Healthy living without breaking the bank
It may sound impossible, but healthy living can definitely be achieved even with the smallest of budgets; yes that's right, you don't need to worry about reducing your partying funds just yet!
The big question we're sure you are asking is, how? To make things easier, we have put together 5 tips for staying healthy on a student budget.
It's ok, we get it - sometimes you just can't beat a takeaway, beans on toast, or some other stereotypical student meal! Nonetheless, the taste of a home-cooked meal is unbeatable, so let’s get your taste buds tingling and take a little breather from the spending.
Be a savvy shopper
We know it’s tempting, but under no circumstances should we be fooled by the power of branding! It can have a significant impact on your budget and often you’re just paying for prettier packaging, which is why you need to be a savvy shopper, and start playing the supermarkets off against one another to make them work for you. Take Lidl, for instance, assuming that you have seen their latest array of adverts; they break down the barriers that some supermarkets have built up and offer top quality products (including superfoods and antioxidants that tend to cost a small fortune) for a fraction of the cost.
Stock up on fundamentals
Have a think about what sort of food you eat, then compile a list of foods to get you through the week; be sure to stock up on the basics so that you’re not reaching for the takeaway menu. The key thing to remember about buying fundamental foods is that you shouldn’t deviate from them at the supermarket; they are staple items for a reason, so stick with them and they’ll look after you! Generally making a shopping list and not deviating away from it always helps avoid extra unnecessary purchases.
Great foods that won’t break the bank include:
- Brown rice
- Quinoa (a very popular choice these days as it looks like a carb but is in fact a protein – perfect for those who need something substantial in their meals)
- Raw nuts (cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts – any of these are great, as long as they’re not covered in salt or seasoning!)
- Veggies – Broccoli, sweet potato, spinach, carrots – you name it, be as creative or over the top as you like! You can also stock up on frozen vegetables to avoid anything fresh going off if you’re not always home; let’s face it, the best nights out are always the last minute ones!
- Fruit is a very important part of your shopping list, so stock up on things like apples, blueberries and bananas. They are perfect for snacking on and have some benefits like being antioxidants (blueberries) as well as mood-boosting nutrients (bananas).
- Coconut milk or almond milk – they are both great alternatives to dairy and taste delicious with porridge or muesli in the mornings.
- Meat can be the trickiest element within your shopping list, as fresh is most definitely best. Buy a whole chicken and plan your meals out – yes it’s slightly scary cooking a whole chicken but you do get a lot more meat for your money. If you’re looking for low maintenance meal ideas, mince is a great option too and it doesn't have to cost the earth.
- Fish is definitely good for you, and the best thing is that you can get some great pieces in both the frozen and fresh sections in the shops! We highly recommend stocking up on oily fish which aids brain development and is great for skin and hair.
Make a swap
For those with a sweet tooth, it’s time for a little tough love – put down the muffin and pick up a banana! Of course we don’t expect you to do this all of the time, but by making a few substitutions you can improve your health, and your student finances in the process. A similar rule can be used for the coffee lovers amongst us; if your local coffee shop knows your exact order before you utter a word, then maybe it’s time to reduce the amount of visits you make to them… Sure, it will be hard at first but if you buy a coffee five days a week which costs you £2.75, that’s £13.75 per week and scarily £660 a year! Think of how many months’ rent that represents, or how you would spend £660 if someone gave it to you. All you have to do is put down the coffee now, and start planning your ideal summer holiday.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth and prefer something savoury, then why not go for carrots and hummus instead? This isn't to say that you cannot ever have chocolate or crisps or whatever your go-to vice is again, it just means that you need to see them as a treat. We promise, they will taste so much better when you have them less often!
This is a really simple tip that should definitely be given more appreciation: planning meals ahead of time allows you to make shopping easier (all you need to do is stick to that shopping list) and to save money, while having some tasty dishes to look forward to. If the idea of planning fresh meals is too much then make good use of your freezer - it’s really that simple.
Know your facts
It’s really important to know what you’re eating and the effects food can have on your body. For instance, did you know that some people consider chocolate to have a negative effect on your mood? For instance, some people think that chocolate can have a negative impact on your mood, and if this is true it could lead to a dangerous cycle of emotional eating – the joy of tasting the delicious chocolate versus the negative emotional effect of eating it! On a serious note, if you’re trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle it’s really important to know what you’re eating and the effects food can have on your body. Understanding labels can be a little daunting but as soon as you have that mastered, you will at least know what you are eating and be will able to make wiser choices.
You’re now in the know on the dos and don’ts of leading a healthier lifestyle so get going, save some cash and enjoy some grub! We’d love to know how you’re getting on, so feel free to get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or Google+ with your recipes, experiences or general motivation for the rest of us!