Musings & Contemplations

Student Meal Planner – How to budget and What to cook!

It’s that time of year again where students, new and old, pack up from their summer holidays and head off to university. For the brand new ‘Freshers’ this can be an exciting and daunting life changing event, for those returning it can be a chance to wipe slates clean, reunite with friends and take the next step in their journey.

For most, money is one of the most forefront issues when it comes to student life. In my first year I remember doing a £5 weekly food shop consisting of a loaf of bread, a bag of cheap apples, a pack of rich tea biscuits, budget orange squash and some wafer thin ham. I made it for 3 days on ham sandwiches and weak squash before giving in and spending next weeks budget on a burger and a pint in the pub! Quickly realising that this strategy was not going to work!

For tips on how a £5 food budget really feels check out my live below the line challenge. Then you will think twice before putting food at the bottom of your budget!

uni fairies

Money was spent on costumes instead of lentils! (I’m in the middle…yes I was blonde!)

By my third year I had discovered cheap ingredients and a desire to cook well and eat healthy. Lentils, beans, potatoes and pasta became my best friends and the local market (Leicester Market is one of the best!!) provided me with cheap bananas, carrots, onions, apples etc. I also came to love my store cupboard basics which can be bought cheap and make a meal go that extra mile, such as canned tomatoes and frozen peas!

Meal planning is key to successfully living on a budget. By planning to cook a few different meals with the ingredients you buy it means you don’t have to buy a wide variety of different things (which gets expensive). Bulk cooking means you can always have a quick meal and also means you use everything you buy, so no wastage!

Here are some example of cheap meals that can get you through the week on a limited budget:

Breakfast-
Porridge is great as its super cheap, filling and you can add anything you want to it!
Eggs are also a great source of protein and a two egg omelette will get you through to lunch.
Pancakes are a treat but the ingredients are so cheap, add fruit from the market to bulk it up.
Fruit Salad – raid the market at the end of the day for bargains and chop them all up for a delicious salad.
Baked Beans on toast

Lunch –
Pasta is an obvious one, buy a huge bag and make your own sauces with canned tomatoes.
Soup is another one that really got me through, an onion, celery, carrots, dried herbs and canned tomatoes with stock can make up to 8 portions and is really filling.
Falafel are really easy to make and again are cheap ingredients, have them with some veg and a wrap.
Jacket potatoes can be filled with delicious but cheap dishes like chilli, baked beans and cheese.

Dinner –
Tomato based curries are great with budget friendly rice.
Pasta bakes and lasagnas can be portioned up and frozen, or shared between flat mates!
Stirfries are great to use up any veg that is going limp in the fridge
One pot dishes like jambalaya, stews and beany bakes are all also perfect!
Make your own wedges instead of buying oven chips, potatoes can be picked up cheaply and its much more healthy.

My top ingredients for eating simply yet healthy on a budget and some recipes you can cook with them are =

Lentils

Curried Puy Lentils

Curried Puy Lentils

Brown Rice and Lentil Jambalaya (GF, Vegan)

Brown Rice and Lentil Jambalaya (GF, Vegan)

Mushroom and Lentil Cottage Pie with a Root Veg Mash

Mushroom and Lentil Cottage Pie with a Root Veg Mash

Beans

Rainbow Veggie Chilli (gf)

Rainbow Veggie Chilli (gf)

Lightly spiced Falafel (GF)

Lightly spiced Falafel (GF)

Mexican Style Beany Baked Eggs

Mexican Style Beany Baked Eggs

Potato

Spring Veg Hot Pot

Spring Veg Hot Pot

Jacket Potato

Jacket Potato

Apple and Potato Cakes

Apple and Potato Cakes

Pasta

Pumpkin and Greens Lasagna with a Butterbean Sauce

Pumpkin and Greens Lasagna with a Butterbean Sauce

Tomato and Fennel Pasta Sauce

Tomato and Fennel Pasta Sauce

DSC_2313

A huge thank you to Jane for emailing me suggesting Student food as a topic. What a great idea! If anyone has anything they want me to write about or any recipes they would like to see please let me know! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Student Meal Planner – How to budget and What to cook!

  1. Thanks Becky ! Next challenge for me is to get my daughter to have a go at the cooking before she heads off to uni:-)

I love hearing what you all have to say!

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