Cheap and healthy student meal ideas

16 Jan 2019
Cheap and healthy food

Lydia Green and Jack Hardwicke run an Instagram channel dedicated to making cheap and healthy meals to maintain a balanced lifestyle whilst at uni. Here are their top tips to inspire you to a healthy 2019!

University is great for meeting new friends, trying out new opportunities, having fun and enjoying a new type of independence…BUT independence also comes with responsibility. The mammoth task of ‘leading a healthy lifestyle’ is both vague and often overlooked, and we think this is really important.

Taking care of yourself comes with a heap of new tasks and we both understand how this can be overwhelming and challenging having experienced it first-hand. If done right, the transition from home to university can be rewarding, and teach you more than just how to wash your clothes and brush up on your cooking skills (we promise!)

In our student fellow project this year, our mission was to offer advice to make students’ lives healthier and cheaper. So, without further ado, we have decided our top 5 rules of leading a successful and healthy year (and even added in one of our recipes to get you started).

1. Buy frozen and tinned food as much as you can

Doing this can save you a whole load of money and will last you for ages, so you aren’t rushing to use all your fresh food. This is great for things like frozen chicken, frozen veg and tinned sweetcorn.


2. Prepare food in advance – making large batches or even if it’s just lunch for the next day

Make up large batches of bolognese and freeze in Tupperware for a more nutritious microwave meal. Also, try to make a healthy packed lunch, saves the money being spent out and about and means if you make something, you are more likely to eat it!


3. Remember the little tricks that make a big difference

For example, swap white bread for brown bread, cut the fat off the bacon before cooking, use spray oil rather than from the bottle, use Greek yoghurt as an alternative to mayonnaise.

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#uowcheapandhealthy Preparing dinner and lunch for next day with same ingredients to save time and money

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4. Make sure there is something colourful or ‘from the ground’ in every meal you eat

The more colourful the better, you will get the vitamins and minerals that you NEED.

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#uowcheapandhealthy (not so cheap)

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5. Prioritise time to be active

This is crucial to your physical and mental health and will motivate you to be productive and effective in whatever you choose to do at university. Whether you sign up to the gym, take part in the Get Active scheme, join a sports society or do your own thing, make it enjoyable and not a chore.


How to: A cheap and healthy twist to spaghetti bolognese


  • 500g Mince ( 5% fat option )
  • 2x Peppers
  • Optional additions can use all of these or just one.
  • Courgette
  • Carrot
  • Sweetcorn
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomato Passata (Supermarket own brand to save money without compromising taste)
  • 2x Garlic gloves
  • Dried mixed Italian herbs (buying them mixed together saves money rather than buying herbs fresh and/or individually)
  • Sunflower oil, Olive oil or coconut oil spray
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole wheat spaghetti

Key stats:

  • Time: 30mins
  • Serving Size of sauce: 4
  • Rough cost: £5


  1. Chop up the onions, peppers and any other optional vegetables
  2. Heat up a saucepan or large frying pan with a small amount of the selected cooking oil
  3. Fry the onions first on a medium-low heat
  4. Once the onions have softened, add the mince, peppers and any other vegetables
  5. At this point put water on to boil in another saucepan for the pasta
  6. Once the mince has browned – add the garlic, herbs and tomato passata and allow to simmer on a medium low-heat
  7. Weigh out the pasta for the serving size and add to the boiling water
  8. Add salt and pepper to the bolognese sauce whilst simmering, and continue to stir the sauce
  9. Once the pasta has finished, drain it and plate up!

Why we love this meal:

This recipe makes a more than one serving from the sauce, let the leftovers cool down and either freeze in a suitable container to repeat the meal on another day OR leave to chill in the fridge and use the following day. It can be easily adapted to become a chilli or could be had over a jacket potato.

To stay in the loop follow @uowcheapandhealthy on Instagram.

What are you favourite cheap and healthy meals to make? Let us know in the comments below.

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