'Being healthy at uni is hard' ' healthy food is expensive' 'I just buy chicken nuggets and chips- so I can't eat healthy'- just some statements I've heard over my time at university😉
Before I even came to university, I was a big fan of cooking for myself💛 I actually think it's one of my favourite things. I won't pretend I'm an excellent chief, pairing flavours well, know how to cook dishes to there best effect. When I came to university, although my cooking hasn't changed (I still eat very much the same kinds of food I did at home) the only difference is now, I have to buy everything and as a student with a loan (that barely covers the cost of my accommodation!) buying ingredients and having meals that are healthy and tasty can be a difficulty. However you have to remember that as a student you only eat what you buy, therefore if you only buy chicken nuggets and pot noodles, then of course that's what you'll end up eating! I feel the issue for many students, sometimes is not knowing what to buy without having an idea of how to use it in dishes they like (frozen chicken nuggets is not a meal *eye roll*- I'm sorry).
Basic staple ideas in my fridge, freezer and cupboards honestly help with always having healthy and convenient foods that are ready for me to use! I love it, I never have to worry about planning an extravagant dish or the 'use by dates' because they are part of my everyday foods. It also means I don't end up buying crappy, unhealthy foods that may be 'quick' or 'fast food' but lack any nutritional value or goodness.
As someone who wants to look after their body and fuel it with nourishing foods, one might think that foods like that comes at a cost?😥 It really doesn't, basic food items (which you probably eat some of already) are not that hard to find that have massive health benefits and are great for living the good life💚✌
Trying to find those basic staple ideas can take some time- but let me share some of my 'go to' food items, the health benefits of them and meal ideas that are student budget friendly and are quick to cook✔🙌
-Bananas (14p-20p per banana)
If you didn't know how much I love bananas then read this loud and proud... I 💛 🍌 (😜😛🙆) they're by far the most versatile fruit and yes... the most delicious! (of course subject to opinion) literally you can use theses within breakfasts, desserts, snacks, or freeze them! I don't think there is anything you can't do with them. ✔💚The health benefits of bananas provide great bone health as its high amount of potassium means it slows down calcium loss, as well as providing good gut health with
prebiotic compounds with a feel good boost😆. I certainly get this effect a lot (always making me smile when eating them!).
-Blueberries (£1.30-£2 per 130g)
You may already be aware but frozen fruit is 1) cheaper 2) have no difference in nutritional value! Fresh or frozen is both exactly the same in nutrients and therefore frozen fruit is GREAT for students. It means having fruit doesn't need to be expensive and it will last even longer! ✔💚 blueberries contain anthocyanin which improves gut health (helpful after a night of drinking😏😂).
Although slightly higher in price, PLEASE SAVE YOUR PENNIES AND GET FROZEN!!! you get so much more for your money💸💸💸💸
✔💚raspberries regulates blood sugar levels as well as a powerful antioxidant and stimulates metabolism so no hunger slumps for you.
Rasberries and blueberries make an excellent compote- perfect for porridge topping or yogurt👅😍
-Avocado (49p-£1 per 1)
Not a student friendly food? why not!! Although they can seem expensive, an avocado goes faaaarrrrrrrr......🔮 a portion of an avocado is 1/4 which means out of 1 avocado that's 4 PORTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!! Avocados are the best find of food where the longer you leave it the better it gets, therefore don't be in a hurry to eat (although its very hard to hold off). ✔💚 Lowers blood pressure (helpful for all those exams and assignments with a zillion deadlines and hours of netflix series to catch up on🙈) with the monounsaturated fats are protection against heart disease and stroke (although sometimes the price of avocados can be the cause of this😉) My salmon on rye bread just isn't the same without the avo😍😍😍😍. Have you tried avocado cream recipe? TRY MY RECIPE!
