Life in general is a bit tricky on a student budget. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there. Once the student loan comes in you initially feel like a millionaire. However, by the time you pay the rent, electricity and spend money for drinks/dinners out with friends… you can see where I’m going. The mere thought of purchasing wholesome food is undoubtedly out the window. “The pizza at £1 is the better option”… or is it really?

I believe the myth that ‘healthy eating is more pricey’ is total rubbish- if you do it right. I shopped, following the steps below, later on in my university years and realised, “why didn’t I start like this? I would have saved A LOT of money!” So I want to make sure you’re well informed about these tips for shopping well on a budget, during uni life. You’ll be surprised how you can feed your body with nourishing goodness and energy, choosing to live life to the fullest, as well as saving some of your student loan in the process.

Plan you meals: Writing a list of what you’d like to cook the week ahead may sound a little ‘fanatical-foodie’, but honestly it’ll save you money. This is because you won’t be tempted to buy anything that you don’t particularly need. Therefore, you won’t waste your cash, or any food!

Buy in bulk: Don’t be scared if a bigger bag of something is initially more expensive. Turns out, the more you buy of a product, the cheaper it will be in the long run. However, check the price per 100g before purchasing! Places like Aldi and Lidl are really great as a student, because you can buy big bags of oats and nuts etc., for a really reasonable price.

Prepare big batches of meals: Shopping in bulk will allow you to cook larger quantities of meals, saving you both time and money. If you have free time on an evening, or at the weekend, food prepping is so efficient. For example, just cook off a big saucepan of chili con carne/veggie, pop it in some tupperware (great investment!), and refrigerate/freeze. Then it’ll be ready waiting for you after a long day of classes as a nutritious, quick and easy “ready meal”. The hardest part of your evening will be cooking a bit of rice to go with it and possibly the washing up, if you could be bothered. You could always reward your flat mates with a great meal in exchange for the washing up duty… that totally seemed to work in our flat!

Purchase seasonal foods: Buying foods which are “in-season” and grown in the UK is a lot cheaper, as there are no added costs to the price tag, e.g. for air-mile transportation. Visit Love British Food to learn when is the best time to buy your seasonal goods. Oh, and are you interested in growing your very own vegetables? Well QMU offers a fantastic opportunity for students who wish to do just that! Email for more information if you’d like to harvest some seasonal produce yourself.

Love whole grains: Eating a big bowl of whole grain pasta, rice, couscous, or a couple of slices of bread, will keep you full for so much longer. As well, whole grains prevent those all-too-well-known 4pm hunger pangs, because they’ll keep your body’s energy (glucose) levels at a happy balance. They’re also cheap to buy and simple to cook. Be creative, by adding lots of lovely vegetables, seasonings, and some protein, either meat/hummus/beans/pulses. You’ll have a deliciously filling wonder feast, which will help stop you from blowing your bank balance, by going searching for snacks when you give into the “hunger”.

Lucie Weir

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