A revealing survey, carried out by Voucherbox.co.uk, found that 23 per cent of students in the UK spend less than £15 a week on food, and another 62 per cent spend less than £25. Food purchases were also found to take up to 50 percent of a student’s average weekly expenditure.
Shockingly, of those interviewed, 24 per cent admitted to cutting back on books and studying materials in order to feed themselves. Other common sacrifices made by students attempting to eat healthily include heating their home, medicines, and trips home to see family.
Many British universities state that a healthy student diet costs between £32 and £44 a week. With the average student food spend found to be £24.12 per week, it is clear that students are spending well under national guidelines on food, and that many are sacrificing our health and education due to the lack of money.
Of the students interviewed, 70 per cent admitted to eating unhealthy or strange meals due to a restricted budget. Strange meals listed by some students included eating cereal for every meal of the day, chips and ‘mystery’ meat, butter and sugar with rice, bread and water, and even bananas with baked beans.
Despite a restricted budget, nutritionist Dr. Rosland Miller, from the British Nutrition Foundation, ensures that it is possible for students to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
She stated, “it is important to eat a healthy, varied diet whatever your age or income. A healthy diet does not mean that you need to buy expensive foods, but an understanding of food budgeting and good nutrition can help.”
Dr. Miller’s top tips for eating on a budget included:
- Make a shopping list to avoid impulse buys
- Shop around for the best deals—markets and butchers are often cheaper than supermarkets
- Buy frozen or canned fruit and vegetables—they are cheaper and last longer
- Buy canned oily fish such as sardines and salmon—a lot cheaper than fresh fish, but still contain the essential nutrients
- Eat cheaper cuts of lean meat, or cut down on meat by replacing with protein-rich alternatives such as eggs, beans and lentils
- Cook at home—ditch the expensive takeaways and freeze leftovers