Broccoli or midget trees?🌲 I absolutely love broccoli- partly down to the fact I feel its the ultimate health food because✔💚 its full of pantothenic acid, beta-carotene and sulphur compounds which help repair tissues= beautiful skin of yours💆It adds colour to your plate and is a salad booster.
My favourite pairing for broccoli is with Salmon, feta and butternut squash🐟
Who says i can't get through a family pack of peppers in less than a week? (someone questioned this in my seminar!)
✔💚Peppers are well known for there antioxidant and prevent the bad
cholesterol of oxidation. Not sure how to use them?
Stir frys, stuffed peppers with quinoa and feta with seeds or add them to salads for the rainbow effect💙💚💛💜💖
Boring veg right?
Maybe (I'm not about to defend this guy) however the fact they bare no taste means no excuse not to add them WHENEVER POSSIBLE! Let's state some facts for this green guy ✔💚 it maintains your water balance because of the high water content meaning its great for heart and kidneys. Provides good gut health through the erepsin (digestive enzyme) which helps with protein break down, cleaned the intestines too (wow so much for something that doesn't have a taste!).
Humorous, celery and cucumber sticks is my fave way to have it
This is constantly being replenished in my fridge!! I have this in
practically all my meals either raw, steamed, blended or sautéed. ✔💚 high amount of vitamin k (fat soluble) which protects bones- great for a physical and active student. Pairing spinach with a fat helps with the absorption of the micronutrients.
Breakfast fave: sautéed spinach with mushrooms, tomatoes and cannelloni beans added with avocado cream on rye bread
Wanna make your wee pretty? Then eat lots of this stuff! Not only is beetroot great for an interesting urine ✔💚Beetroot helps support the liver (good for you boozy students!🍻). It also helps with blood oxygen intake by vasodilation so muscles can get more oxygen (good for active students too💪)
Sweet Potato (£1-£1.50)
I AM CONSTANTLY EATING THESES LIKE THEY'RE GOING OUT OF FASHION!!!!!!!!!!!
Sweet potato is incredibly versatile AND are full of nutrients providing you with a complex carb. ✔💚Sweet potatoes provide glucose control (no insulin spikes!). They're also immune boosting with it containing the beta-carotene and vitamin C to strength the immune system.
My sweet potato faves include: sweet potato curry, sweet potato homemade wedges, mashed sweet potato or stuffed sweet potato😜
Almond/ Peanut butter (£2.50-£4)
Although a little more expensive, however nut butter are surprisingly healthy through the healthy fat content. ✔💚 it lowers cholesterol levels, improves blood vessel functions and muscle joints.
My fave: fruit, greek yoghurt and almond butter topping!!😍
p.s. tesco do their own brand (and its so much cheaper and just as tasty).
What I love about buying this is that I buy it once and it lasts about 2/3 months. ✔💚great source of a 'complete' plant-based protein (complete meaning that it has the essential amino acids needed). I personal use quinoa to bulk my salads as a alternative to rice.
Oats (75p-80p per 1kg)
This is based on 1kg of oats!!! HOW AMAZING IS THAT PRICE THOUGH!?!?!?!?!
These are a classic breakfast staple, porridge doesn't have to be boring and tasteless. These days the amount of porridge-porn on Instagram has turned this sloppy breakfast into a glamorous breakfast inspo ( the glow-up is unreal!😂) Remember buying in bulk is so so much cheaper and lasts for such a long time.
Overnight oats is my all time fave💚
Butter/ Kidney/ Chickpeas (30p-50p)
Oh so cheap and incredibly versatile and healthy.
Chickpeas has a great reputation for providing a healthy fat, a plant protein power house and a healthy carbohydrate content... What can't it do?!
