Student budgets limit your meals out – no student worth their salt wants to be spending their spare cash on expensive (albeit delicious) Marks and Spencer’s lunches and late night takeaways.
As the university term kicks off again, here are the best ways to stay healthy and save money this year, with help from food bloggers Pippa, from pippacolecooks and Chloe, from ninegrandstudent.
Nobody wants to spend their Sundays making bulk meals for the week ahead, but it is one of the best ways to ensure that your lunches are done for the week.
Nothing is worse than a Wednesday morning scramble to find something to put in your wraps, and this way you can’t be tempted to nip and grab something unhealthy from the library shop.
Student food blogger Pippa, 21, advises buying a few staples and basing your meals around them: “Sweet potatoes and spinach practically became my middle names in first year, I used them as the basis of a number of meals, but changed them up with a modest collection of spices.
“Stock up on cumin and garam masala for spiced dishes, paprika and barbeque sauce for something a little smokier and keep a couple of window herbs (coriander and rosemary would be my shout) for tray bake and one-pot dishes.
“With this small collection to vary the flavour, you don’t need to shop with an ingredient list the length of your arm.”
Don’t punish yourself
Pippa advises students to “plan in the occasional lunch/brunch trip and you’ll keep those cravings at bay the rest of the week.
“Have a weekly revision brunch with friends and use the café space to work after you’ve eaten. It’s not something you can do every day, but it’ll hopefully give you a sufficient café fix to boost your mood.”
Pippa advises fellow students to cut out expensive meat cuts and replace them with meat free alternatives: “Do this without ethos or agenda, merely with thoughts for your pocket.
“You’re soon going to crash through your budget if you try to base every meal around meat, especially prime student cuts like chicken breast (one of the most expensive and least flavoursome in my humble opinion – at least buy thigh if you need that meat hit).
“Get your hands on tinned pulses, dried are even better value, but as if we’ll ever remember to pre-soak.”
Try and spruce up your packed lunch
According to Pippa, cous cous is a cheap and easy way to spice up your lunchbox: “Cous cous is an absolute saviour. Instantly more exciting than a sandwich and a cheap way to add bulk to a salad.
“Throw in some feta and roasted veg; add a spoonful of leftovers from the night before (be it fajita mix, spicy one-pot or veggie stew); or simply chuck in some hummus and grated carrot, beetroot, courgette or any salad ingredient you fancy.”
Another favourite (and cheap) veggie is beetroot, which Chloe likes to work into her lunches: “Chop some of the vac-packed stuff and roast with salt and pepper for around 20 minutes. Let cook then toss with lentils and salad leaves. Goats cheese is also good here if you want to be a bit more fancy.”
Buy cupboard staples like oats, pasta and eggs
Chloe praises healthy staple ingredients: “You can`t go wrong with pasta (just weigh out a proper portion), and I find oats are great for breakfast, but you can also turn them into cookies.
“I also think eggs are pretty good value for money, and I like lentils/beans for bulking out meat dinners cheaply.”
Coordinating with other friends or housemates can help lift the burden of cooking, saves money and is much more fun than cooking and eating alone.
Setting a regular date to dine together on a rota of cooking and buying the food versus doing the washing up is a great idea way to save money and socialise.
Buy fresh produce loose
Buying packs of vegetables are both more expensive and do not allow you to buy as much as you need – one person cannot possibly eat a big bag of fresh food, and it will go to waste alongside your cash. Simply buy exactly what you need for the week to save surplus and money.
…But also buy in bulk
In terms of food that will keep long term (tinned food, pasta, sauces) then do buy in bulk. If products that you like are on offer – buy them and stash them for later on.