Good AND cheap nutrition to stay healthy at uni

Sure, some students eat chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets and chicken nuggets, but their health, fitness and concentration levels probably don’t thank them for it. If you’re wondering how you can eat well on a budget, here are some ideas.

How to eat well in student accommodation

Rather than focusing on calories or any particular diet, focus on different colours of food. Try not to rely on beige food. The varied colours in food are often indicative of nutrients, so the more colours you have the more different nutrients you’re getting. (The same is true for smell as well – think spices!)

Good, nutritious food can help you focus too – always handy when you’re trying to study.

1. Food that helps you keep fit

As well as keeping active, think about what macro-nutrients you’re getting in your food. This can help you make sure you’re not getting too much of one thing and not enough of what you need.

  • Generally you’ll need more fibre and complex carbohydrates.
  • Then you’ll need moderate amounts of protein.
  • Then have fats in small amounts (preferably non-saturated).

Following this trend also leads to fewer sugar cravings and then less sugar consumption. Which can then make it easier to focus.

2. Food that’s both healthy and tasty

Try going for things that soak up flavour amazingly well – like quinoa, red lentils, sweet potatoes, and wholegrain rice. With these basic staples you can make so many different things. You can easily adapt them into different international cuisines with a few flavourings you can keep in your kitchen cupboards.

For instance, you could take your quinoa, red lentils, sweet potatoes or wholegrain rice and:

  • for Thai, just add fish sauce (or seaweed if you’re plant-based), lime juice, honey, and some ginger and/or chilli
  • for a Spanish flavour, add sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, olive oil, garlic and onions
  • for Indian use onions, garlic, chilli, any curry powder you fancy (or your own blend), any vinegar (cider vinegar is fruity and cheap), tinned coconut milk and tomatoes – plus fresh coriander if possible

3. Food that’s not just nutritious, but CHEAP too

While fresh fruit and veg are so great, it’s worth getting lots of tins and lots of frozen. They’re super cheap (and tins are often on offer), so you can save loads while still eating healthily. Supermarkets like Morrison’s and Aldi are great for stocking up.

  • Generally, good veggies to get frozen are peas, sweetcorn, onions and broad beans.
  • Whereas frozen spinach, carrots and mushrooms aren’t always as good.

If you’re not sure where will be best for you to get good value food or spices, you could always have a chat with students already at uni – ask them where they get their bargains from, and the kinds of food they like to cook.

4. Stay hydrated!

An often-repeated tip at uni is to get a reusable water bottle – not just to save the planet from plastic, but to save yourself from getting dehydrated in lectures, seminars, on campus, or exploring your local area. (Even if you just can’t be bothered to go to the kitchen to fill a glass with water.)

Generally, aim for 2 litres of water a day, or more if you’re exercising lots.

Sometimes when you’re feeling hungry, your body needs water instead – especially first thing in the morning (when all you want is cereal or toast). Plus the more you drink earlier in the day, the less you’ll need later on – which will help you sleep better too.