Disqus for Where Are My Knees

Guest Post - Student Eating by Emily

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Hi everyone. I’m Emily and I blog at What Emily Did Next. Many thanks to the ladies of Where Are My Knees for letting me do this guest post!

There are a lot of excuses for not eating a healthy diet when you’re a student. You’re poor, you don’t have the time, you don’t have the facilities, and you’re being offered cheap junk food each and every day. Who wants to go home to lentils and yoghurt when there’s someone outside the library offering you a flyer for a £1.99 pizza?

In my first year of uni, I lived on a diet of takeout, canteen dinners, prepackaged wraps, bacon sandwiches, and vodka. Sometimes I would cook the bacon on a George Foreman grill instead of frying it in a pan, and this was considered the epitome of healthy eating. Canteen dinners were all stodge, cheese and chips. There was a salad bar, complete with some sad, lifeless lettuce, and a bowl of grated cheese to sprinkle on top. Unsurprisingly, I gained weight. My weight was never a huge issue, and I don’t have an inspirational weight loss story to share with you today, but I felt awful. I was spotty and my jeans were too tight. By the time I was in my second year, I had moved out of halls and was ready to start eating properly. It wasn’t always easy, and I won’t pretend that I haven’t touched a pizza and chips since, but now I make a conscious effort to eat things that are good for me. The most surprising thing I discovered was that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. I tracked down the nearest greengrocer and butcher, so I was able to stock up on super cheap lean meat and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Here are some recipes that I found were easy, cheap and healthy – the holy trinity for student food. As a bonus, they’re all delicious as well.

Sweetcorn fritters. I know they don’t sound like the most delicious thing in the world, but bear with me. How much does a tin of sweetcorn cost in the supermarket? About 50p? You probably have one hanging around in the back of the cupboard. Mix it with a few other staple ingredients, fry it with a little bit of oil, and there you have it: an unusual, elegant and easy dinner. If your budget doesn’t stretch to an avocado, go without.

Red lentil dahl. I know that lentils might sound like scary, flavourless hippy food, but I absolutely love this recipe. If you can find a continental store near you, you can probably buy a wheelbarrow full of lentils for pennies, but even buying a bag from the supermarket is sure to be well within your budget. The addition of Indian spices adds a huge amount of flavour. This is perfect on its own, or as an accompaniment to a meal.

Thai style turkey burgers. These burgers are delicious, fresh tasting and just a little bit spicy. Ask about minced turkey at the butcher, or look out for offers in the supermarket. A great idea would be to make the burgers and then freeze them, so that you can take it out of the freezer in the morning and have a tasty meal to come home to in the evening.

Finally, here are a few tips I was given that came in very handy:

  • Never underestimate the power of batch cooking. When you have a spare afternoon, make a huge pan of chilli, curry, soup or a stew, freeze it into individual portions (use the Tupperware your Chinese takeout came in, or freezer bags), and you’re never more than five minutes in the microwave away from a decent meal.

  • If you’ve got a long day in uni, take a packed lunch. It will be cheaper and healthier than a sandwich from the union shop, and probably taste better too. You might get a few funny looks when you get out a hummus wrap and a banana in the library, but who cares!

  • If your uni gym has subsidised membership, join! You may never find a gym as cheap ever again.

    1. I'm going to Uni in September and some of these tips are brilliant! University food is going to be something I will have to get into the habit of to do it properly!
      Thank you for this !
      Issy xox


      1. Glad you found it useful! I say enjoy the booze and junk food on occasion, just don't go as mental as I did! :)

    2. I completely agree with you that it's hard to eat healthy when you're a student, although its not impossible. When I lived on campus I ate nothing but pasta and takeaways which ended up in me putting on most of the weight I lost before starting uni. Since I've been living in rented accommodation I've been making more of an effort to cook real food and eat healthily. Admittedly I still eat a lot more rubbish than I should, but more often than not that ends up being more expensive than eating healthy food. For me that hardest thing is having the effort to cook healthy meals when it's been a long day or if I'm stuck in a rut, especially with takeaways handing out student deals to you left right and centre! 

      1. It's definitely easier when you have your own kitchen, or one that you only share with a few housemates. Trying to cook a decent meal in a shared kitchen can be pretty grotesque! Takeaway deals are pretty hard to resist so I always made sure to have a meal planned - I hate wasting food so the idea of having to throw something out would be enough to put me off having the takeaway.

    3. Great post! Eating healthily on a budget is always hard and so easy to falter. Red lentil dahl sounds delicious - need to make some. I always agree with batch cooking too - so useful and you'll be thanking yourself when you can't be bothered to make something fancy and can pop that in the microwave.

      1. Thanks! Lentil dahl is so good, you should definitely make some! The only problem with batch cooking is that you're not supposed to keep some stuff in the freezer for too long - though I think I lived off one batch of chilli for an entire academic year and it never did me any harm haha :)

    4. Great advice!


    5. It looks like the links to the recipes didn't work - here they are for anyone who wants them!

      The BBC Good Food website is actually a godsend for finding tasty & healthy recipes!

    6. New Diet Taps into Pioneering Plan to Help Dieters Lose 15 Pounds in Only 21 Days!