny. Things like grapes, peppers and potatoes can be up to 25% cheaper just for being not quite perfect. If you order online, Morrison’s offer a wonky veg box, which has some great savings. (Morrison’s haven’t sponsored me for this section, I’m just a big fan of reducing food waste).
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Rebecca studies English at Keele University and writes a weekly advice column for First Years.