After a long day of lectures, it can be a challenge to cook a healthy meal or consume at least 3 nutritious meals a day. Living on campus, or at home, preparing and cooking meals for yourself can be a struggle and time-consuming. The majority of the time we want to turn to UberEats or the nearest takeout shop after a long day in the life of a University student. As a student we want to live the best of both worlds: having a social life and completing our degree, but that comes down to expenses.
Clean and healthy eating habits are linked to effective studying, improved memory and alertness which positively affect your performance overall. Budgeting as a student is essential for financial stability, allowing to plan for short and long-term expenses, for example, a weekly food shop. Poor nutrition and diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies and illness, it can impact on your sleep, causing tiredness and can inhibit study. Maintaining a good balanced diet will energise your body and generally make you feel better.
5 top tips on how to consume a healthy diet on a budget…
Limit your spending
If you are overspending on your weekly food shop you are wasting both money and food. Creating a budget allows you not to spend an horrendous amount and save money.
Plan meals and make a shopping list
Planning meals will inspire you to consume nutritious meals. You will also find that you are using up your leftovers in the fridge, rather than leaving them to go stale. A shopping list will make sure you buy necessities!
Consume a balanced diet
Fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and foods high in fibre are essential for a healthy diet. Use your spare time to research essential foods and nutrients that are essential in your daily diet. Although a diet high in unhealthy fats and sugar is much cheaper than buying wholesome foods and vegetables, you are not absorbing the correct nutrients that your body requires.
Freeze & store leftovers
This could be leftover vegetables that have not been used up or meals that have been pre-prepared. When I purchase garlic, I grind the cloves together and empty the garlic into a container. Storing it in the freezer will allow the garlic to stay fresher for longer, save money and food!
Cook for yourself
Stay away from buying food outside every day. Preparing a meal and snacks ahead of your full day of lectures will fulfil you throughout your busy day and encourage you to save money. Apples, nuts, and yoghurt pots are healthier ‘on the go’ snacks, pre-packed and saving you time during breaks within lectures. Although the nearby food shops are tempting, campus food is expensive and will lead to you purchasing unhealthy foods. You can treat yourself to an everyday coffee which is cheaper than eating out!
The current pandemic is a major example of why people should be health aware and conscious of many health reasons. Cutting out regular consumption of frozen food, sugary snacks, processed meat, and unhealthy carbohydrates and swapping them for healthier alternatives helps create chemicals for the brain that can improve your studying. By maintaining a healthy diet, you are preventing yourself from illnesses and diseases.
Questions that may be helpful to ask yourself if you are budgeting correctly:
- How much do you spend on a weekly shop?
- What essential foods do you need?
- Are you prepping for the week ahead?
- Are you using coupons and discount codes at the till?
- Do you visit the reduced section in supermarkets?
Before I discovered my passion for studying nutrition and health, I was always fascinated with the idea of experimenting with various foods and creating healthy meals. As I eventually got into a routine after freshers’ week, I joined the gym and attended yoga sessions focusing on my wellbeing. Although never finding the motivation to cook for myself, I was content with the idea of ordering takeaways or sticking something in the oven. Constantly scrolling through social media, I was drawn to watching cooking videos and becoming inspired by other food accounts. I gradually built up the courage to start my own food blog on Instagram (@eatcleanwithrhia), slowly getting into the habit of eating healthily; I was able to manage my money by meal prepping weekly and buying essential foods.
Superfoods that should be in your kitchen…
Most canned foods also contain nutrients that are not damaged in the heating process. They remain fresher for longer. Some examples are chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, coconut milk and red kidney beans.
Whole grains are high in nutrients and fibre, compared to refined grains like white bread. Whole grains take longer to digest, keeping you fuller for longer. Some examples are wholemeal pasta, brown rice and quinoa.
Oats are another healthy wholegrain food rich in antioxidants and commonly known for the improvement of heart diseases. Oats made with honey and milk will give you the brain boost you need!
One of the best brain foods which aid to improve memory and function of the brain. Blueberries are best consumed in the morning, as they are known to improve and increase your alertness. You can use both frozen or fresh.
Dried fruits taste just as great as fresh fruit. Although some tend to contain additional added sugar, some are rich in natural sugars. Dried fruit should be included in a balanced diet due to their medicinal benefits they offer.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts are known for providing great amounts of healthy fat, fibre, and protein. Seeds also contain healthy amounts of monounsaturated fat, known to decrease heart diseases and blood sugar levels. They are known to keep the heart healthy and are great snack options.
A handful a day keeps the doctor away!
Eggs are known for one of the highest sources of protein. They contain a vast amount of nutrients, which are important for your health. They are inexpensive and can last for weeks!
Dark chocolate is a healthier alternative compared to milk and white chocolate, making this bittersweet food a superfood favourite. It is proven to reduce heart diseases and makes a great treat!
I hope my tips have encouraged you how to balance out a healthy diet on a budget. Check out my personal food account on Instagram providing you with tips, advice and inspiration for healthy meals.
Share this article with a uni buddy who needs to budget!
– Rhia Nanda
The University of Roehampton changes lives by helping our students to develop the confidence, knowledge and values they need for a successful and fulfilling life. We produce world-class research that helps us understand the world and change it for the better.