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10th October 2012

Healthy eating on a budget

Beth Currall leads you through her guide to healthy eating

We’ve all heard the University weight gain horror stories: the super-skinny girl from Sixth Form who came back at Christmas four stone heavier than when she left in September, with thighs like tree trunks. Home-cooked dinners are replaced with ready meals, fruit with ‘3 for £1’ sweets and let’s be honest, the only ‘potatoes’ that most students go near come in a Walkers packet. Who can blame us when it seems that nutritious diets are too expensive to be accessible on a student budget? However, there are ways to avoid the dreaded Uni weight gain. Here’s how you do it…

First thing’s first: look for bargains. Yes, crisps, sweets and other convenience foods are always on offer, but this is also true when it comes to buying groceries. In most supermarkets, fruit that is out of season (i.e. strawberries) have multibuy offers so you can get more for your money. It may also be worth looking for fresh fruit and veg that are nearing their ‘Use By’ dates. Just remember to eat them sooner rather than later. If you go to supermarkets later in the evening, you will often find plenty of reduced items. In addition, market stalls sell groceries at affordable prices.

Another good idea is to team up with your flat mates. It makes sense to club together to buy items, especially essentials such as bread and milk. That way, you’re all cutting your costs and preventing food waste. Arrange a flat meeting and make a list of all of the foods that everybody likes. Be careful not to end up paying for someone to eat gourmet steak three times a week when you’re a vegetarian though!

Frozen foods are not necessarily unhealthy foods. Frozen vegetables, for example, do not lose their nutrition – this is a complete myth! Frozen meat and veg are student friendly  products; you can preserve them for much longer. It’s processed foods that you need to be careful of, however, as they usually contain lots of saturated fats and salt. Shoving that pizza in the microwave may seem like the easy, tasty solution to your hangover hunger pangs, but think of the long term implications.

If your problem is that you are not exactly Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen, have no fear. There are so many nutritious meals you can make with very little culinary experience or knowledge – take it from somebody who knows! Think baked potatoes, stir fry and vegetable fajitas. If in doubt, there is bound to be at least one accomplished chef in your flat or house that can give you a helping hand. Learning to look after yourself is all part of the University experience, so don’t throw in the towel too easily.

Happy healthy eating students!

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