Eat well on a budget

Posted in: Money

Zoe, a psychology student gives her tips and recipes to help you to eat well on a budget:

In the hustle and bustle of day-to-day university life, maintaining a balanced diet on a budget can often feel like a daunting task, especially during exam period where planning and cooking meals is the last thing on a student’s mind. However, with a little creativity and planning, eating well is achievable and can be a rewarding experience. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of my favourite cheap recipes, offer some tips for eating well on a budget, as well as highlight the benefits of batch cooking, and utilizing your freezer.

For other tips on saving money have a look at Blackbullion.  Their website includes a budget calculator and lots of saving tips.

During the year, Student Support run a free, weekly cooking class for students to improve their cooking techniques and provide some inspiration for affordable meals. One week during 1st semester, students were taught how to cook a basic stir fry. This meal is perfect as it is a budget-friendly meal and is packed with nutrients. It is not only delicious, but also a quick and easy option for a great meal! This can also be prepped on the weekend for leftovers during the week.

Basic Stir Fry


  • Mixed vegetables
    • Such as: carrots, onions, broccoli, garlic, ginger, green onions, mushrooms etc.
  • Protein (you can include any protein you wish, regardless of dietary requirements)
    • Chicken, steak, tofu, chickpeas, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice.
  • Soy sauce (you can also include any other sauce you have in your pantry such as sesame oil and sriracha)
  • Pre-cooked egg noodles


  1. Finely chop or slice the vegetables into pieces roughly the same size.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic and ginger for 1 minute.
  3. Add all the vegetables and fry for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add soy sauce and mix well, then cook for 2-3 mins more until the vegetables are tender.
  5. At the end, add the noodles to the pan and mix before serving.

Another great dish that is easy to make after a long day of lectures is a pasta bake. It is quick, customizable, and delicious! Feel free to add or remove ingredients from the list. For example, I sometimes add mushrooms and peas for some extra nutrients.

Pasta bake


  • Any pasta shape
  • 1 container of Pasta Bake sauce (At any supermarket, you can find a variety of different pasta bake sauces. My favourites are the cheesy tomato ones)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 white onion
  • Bacon (can be removed if vegetarian or vegan, maybe add mushrooms instead)
  • Olive oil
  • Italian herbs
  • Grated Mozzarella Cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  3. Finely chop the onion, 2 streaks of bacon and the garlic cloves.
  4. In a large skillet, add the chopped bacon, chopped onion, and chopped garlic cloves.
  5. Cook over medium-high heat until brown. Set aside.
  6. Once the pasta has finished cooking, drain the pasta and put them in a large oven-friendly container.
  7. Add the bacon, the entire jar of pasta sauce, 1½ teaspoons of Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to the container with pasta and stir until well combined.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and sauce mixture.
  9. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
  10. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Batch cooking

If your university schedule is full of busy afternoons and evenings, finding time to cook a fresh and nutritious meal each night may seem like an impossible task. This is where the concept of batch cooking becomes a game-changer. On the weekend, set aside some time and make a large batch of your favourite meal. You can then put them into plastic/glass containers, keep them in the fridge and heat them up for dinner later in the week. If you have a busy night, all you need to do is reach for one of your prepared meals, quickly reheat on the stove or microwave and bon appetit!

Use your freezer

Frozen fruits and vegetables are often more affordable than fresh ones and have a longer shelf life. They're just as nutritious and can be a convenient addition to all your recipes. This can be useful for the stir-fry recipe, frozen veggies would be a perfect addition to the meal. In your next food shop, don't underestimate the power of the frozen section. Whether you're aiming to stretch your budget or reduce food waste, frozen fruits and vegetables are the solution for convenient and nutritious eating.

Eating well on a budget is not just about saving money, it's an investment in your overall wellbeing. Eating a balanced diet is crucial, especially around exam and study periods. With thoughtful planning and a few go-to recipes, you can stay healthy without compromising your financial goals. So try it out and plan your meals for next week, and embark on a journey of affordable and delicious nutrition during your university experience. Make sure to keep an eye out for the cooking classes organized for semester two on campus through Student Support, they are a great way to meet new people and cook some yummy food! Good luck and enjoy.

Posted in: Money


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