Student budgets are tight. Here’s how to eat healthily on a student budget.
Some believe eating well means buying expensive food. This isn’t the case at all.
We’re here to bust some healthy eating shopping list myths and show how you can eat healthily on a budget.
Our essential student food shopping list for cheap living guide is also great to start with if you have absolutely nothing in. We recommend having that tab open too while you read this! Here are some super simple ways to eat healthy for less.
How to eat healthily on a budget
Plan your meals
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. This goes for eating healthy on a budget too.
By having a meal plan you can stick to the ingredients you actually need, rather than wandering around â€œlooking for inspirationâ€ and increasing the likelihood of overspending. Check out the 6 student Instagrams you should follow to get healthy meal inspo if you’re stuck!
Have an endless supply of fruit, veg and herbs
Got green fingers and the space to grow your own herbs, fruit and veg? You could have a go and grow your own!
This TikTok creator shows you how to have an endless supply of herbs:
Make a shopping list and stick to it
Once you’ve planned your meals, see what ingredients you need and write them down as a list on your phone or paper.
Cook at home more
Home cooking is way cheaper than eating out everyday. Plus, you know exactly what you’re putting into your meals and can be sure your meals are healthier than a restaurant or takeaway.
Batch cooking is very useful for eating healthy on a budget. You can make 2-3 nights’ worth of dinners or use the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Find the idea of batch cooking boring? Things like spaghetti bolognese, tacos, stuffed peppers can all be made using the same batch of mince!
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
Food shopping when you’re hungry is a recipe for disaster. You’ll likely spend on food items you’re craving, which will almost certainly be unhealthy foods too.
We’re all about shopping for a healthy grocery list here, and for less. So have a snack or a meal before heading to your local supermarket.
Buy whole foods
Buying a block of cheese, or whole chicken breast, as opposed to their shredded or chunk-form is way cheaper. The added process of chopping up meat or cheese into something easier to handle adds a premium.
Yes, it’s more effort to slice and dice, but in the long run, it saves you money!
The same also applies to brown rice, oats, and brown spaghetti. Less has gone into them to make them easier to cook. They’re often sold in much larger quantities too, which will reduce your need to restock them more often.
Buy own-brand items
Branded items have a reputation for tasting better than unbranded items. Sometimes people think own-brand items taste different between each supermarket too.
All in all, buying own-brand is far cheaper wherever you shop. Save the pennies and buy own-brand items instead of branded. These can be everyday staples like chopped tinned tomatoes, noodles, rice, cereal, oats, jams, spreads, and much more.
Avoid processed food
Processed food varies in price and it can be tempting to have the convenience of a microwave meal. But they’re full of the nasties that preserve them and don’t contribute to a healthy diet.
Plus, they rack up in price too.
This is why batch cooking is the best because you can still have the leftovers for another time, especially if they’re freezer-friendly!
Bulk buy on sale items
Be careful with this one.
It’s worth bulk-buying if you know you use the items a lot. Avoid unnecessary bulk-buying which could go down as food waste. Things to bulk buy could be dried herbs, dry spices, stock, rice and other dried cupboard food.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat
Cuts like chicken breast are more expensive than say chicken thighs. While the latter is seen as having more fat content, you simply need to trim off any excess and the skin.
While it might come across as effort, it’s not when it comes to saving pennies, and they might even taste better too!
Replace meat with other protein sources
Meat can generally be more expensive than pulses and tofu. These are other protein sources that are great for vegetarians and vegans. But if you really want to cut down on costs, swap out the odd meat-based dish here and there to make a tasty meal with meat alternatives instead.
Shop in-season produce
Buying in-season produce is much cheaper. This is based on the concept of supply and demand. Less availability means hiked-up prices, whereas more demand means larger supplies of the produce at cheaper prices.
Buy frozen food
Frozen produce is much cheaper than fresh produce and contributes to less food wastage.
It’s cheaper because it takes the produce much longer to spoil and they’re frozen as soon as they’re harvested too.
Look at healthy snack alternatives
We don’t mean the pre-packed dry stuff that’s covered in sugar. This TikTok creator builds a healthy snack box using whole foods and peanut butter as a dip!
Make a packed lunch
It’s tempting to buy that cheap meal deal, but the pennies add up and that could be money spent on your next food shop.
Make your lunch something to look forward to, rather than something plain to satiate you when 12pm hits.
Use loyalty cards and vouchers
Don’t forget to use loyalty cards from Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other major supermarkets. You’ll build up points overtime to get money off a future food shop, which means saving even more money in the long run.
Don’t waste your food
It can be tempting to throw out food you won’t eat, but this contributes to food wastage, which is a growing economical and environmental problem. Plus, it makes it a total waste of money.
Extend the life of your produce by popping it in the freezer. Most food can be frozen, such as:
Buy healthy food that fills you up
Foods with high fibre and protein content have been proven to keep you fuller for longer. They’re healthy food to buy on a budget too. Here are some of these foods to add to your food shop:
- Nuts and pulses
- Non-starch vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower)
- Eggs and meat
- Greek yoghurt
Use what you have already
Think you could stretch the food shop you have already by creating a whole new meal out of things you already own? You could be surprised to find what you have lying around! Use this meal generator that shows recipes based on what you already have at home.
Buy whole chicken
Think about it. From a whole chicken, you can get 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and 2 wings. Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could make a healthy broth from the carcass. This is at least 1+ week’s+ worth of protein for a variety of healthy meals!
Compare pre-packed and loose fruit and vegetables
Pre-packed fruit and veg is typically more expensive than loose. The best way to find out is to use the weighing scales in the supermarket and mark it up with how many you need for your meal plan. 9 times out of 10 though, buying loose will save cash on a healthy food shop.
And there you have it. It’s that easy to eat healthily on a budget no matter how tight it may be. Get food and drink discounts when you sign up to Student Beans to save even more cash on your healthy food shop!