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Eating Healthy at Uni on a Budget

Steph Williams Student Life

Eating healthy on a budget is one thing, but what do you do when you want to eat heathy on a budget at uni?

First things first, ditch the junk and aim for 8 glasses of water a day.

If you’re in halls, you’ve probably got 1 or 2 cupboards, limited fridge freezer space, 1 pan for boiling and 1 pan for frying as well as a very limited array of kitchen utensils and crockery. This makes it much easier for you to justify grabbing something on the go, which will eventually break the bank and even if you think its heathy, chances are it’s not.

Aim to ‘Do Good’. You’re probably not going to be a green juicing, protein guzzling gym enthusiast every day for the rest of your life, simple. It’s ok to have ‘cheat days’ and you don’t have to be a ‘gym goer’. Simply taking the stairs instead of the lift can have a positive impact on your health, physically and mentally.

So, by focusing on simply doing well, it is easier to progress without being discouraged by one or two cheat meals.

Here are some tips…

  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry! - You’ll end up buying more than you need
  • Pack a snack rather than buying one on the go. - You’re just paying for the convenience. Even if you choose a healthy option over crisps or chocolate, you could still save money if you make it yourself. Try a homemade smoothie or a peanut butter sandwich (brown bread)
  • Check the ingredients - If you can’t pronounce them you shouldn’t eat them
  • Primarily eat foods that ARE ingredients over foods that HAVE ingredients
  • Look for offers and reduced stock. - This is idea if you want to batch cook as you can store the rest in the freezer ready for a later date
  • Eat a variety of colours. - This will give you a variety of vitamins and minerals

One thing I would suggest buying is a George foreman type grill. Branded isn’t always best, you can get a supermarket brand grill for about £15. They’re super easy to clean, food cooks twice as fast, plus it’s a much healthier way to cook with a drip tray for excess fat.

I’d also recommend buying a smoothie maker/blender. Don’t buy an expensive one unless you know you’re going to get your money’s worth. Try the Breville Blend Active (£20-£30) or the Morphy Richards ‘Easy Blend’ (£20-£25) if that’s more your price point. If you can afford one, I’d really recommend the Nutri Ninja with Auto IQ (£95-£120), it’s awesome! Having a smoothie maker/blender allows you to get your 5 a day much easier; you can add extra veggies to smoothies to make them even healthier or a handful of seeds, maybe some Greek yoghurt or coconut water, just whatever you fancy! You can also blend pancake mix, eggs for omelettes, healthy milkshakes, salad dressings, dips or even soups.

One thing I bought for Uni was a waffle maker; I’ve managed to tweak a recipe I found online, essentially perfecting the home made waffle. It’s super tasty, healthy (and sugar free!) and is very quick to make. But, waffle makers aren’t just for waffle mix… try making an waffle omelette, hash browns, frittatas, Quesadillas or even pizza! They’re easy to use and easy to clean.

If you haven’t already, get yourself a Pinterest account! (You can sign in using Facebook, so there are no extra passwords to remember.) You can search for practically anything and get a result. I searched ‘Cheap Heathy Food’ and got hundreds if not thousands of results, each one linking to recipes. You could try searching ‘heathy 2 ingredient snacks’ or ‘student meals’ check it out and let me know what you think!

This for That
Start a ‘This for That’ list. This could be written, it could be a conscious decision you make when you go shopping or you could save it in your notes on your phone or tablet. This list will help you remember heathier substitutions/alternatives for foods; here are some of mine…

Swap This... ...For That
Bag of crisps Air popped-pop corn
Chips Roasted carrot or sweet potato
Mayo Avocado
Shop bought pizza Homemade pizza with cauliflower or oat flour base
Breadcrumbs Cornflakes (pulse in a blender)
Spaghetti Courgetti
Lasagne sheets Aubergine or courgette (egg plant or zucchini)
White rice Brown rice or cauliflower
Tortillas Lettuce wraps or corn tortillas
Butter Avocado
White flour Wholemeal flour
Ice cream Frozen banana 'Nice Cream'
Fizzy drinks Sparkling water with fruit
Potato Sweet potato
Quiche Crustless quiche or egg muffins
Cereal Porridge or overnight oats
Sandwich Homemade veggie soup
Cream Coconut cream
Sugar Honey or apple sauce
Waffles/pop tarts Waffles (homemade)
Creamy pasta sauce Creamy cauliflower sauce
Pre-packed smoothies/juices Homemade smoothies
Milk chocolate Dark chocolate
Mashed potato Mashed cauliflower
Greek style yoghurt Greek yoghurt (higher in protein)

Try snacking on seeds occasionally too; they’re naturally high in vitamins and minerals.

