Advice: Eating Well as a Student
One of my favourite instagram accounts is Isa or Goodness Guru, she’s so great and is full of awesome recipes. She’s also a student at Edinburgh so I thought she’d be a great person to ask to share some tips and tricks on eating well when time, space and money is limited! When we talked about it she said that she saw it as a challenge, which I loved – it’s a challenge to create bright, colourful, healthy meals that fit into a busy life on a student budget. So to stretch your student loan she’s shared her five top tips as well and a few recipe ideas to show you how easy and enjoyable it can be… over to Isa!
You can’t be perfect
In an ideal world, I’d buy organic, free range, local produce to ensure I was really getting the healthiest ingredients possible. But in all honesty most of my stuff comes from Tesco’s. Fruit and veg there is usually a £1, especially if it’s local, so there really is no excuse. By packing more fruits and veggies into your diet, regardless of whether they are organic, you’re still doing better than everyone else living off toast and pasta! When you’re earning your own dollar you can buy organic until your hearts content but for now don’t get hung up on all the little things.
But you can’t be lazy
If you can’t always be perfect, then you definitely can’t be lazy. If you want to truly get the most for your money you have to be prepared to plan and prep. I save masses by making things from scratch rather than buying convenience options. For example, making almond milk myself on Sundays takes 5 minutes and I save loads of money compared to buying ready-made versions in supermarkets. Healthy snacks are also incredibly pricey, so always make your own. I’m lucky in the sense that I adore cooking so over the weekend I’ll dedicate some time to preparing some healthy snacks for the week, which means that I don’t have to spend any money on expensive ones. If you really can’t be bothered to cook order some nuts or seeds off amazon (where you always get the best deals) and keep a little jar of homemade trail mix in your bag.
Eat together and make left overs
Eating together always saves money. Last year there were 5 girls in my flat and we took it in turns to cook every night. It was such a great way of doing things as it saves time and money and every night we got to sit down together with a delicious, home cooked meal, which was amazing. It really helped to save money, as you only had to worry about ingredients one night of the week. If you live on your own, or you can’t persuade your friends to try out this system you can always do larger pots of things and either keep them in the fridge for the next few days or the freezer. I guess you do compromise slightly on variety if you’re eating the same thing for several days but it will save money and you won’t waste any ingredients, so I say it’s worth it. It’s also great when I’m starving, get back to my flat and don’t have time to spend ages making dinner as I have something nutritious waiting for me that simply requires reheating.
I’d say I often have more food in the freezer than the fridge. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a fab alternative to fresh ones especially for whizzing up smoothies, soups, or desserts (even healthy students deserve a sweet treat now and again) as they’re much cheaper. My staples are frozen berries, frozen bananas, and frozen peas. The berries are particularly useful; I always chuck a handful into my porridge or pancake mixture for an antioxidant boost to my breakfast and it saves me so much money. The freezer is also a great way to prevent waste. I hate throwing away good food, even if I don’t come back to it for a week or so, I’ve always got a meal ready for me so I save on splurging when I’m really hungry.
Cans are your best friends
Beans are high in fibre and protein, and are also incredibly cheap. A can of chickpeas costs 55p coupled with some sweet potato, coconut milk, curry paste and spinach, you’ve got yourself a healthy hearty meal that could easily serve two people. There really is no excuse whatsoever. My other favourite canned goods include tomatoes and coconut milk. You can also whizz up things like homemade hummus, which is so much cheaper than pre-packaged hummus and it tastes better soon.
Garlic and spices transform everything
I love cooking with garlic and spices – they’re so cheap and can transform “boring” vegetables into delicious flavoursome dishes. One of my absolute go to student dinners is garlic and spices sautéed with spinach, quinoa or beans and reduced in tomato sauce (try and pick one with no additives or sugar). Top with creamy cubes of avocado for something very delicious. You can make a massive pot of this that will easily last for a couple of days.
So there you have it – I’ve tried and tested these methods and can say that it really is possible to eat well as a student. We are very lucky that supermarkets are starting to stock ingredients like quinoa that you could only before find in health food shops so make the most of that. However, it does also take a certain level of commitment, although I see it as a hobby! So my final tip is enjoy preparing and eating your healthy meals and remember when you are purchasing nourishing ingredients you are ultimately investing money in your health and wellbeing – what really can be more important than that?