Moving in with your mates at university can mean late nights, lots of booze and baked beans for dinner more often than you’d like to admit, but it is possible to have a healthy lifestyle at uni. We’re here to help you too. Being short on cash (and spending what you do have on nights out) can make it feel impossible to get the nutrients you need to support your studies and training goals too. Here’s how you can hit your goals on a student budget.
Bulk cook your meals
As well as a low budget, you’re also short on time as a student. Between lectures, seminars, essays and your social life, there’s not a lot of room for cooking. The first tip, then, is to learn some tricks to make plenty of good food that you can sort out with a limited amount of time and attention.
Buying in bulk can often save you serious money over time — and if you’ve got a freezer, you can stock up for months at a time.
Keep things simple and know that you’re getting what you need by sticking to the 2:1 protein/carb ratio. This means sourcing bulk meat or protein products that you can freeze so you’re not having to spend on more all the time. You can then cook large meals and freeze into portions. A quick zap in the microwave and you’ll have a tasty meal to tuck into.
By making time for a bit of meal prep once or twice a week, your meals might not be as varied, but you’ll have saved both money and time (and know you’re eating healthy) by preparing a big pot. Why not try this fajita pasta bake for a great make-ahead meal?
It happens, and especially when you haven’t been eating properly and regularly you’ll find yourself in need of a snack at night. Fortunately for you and your limited budget, the best, healthiest snack foods are the most affordable. And the beauty of whole grains and lasting carbs is that they should fill you up so you don’t need to do another run to the shop to stock up straight away.
Easily digested foods are your first call, so that you’re not kept up to late. Avoid trans fats and refined carbs — in other words, stick to a small amount of natural, unprocessed food and whole grains if possible. This is because they’re broken down over a long time and so will keep hunger at bay for longer. Obviously, you’re best off having these earlier in the evening to save you from interrupted sleep. Here are a few ideas:
- Cereal and milk
- Wholemeal toast
- Peanut butter
- Fruit and nuts
- Wholegrain crackers
- Casein protein shake
Find takeaway alternatives
Student life has never been known for abstinence, and you can miss out on a lot of fun if you go around worrying about what you should and shouldn’t have. When it comes to food, takeaways are just too easy, always strategically located a short stumble from the local student night’s doors. After a night out you may not be even a little conscious of the longer-term effects of eating a takeaway, but when you can spare it a thought, consider a healthier option.
Up late, low on proper fuel, and probably experiencing low blood sugar levels after drinking, your body will be telling you it wants a quick fix of sugar and carbs and the smell of kebabs will seem the answer. Takeaways and junk food are generally processed, consisting of refined carbs and little nutritional value and essentially cost the same as a healthier alternative.
Get yourself home and eat one of the late-night snacks listed above. You don’t have to give up takeaways to protect your health or your budget either. Why not try making one of these delicious fakeaway recipes?