Sesame seeds: High in vitamin B5 (important for mental performance), vitamin B3 (helps to reduce tiredness & fatigue, so put down the red bull!). They also contain vitamin B6, folate, zinc and iron, helping to fight off coughs and sneezes!
If you don’t like the idea of eating seeds, try Tahini (the sesame seed equivalent of peanut butter) spread on wholemeal toast.

There are lots of other seeds you could try too…
Linseed/flaxseed, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are all sources of protein and high in fibre!

Where to shop to find heathy foods at student prices…

First you should try green grocers for fresh fruits and vegetables, chances are they’re grown locally and they’ll cost much less than the supermarkets.
Here’s a real example…

--- Tesco Green Grocer
Weight and price per punnet 227g @ £2 400g @ £1.50
Price per kilo £8.82 £3.75

Save yourself some money!

Same goes for meat, head to your local butcher! Tesco chicken breast mini fillets work out at £10 per kilo where as my local butcher charges £5 for a kilo of chicken breast, plus they taste much better.

Aldi & Lidl have offers on every week, find your closest store and take a look, the vegetables especially are cheap.

Meatless protein sources
Without a doubt, the most expensive part of a meal is the meat, now if you’re a vegetarian you’ll probably already know this but I have put together a short list of meatless protein sources, try swapping them for meat a couple of meals a week and save a bit of cash.

Chia seeds 2 tbsp (24g) 4g protein (also high in calcium)
Nut butters 2 tbsp 8g
Oats 1 cup (90g) 6g
Greek yoghurt 100g 10-11g
Eggs Per Egg 6g
Beans 180g serving  16g
Broccoli 180g serving 5g
Cauliflower 180g serving 5g

And those seeds we mentioned before!


Oat flour waffles
1 ½ Cups oat flour (135g)
2 tsp baking powder

1 cup milk or milk alternative (240ml)
1tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
¼ cup melted coconut oil (60ml)

3 tbsp maple syrup, agave syrup or honey (optional)

Combine dry and wet ingredients separately, then whisk wet ingredients into dry, leave to sit for 5 mins, whisk and use! This mix makes great pancakes too! (Don’t leave this mix to use later in the day, the oat flour will absorb all the moisture and will thicken far too much to be used, use all the mix and store any extra waffles in the freezer. To reheat, simply take from the freezer and toast!)

Oat flour pizza crust
1 ¾ cups oat flour (170g)
3 eggs
¾ cup grated cheddar (60g)
Sat & pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 190c (Gas 5 / 375f). Combine all ingredients into a dough, place between 2 pieces of greaseproof paper or cling film and roll out to 0.5cm. Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven; add your sauce and toppings then return to the oven for 10 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

‘Chocolate Nice Cream’
2 bananas chopped and frozen – add to food processor and pulse until smooth
Add 1 tbsp coco powder (or raw cacao powder) – pulse until combined

Soft serve – serve immediately
Firm serve – Return to freezer for 1-2 hrs

I stumbled across some awesome smoothie recipes over on The Domestic Geek. They’re delicious, give them a try!

Funky Monkey Berries and Beets Pumpkin Pie Plum Daddy Green Goddess
  • 1/2 cup milk (120ml)
  • 1/2 cup greek yoghurt (120ml)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tbsp chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup milk (120ml)
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt (120ml)
  • Handful of chopped beetroot (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries (hulled and sliced)
  • 1/2 cup of berries
  • 1/2 cup milk (120ml)
  • 1/2 cup greek yoghurt (120ml)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (120ml)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp marple syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk (120ml)
  • 1/2 cup grapes
  • 2 plums, sliced
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup green tea (120ml)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 apple
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 cup baby kale or baby spinach

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