Cooking food at home can be both cheaper and healthier than buying from restaurants, especially as a student. This guide will give you all the tools you need to get started with a healthy and balanced student meal plan, including weekly meal prep, smart shopping, and what to cook as a student on a budget. Before we begin, let’s take a look at what makes an ideal student meal plan, followed by some cheap student meal ideas that will power you through the academic year!
1. Student Weekly Meal Plan
There are few things more enjoyable than eating good food that was prepared by your own hands. As students, we know how hard it is to get meals together while balancing work, school and social obligations. When you buy your weekly groceries for your student household, take one afternoon or evening and plan out your meals for all seven days. This way you can get creative with leftovers throughout the week! To make meal planning easier, keep lists of common ingredients like milk, bread and vegetables near your kitchen – that way you’ll never run out of your essentials.
2. Smart Shopping
Getting smart about what you’re buying is one of the best ways to save money when cooking. The easiest way to do this is by shopping in budget supermarkets. Bid farewell to your smaller more expensive supermarkets and pop into an Asda, Aldi or Lidl. At these cheaper supermarkets, you will still be able to purchase your favourite products but at a discounted price. Go a step further and ditch big well-known brands. Opt for own brand products instead. Let’s be honest, not even Gordon Ramsay can tell the difference between Asda’s 29p Smart Price Pasta Shapes and a box of Napolina’s £1 Penne. Buying cheaper alternatives is not the only way to save your pennies. Consider buying in bulk. Although a 5kg bag of oats may seem a tad excessive at first, if porridge is your go-to breakfast, you will soon find that you are saving money per 100g. So always check the price per 100g and consider buying and paying a bit more to save more on your cupboard staples. The more organized you are, the more savvy your spending habits will be, saving you money every time you shop.
3. Cook Social Meals with Friends
Cooking with friends isn’t just fun, it can also be a way to save and share household costs. Consider splitting your shop with flatmates or friends. By planning your meals in advance and buying in bulk, you can make huge savings. Also, start hosting instead of eating out. As lovely as your local brunch spot may be, eating at home will be much kinder to your wallet. But, don’t feel like you cannot socialize because you are on a budget. Cook for your friends or host a potluck. There are plenty of student meal recipes that will wow your guests without breaking the bank. You can still have fun with your friends counting your pennies.
4. Student Meal Prep for the Week
Student meal prep is an easy way to save time and money each week. For example, if you plan your meals ahead of time, you can focus on other things , like your studies, as your meal heats up in the microwave.Additionally, prepping meals for later in the week can help you stick with healthy eating habits since there’s less temptation available during busy work days when everyone around you is ordering takeaways. So make a student weekly meal plan with your favourite cheap eats before a food shop so you know what meals you need to prepare. Then allocate time to do some batch cooking. Even if you aren’t keen to eat the same thing multiple times a week, you can always pop a couple of meals in the freezer for a later date.
5. Budget Student Meal Ideas
Looking to start a student weekly meal plan but haven’t got any ideas? Fear not, here are our top 10 best meals to cook as a student on a budget.
- 1. Cheap as Chips Veggie Pizza: A cheap student meal alternative to a Domino’s Two For Tuesdays.
- 2. Vegan Caper Puttanesca : A delicious Italian classic made from store cupboard staples.
- 3. Biscoff Microwave Mug Cake: A decadent, fuss-free treat.
- 4. Cheesy Sausage and Mash Pie:The ultimate comfort food for a cold winter evening.
- 5. Fish Cakes with Minty Peas and Spinach: A light, healthy lunch perfect for a day of lectures.
- 6. Chicken and Hummus Wraps:The on-the-go packed lunch.
- 7. For-the-freezer Ratatouille:Perfect for batch student meal prep.
- 8. No-fuss Shepherd’s Pie:A simple household favourite.
- 9. 5-a-day Tagine:Meet your daily vegetable quota all in one dish.
- 10. One-pot Chicken & Bacon Stew:A hearty meal that saves you washing up.
6. Follow Our Budget Tips to Help You Save Money!
Cooking student meals on a budget needn’t be hard. By planning and prepping your meals in advance, shopping smart and splitting costs, it has never been easier to enjoy cooking as a broke student. Thanks to a diverse range of student meal recipes, cooking has never been more accessible. Now drop those instant noodles and start cooking cheaper and healthier student meals. Are you finding it hard to keep to your budget at university? Check out our blog on how to take charge of your finances as a student.