Sunday, 4 October 2015

Student Cooking on A Budget

As a student (and a mother) I know how hard it can be to cook on a budget. You want to stay healthy and not eat rubbish but at the same time you want to have good quality meals on the table. I mean, you can’t eat beans on toast every night can you? No…you can’t, trust me! What we tend to do is eat quite cheaply in the week and then splash out a bit at weekends. I am lucky because I do work, and although we not exactly millionaires, we do have a decent-sized budget for our food. However, that was not always the case. I have learned how to eat cheaply, and eat well – as a student and beyond. What you will find below are some key tips to eating well on a budget. If you look after the pennies then the pounds really do take care of themselves.

1.       Meal Plan

I do this every week. Write a list of a few main meals, and write a list of ingredients. Include some salads for lunch, cereal or whatever for breakfast and other essentials. The sentence “write a list” makes it sound so simple, but trust me, you can save a lot of money by doing this. If you have a list you will be less likely to veer off with random expensive purchases and more likely to stick with what you have planned for.

2.       Simple Food

You don’t have to eat complicated meals every night. Good old chips, egg and sausage is always a great healthy midweek meal. Grab lower fat sausages and chuck some mushrooms in there and you are well on your way to a perfect nutritious and cheap tea. Sometimes we use veggies sausages – this keeps the cost, and the saturated fat down – winner! If you are studying you might find that you are also short on time to cook – keep it simple and you can’t go wrong.

3.       Grasp the Basics

Have a few easy, cheap meals in your repertoire. I make a basic pasta sauce that can go with most things. Tinned tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, tomato puree, onions. Fry all together and leave to simmer for an hour. You can use this for pasta dishes, chicken dishes or even as a base for a soup. It is cheap and full of yummy goodness. Chuck in some kidney beans or mushrooms for extra texture.

4.       Freeze Things

We often buy in bulk and freeze as we go. Bread can be bought cheap and frozen. We buy frozen peas and always have fish fingers and waffles in for emergency meals! Make use of your freezer, it can save you a small fortune! You can even freeze any pasta sauces that you make up beforehand and just defrost in the morning to heat up later that night. Convenient and cheap, especially if you cook in batches!

5.       Batch Cooking 

Grab one of your favourite curry, soup or stew recipes and batch cook. Spend a Sunday buying cheap vegetables and ingredients in bulk, invest in some Tupperware and get to work. Not only will you save cash but you will be making life a lot easier for yourself.

Cheap, fresh home-cooked food FTW!

Looking after your money is very important at all stages of your life, not just when you are a student. If you need a new bank account might be worth checking out TSB for the range of services that they offer. They also have a Savvy Student page that has lots of info for you!

Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with TSB. All words and views are my own.

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