My favourite chickpea usage is to roast them with smoked paprika and apple cider vinegar- great as a healthy snack!!💛
Add some spice to your life😛 I sprinkle this over everything. Not only does it add flavour, and amazing smell (I mean they don't have sell out scented candles based on this smell for nothing) something so small can have so many health benefits at such little cost. ✔💚 Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helps stable blood glucose levels and fights bacteria, virus and fungal infection👍 all this from just a sprinkle onto your porridge or latte!☕
Meats and Fish
As we know protein is an essential part of the diet, with meat and fish being top sources of getting the essential amino acids. Now being on a student budget means buying a steak or salmon is unheard of (or if you're like me and cannot live without a bit of smoked salmon then it is a luxury treat once a month!) Some little tips on how to make your meat last (and buy it for cheap!).
- Buy frozen, this is the same as fruit and veggies. So much cheaper, just as nutritious ✔
- Love chicken? Buy a whole chicken (yes a whole one!) boil it for an hour, cut off the meat store in the fridge for up to a week, you have chicken ready to eat!!✔
- Tinned fish is so much cheaper than whole cuts✔
- buying meat fresh, cooking it and freezing the other portions is a really great way to have 'ready meals' and
so much cheaper!!✔
- Ever thought about using a meat substitute? Although it may seem like 'not the real thing' Quorn and tofu can actually be a lot cheaper and I promise doesn't taste too dissimilar to real meat.
Chicken (whole £2.40-£3.50)
✔💚Chicken contains B vitamins, produces and forms read blood cells and strengths the nervous systems.
I've been the biggest tuna fan since 1998✌ Honestly tuna can be incredibly versatile from literally having straight out of the tin as a snack or stuffing within other vegetables or salads. ✔💚Great protein source, low in saturated fat with high omega 3 fatty acids.
Convient, cheap and you can buy different flavour sauces! ✔💚Sardines lowers cholesterol and helps with the absorption of calcium.
Not sure what to have sardines with? Try this combo- Sardines with quinoa, avocado, spinach, mushrooms and black eyed beans with a tomato puree scramble (tastes as good as it looks!)
Fridge faves and treats!💜
Eggs (89p-£1.10 for 6)
Scrambled, poached, fried, boiled, pancakes, mug cake..... Need I go on? There is so much you can do with eggs, I am always buying a pack of 15 (much cheaper!) and they're gone buy the end of the week. it's the few ingredient that can used for literally all meals. ✔💚 Evidence shows that egg is a 'brain food' as by having a high protein breakfast means a better mental performance throughout the day (something tocondsider before exams😲🍳)
Greek Yoghurt (80p-£1)
YOU KNOW I AM A MASSIVE DESSERT PERSON! I don't think I miss a meal without having dessert FACT!
✔💚Yogurt is cheap, healthy and has great digestive and gut health benefits making it a dessert not worth missing
Remember to keep it greek and high in protein (my fave brand is Skyr or Fage)
Dark Chocolate (30p-55p)
How can I not mention chocolate? I am human after all😜🍫
I personally love dark chocolate, which as you know, in small quantities can have great health benefits. This can be consumed through powders, bars, beans or nibs. ✔💚Dark chocolate is full of good heart health, digestion and eases coughs (something a few in my lectures could take note!😒😉)
Remember to go for 70% or more to be get these benefits.
Cottage cheese (64p-£1.40) and fish sticks (95p-£1.30)
This couldn't be a Simply Martha post without me mentioning this combo!🙈
I absolutely love this combo for a snack or on the go lunch when I'm rushing around (which as a university student you do have those days!) Cottage cheese and fish sticks last for such a long time (you can even freeze the fish sticks!). ✔💚High in protein and low in fat.
Of course I could mention hundreds of other foods and other staples for the cupboard however starting off with my basics to create simple, healthy meals is a great place to start. Hopefully I also showed that healthy food doesn't cost the world nor does it have to be boring or get rid of you faves. Use my Instagram to get some everyday inspiration for some of my student meals - Simplymarthan (Instagram)
Soon everyone will wanna be eating like a student- especially if its this cheap, healthy AND tasty!
Honest and simple,
Simply Martha 🌞🌻
*Comparing the prices from Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury.