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We all know how much of a challenge it can be to go from living at home and not having to think about the food shop or what to cook each night, to being completely in charge of feeding yourself. The temptation to just live off chicken nuggets and super noodles is an easy one to give into, especially when you’re on a tight budget as most of us are! But there are ways to eat well without slaving over a pan all night and without breaking the bank. So here are the top tips that I’ve found help me eat well at university!
Plan your meals
I hear so many people say that they don’t know what they will want to eat until the day in question. But meal planning doesn’t have to be that rigid. You can change things about on your plan to make it work for you. Just make sure that you pay attention to dates on things like meat and dairy. But doing this means you avoid buying food you don’t need and wasting money by doing so!
Make lunches in advance
The hardest meal to make, I find, during a busy week of lectures is lunch. It’s so tempting to join the queue for Greggs or Subway, but this is not the most cost-effective method of eating. Preparing lunches in advance can be so easy: you can store cooked pasta for a while if it’s in an airtight container in the fridge, and the same goes for chicken. Bulk cook enough for three days on a Sunday and you have the basis for a healthy and filling lunch. Then each day you can mix it up with different vegetables or a sauce.
We’ve all experienced the challenge that is making something like spaghetti Bolognese for one. Mince just doesn’t come in that portion and one onion is too much, as is a tin of tomatoes. So instead of trying to make it work for one, and either over-eating or wasting food, cook enough Bolognese for four portions: in my experience a 500g pack of mince is perfect for this. You have choice then: you can have it a few nights in a row (just make sure it’s stored in a decent container and refrigerated), or you can freeze it. The latter is great because it means you can stock up your freezer for when you don’t have time and need some quick meals. Plus, in the long run this saves money and prevents the wasting of too many ingredients.
Invest in good food storage
Tupperware boxes and zip lock bags are a life saver and you can get them really cheap. Try and invest in some Tupperware with snap lock lids for your lunches, that way you don’t need to worry about anything leaking in your bag! Anything that is sauce-based is great in a zip lock bag. This saves so much space in your freezer as you can flatten the bags and pile them on top of each other. Cheap Tupperware boxes like the ones you get from takeout are also great for the freezer.
Utilise the market in town
The best method I have found for saving money, is that of sourcing ingredients from the market in town on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Not only is this a great way to support local traders, but the vegetable stall is so much cheaper than buying the same produce at the supermarket! Plus, you’re more likely to get the best fruit and veg as everything will be in season.