Hi, I’m Lily, I’m a 4th year Coventry University student, studying dietetics and I know the feeling of trying to eat healthily. You try really hard to cook from scratch, yet always end up getting Deliveroo or ordering Dominos. Sound familiar?
I’m here to share my 8 top tips and ideas on how to cook, eat well, and stay healthy on a budget.
1. Plan ahead
Spend ten minutes once a week planning what (healthy) meals you are going to eat during the next week. This way, you don’t have to think about what to cook after a long day of lectures, and you’ll not spend as much money on a cheeky Nando’s! I find it easy to get a weekly planner that I’ve stuck in my room with meals I’ll be having each day.
2. Buy reduced food and freeze it
Healthy food, including fruit and vegetables can be expensive, so find out when supermarkets reduce their food – Sainsbury’s Trinity Street and Far Gosford Street start reducing food from 2pm.* Freeze the reduced food if you’re not going to eat it immediately. Similarly, buy food in bulk and prepare a massive batch of your favourite meal, then freeze it in portions (invest in Tupperware!).
3. Know the difference between a ‘use by’ date and a ‘best before’ date
Use by dates tell you whether the food is safe to eat. Either eat the food before this date or freeze the food before this date. After this date, the food is unsafe to eat. Best before dates indicate quality (the food is still safe to eat, don’t just throw it away!).
4. Buy supermarket own products instead of branded products
Often supermarket own brands are cheaper to buy and contain less salt and saturated fat. Save money and eat healthier!
5. Go to the market
Coventry’s market is great for buying cheap fruit and vegetables – you might even be able to barter some bargains.
6. Use herbs and spices
You might think healthy meals can be bland … use herbs and spices to make meals taste amazing whilst staying healthy! My favourites to buy are mixed herbs, paprika, chilli flakes, garlic granules and onion granules.
7. You don’t need a spiralizer or a nutribullet to eat healthily
Follow a balanced diet – everything in moderation! Look at the Eatwell guide for more info.
8. Remember physical and mental health
The Coventry University Active programme is a cheap way to try different activities and take a break from your studies. Even better, sessions start from only £2!
Here’s a recipe for one of my favourite easy meals, it’s enough for 4 portions. You can turn this recipe into a hearty nacho dish by replacing the rice with tortilla chips and serving with sour cream.
Equipment you’ll need:
- An oven-proof dish and aluminium foil or a large pan
- A medium size pan
- A chopping board
- A knife
- A can opener
- A tablespoon
- 1 can mixed beans in chilli sauce
- 1 packet of fajita mix
- 1 onion (you can buy a big packet of frozen, already cut onions)
- 2 sliced peppers (again, you can buy frozen)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- White basmati rice – make enough rice for the meal you’re eating, if you have any leftover bean chilli, cook fresh rice on the day.
Thanks for your tips Lily! Who else is rushing out to buy those ingredients?! If you have more healthy living ideas you’d care to share with others, please let us know in the comments below.