8 top tips on how to stay healthy at University

Hi, dietetics-studentI’m Lily, i’ve just finished my dietetics degree at Coventry University, and can relate to the feeling of trying to eat healthily.

Here are 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.

Read more about the market in student Laura’s blog

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!

A useful recipe for Mexican Spiced Bean Chilli:


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.


  • Peel and slice the onion
  • De-seed the peppers and slice thinly into strips
  • Add everything into an oven-proof dish / large pan and stir together.
  • Don’t drain the beans as you want to keep the spicy sauce!If using the oven, bake at 180°C/gas mark 4 for 30 minutes and cover your dish with foil so it doesn’t go dry.
  • If cooking on the hob, cook for 20 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Meanwhile, cook the rice on the hob in boiling water per the instructions on the packet of rice.
  • When the rice and the bean chilli are ready, serve together.
  • Portion out any leftover bean chilli, let cool then freeze to use at a later date.
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.