The University of Derby will see approximately 29000 students commence their studies over the coming month. Many will be living independently for the first time and eating well when time, space and money is limited will be a challenge. Here are a few top tips that will stretch the student loan and help you create bright, colorful, healthy meals that fit into a busy life on a student budget.

Eating together always saves money

Take it in turns to cook every night. It is a great way of doing things as it saves time and money and every night you get to sit down together with a delicious, home cooked meal, which hopefully tastes amazing. It really helps save money, as you only have to worry about ingredients on the night you are cooking. 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 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 you are starving and get home knowing you have something nutritious that just needs reheating.

Fruit and Veg

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 produce comes from the cheaper end supermarkets. By packing more fruits and vegetables 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 money after graduation you can buy organic but for now concentrate on buying fresh produce that’s cheap. Unfortunately if you want to truly get the most for your money you have to be prepared to plan and prep. I save a fortune by making things from scratch rather than buying convenience options.

Frozen Food

If you are on a tight budget the freezer will become your best friend. 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 to save spending money unnecessarily.

Canned food 

Canned food is brilliant should never be underrated. Beans are high in fiber and protein, and are also incredibly cheap!  A can of chickpeas costs 30p at my supermarket, 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 favorite 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.

Garlic and Spices

Cooking with garlic and spices – they’re so cheap and can transform “boring” vegetables into delicious flavorsome dishes. One of my absolute go to budget dinners is garlic and spices sautéed with spinach, quinoa or beans and reduced in tomato sauce.  Top with creamy cubes of avocado for something very delicious, healthy and cheap.  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 on a tight budget. As eating well does require a certain amount of commitment 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?

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