If going to university is the first time you’ve had to do your own food shopping and cooking, it’s worth forming a plan to ensure you can eat healthily and do it within your budget.
Here’s some of our top tips for saving money, keeping it healthy and making the food you have go further.
The key to cooking nutritious meals is being organised. The beginning of term is a perfect time to stock up your food cupboard with essentials such as pasta, rice, beans and tinned tomatoes.
Make a list of meals for the coming week, as this helps you use up food you’ve already got and identify the things you need to buy.
Try to avoid shopping if you’re feeling hungry, as you’re likely to be easily tempted to skew your shop towards unhealthy snacks and spend more than your weekly budget.
Having your food shopping delivered to your accommodation is another way of being organised, sticking to a list and saving money. You can set up a shopping list for your frequently bought items and essentials. Most supermarkets also let you choose a regular delivery slot when you know you’ll be at home.
Often meat and fish can be the most expensive food items, so increasing the amount of vegetables in your diet is a simple and cost-effective way to eat healthily. Why not swap meat with some extra veg in your casserole or choose a night of the week to regularly cook a veggie meal?
Take a look at the range of frozen fruit and vegetables too, as they’re picked at the peak of freshness and then frozen to retain more of their healthy nutrients.
Preparing and cooking your own meals from scratch is far more nutritious than opting for prepared meals, and it’s more fun! Why not invite friends around and rustle up a meal together? Cook a huge pot of veggie chilli, bolognese or a casserole, then freeze any leftovers for a healthy home-cooked meal when you need a quick dinner. It’s also a great way to try new dishes and flavours, while relaxing with your friends.
If you’re on a budget, swap premium brands for supermarket own-brand products and search the internet for offers and coupons to find the latest deals. Pop to the supermarket in the evening and look for reduced price items that are close to their sell-by date but can be turned into a speedy supper. And discover international food stores and ethnic markets for a wide range of ingredients, which are usually a lot cheaper than their supermarket equivalents.
Ok, so cooking isn’t for everyone, but if you do get into it, there are thousands of healthy recipes online, from simple three and four ingredient meals to something more adventurous for a special occasion with your mates.
The key is to be flexible and try something new. Experiment with ingredients and seasonings, embrace wholegrains and pulses, and ask friends for their favourite budget-friendly and healthy recipes.
Written by the Nurtur team