Eating well on a student budget
Starting college or university can be a busy and stressful time. safefood placement student, Rebecca Beattie has some tips for new and returning students.
It’s important to eat well all year round, but even more so once you start classes to keep your brain and body running smoothly. It may feel like too much effort or too much money to eat well after you’ve blown half your budget already on books, door stops and fairy lights, but here are my top tips to eating well on a tight budget.
1. Buy big bulk bags of rice and pasta and weigh out each portion
Buying in bulk is usually cheaper and this will add up throughout the year. Weighing out a single portion reduces food waste and allows you to see the correct portion size to prevent overeating. Here are some more tips on reducing food waste.
2. Buy frozen fruit or vegetables
I know this might seem strange on a list of healthy eating tips but buying frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh but less expensive. If you're buying tinned fruit and veg, choose options stored in water or its own juice - not syrup (or tinned fish stored in brine, not oil). These last for longer on the shelf than fresh Have a listen to our podcast all about the truth behind 'use by' and 'best before' dates and why we need them.
3. Don’t be tempted by the coffee shop
I know I’m guilty of this, smelling the coffee aroma and popping in for some caffeine to keep me awake in lectures. Once you get into the habit of buying a coffee or tea every day, the cost really adds up. Bring your own coffee made with skimmed milk and no extra sugary syrups if you need some caffeine. Or bring a tea bag with you and ask for a cup of boiling water to make your own tea. Remember too much caffeine can affect your sleeping pattern so remember to moderate your caffeine intake. For healthy adults, caffeine consumption up to 400 mg over the course of 24 hours is safe. One cup of brewed coffee contains 111 mg of caffeine.
4. Keep moving
You may feel like you now have no time for exercise, but it is so important for your mood, body and to reduce stress. Try walking to classes, taking the stairs or joining a sports club at your university.
5. Bring a packed lunch
Buying a lunch every day really adds up. Bringing a packed lunch means you can load it with healthy items like veggies and hummus and can save money on buying ready-made food. Bringing a water bottle is also a good idea to stay hydrated all day long. Here are some healthy lunch ideas.
These are a few of my favourite recipes that are quick, cheap and can be stuffed with extra veggies:
- Pitta with eggs and peppers
- Beef chilli con carne
- Chicken and broccoli bake
- Chicken fajitas
- Tuna pasta with sweetcorn and peppers