5 Top Tips to save money and stay healthy on a student budget

Carcassonne markets, fruit and veg stall

Hi all! Seeing as it’s a new year and all that, I thought I’d do something a bit different for today’s post. So, who’s been making New Year’s resolutions? I’m one of those people who only makes resolutions that I can keep, to save me from being disappointed in myself when it gets into February and I find myself surrounded by empty chocolate wrappers even though I swore I’d cut out chocolate this year- we’ve all been there. Last year my resolution was to start a regular home yoga practise, a resolution that I’m very proud to say I managed to keep! I now practise yoga daily. My only resolution for this year is to drink more water, something that I know I really should be paying more attention to.

I’m pretty sure that one of the most common new year’s resolutions is to be healthier, whether it be eat better or start a regular exercise routine. Another popular choice seems to be save more money! So today’s blog post is bringing you a little combination of the two- how to eat healthily and save money!

As some of you will know I am currently a second year student at Lancaster University, England, studying Theoretical Physics with Mathematics. Following moving out of my family home for the first time and learning to look after myself, I’ve come to know a few tips and tricks that have enabled me to really save my pennies when it counts. I also like to eat a well balanced diet, so I’ve gotten used to shopping in a manner that allows me to make plenty of healthy meals whilst saving my money.

I’ve put together my top 5 tips that I have learnt during my time as a student that have allowed me to make my money go further, whilst also maintaining a healthy and well balanced diet. Enjoy!

Meal plan! This is without doubt the most important thing I could tell you about budgeting. Weekly meal planning has saved me so much money over the past year, as it ensures I won’t go hungry while keeping waste to an absolute minimum. I will not buy anything unless I know I will definitely be using it for a meal that week. Make a plan, write your list and stick to it. Meal planning also means that you can concentrate on making meals which all use the same basic ingredients, and also ensuring that you will be eating a wide variety of healthy foods over the week ahead!ย Almost everything I cook will feature the same basic ingredients, whether it be a curry, chilli, risotto or quiche. I purposely buy veg that I know will work well together and in a variety of different recipes, such as onion, red pepper and mushrooms to name a few. Cook with the same kind of oil all the time to save you buying several, whether it be vegetable oil or olive oil. Purchase a few carefully chosen spices that are good all rounders, such as black pepper and mixed herbs. These will allow you to add favour to your dishes without requiring a full spice cupbpard to store them in!

Buy veg individually and focus on carbs Purchasing your vegetables individually will keep costs low. Buying just one or two carrots every week as opposed to a pack will mean that less food is wasted and also less money. I do this will all my vegetables, and usually only pay a few pence per item. You’ll already know exactly how many of each vegetable you will need thanks to your meal plan, so stick to it and don’t get carried away buying 3 for 2 cauliflowers when you know you’re only going to eat one. Opting for veg instead of fruit is also a great way of eating your five a day whilst on a budget; it’s cheaper and can be used to make several different dishes. Focusing on carbs such as rice and pasta is also a good way of maintaining a healthy diet while on a student budget. You can purchase a kilo bag of pasta for just a few quid, and it will be a great foundation for so many meal possibilities! The same goes for rice; open up your mind to curries, chilli and risotto, all using the same main vegetables, of course.

Learn the lifetimes of your groceries This is something that you will get to grips with within your first two weeks of moving away, though you probably won’t have given it much thought before. Think about it, if you live in a house with four people and you all drink milk, you’ve probably never seen that milk go off before, seeing as you all drink it daily. But if you go and buy yourself a 4 pint of milk just for you, you’re probably not going to drink it all before it sours.ย The same goes for your eggs, fruit, veg and meat. Learn the lifetime of your food! Once you know how long things will last, you can evaluate if its worth you buying 12 eggs or 6, and if its really worth buying a full pack of bacon just for you.

Make in bulk I have to be honest with you, I don’t freeze food. I wish I was more confident with that, but it’s just not something I’ve ever done. I do still, however, make food in bulk. Cooking for just yourself is strange, you’re dealing with much smaller portion sizes that will probably only require, like, a quarter of a pepper or something. I make things like veggie chilli and pasta salad and keep these in the fridge in tupperware for about three days. This means that I can still use full vegetables when I cook, and it gives me some really quick and easy no-cook meals later on in the week! To avoid getting bored of eating chilli three nights in a row, I’ll mix it up by serving it with rice one day, sweet potato another day and maybe tacos on the third day. But, of course, if you don’t fancy eating that much of the same thing and you’re comfortable freezing your food, by all means, go for it!

Buy the cheaper brands– OK, so I know this is probably not the piece of advice that you wanted to hear. You like your Heinz tomato ketchup and your Kellogg’s cornflakes, I get it. But cutting down costs does means that you have to make some sacrifices. I’m not saying you have to give up everything; decide which brands you cannot live with out and which ones you’re open to change with. I don’t like cheap baked beans as much as Heinz baked beans, so I still buy Heinz. But I purchase the supermarket’s own brand of bolognese sauce and honey. Making these decisions and being open to trying new brands really will cut down your weekly spending.

There you have it guys, my top 5 tips to help you save money and live healthily on a low budget. Going from living at home to managing your own finances at university can be challenging, and daunting for some, but with these top tips I guarantee that things will be a little easier.

So remember: implement your meal plan and stick to it, don’t buy perishable items in bulk, learn the lifetimes of your groceries, make large batches of food for the fridge or freezer, and be open to making sacrifices.

I hope that you’ve found this helpful, whether you be a student or simply looking for a way to cut down your weekly spending!

If you would like any more advice on food shopping on a low budget, or anything else for student life, please get in touch in the comments! You can also check out my other post on student life, Packing for university, here!ย 

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

9 thoughts on “5 Top Tips to save money and stay healthy on a student budget

  1. Emma says:

    Those are totally the choices Iโ€™ve made when I moved out of home about 8 years ago. Another thing that Iโ€™ve found is that making everything from scratch also saves so much money. I now make all my doughs for pastries and all my sauces from scratch and itโ€™s such a money saver! We normally manage to get all our shopping done for around $90 Australian (I think itโ€™s around 50 quids) for 2 and we can use the extra money to go to the movies every week ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

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