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Maintaining a healthy lifestyle on a budget is always a challenge – but it’s not impossible. Great savings are as much about being prepared as they are about finding the perfect deals and discounts. With a few good principles in place, eating well doesn’t have to blow the budget.
Start cooking for yourself
There’s no better way to make sure that everything you’re eating includes only the ingredients that are best for you. The BBC have a huge list of healthy recipes of varying difficulties to get you started, and with a few solid recipes under your belt, it becomes easy to ensure you’re always eating meals with as few added sugars or preservatives as possible.
Buy loose items and do the prep!
Convenient pre-cut and pre-packaged items always generally cost more than loose fruit and veg – because someone had to chop and package them! With a bit more confidence in the kitchen, prepping your own food won’t seem like such a chore. Save yourself some cash by selecting the loose fruit and vegetables, or those that are not already pre-cut. The same goes for the deli counter, where the selection of processed meats will be a lot cheaper than those conveniently packaged in the other aisles.
Don’t shop hungry, and always have a list
Shopping when you’re starving is definitely setting yourself up for failure – every snack will seem doubly delicious, and you’ll end up with lots of extras you don’t need! Make sure you have a list, or try an app like Out of Milk to keep you on track.
Buy in season
Eating more seasonally is a great way to eat more cheaply – when things are in season, they will be more available, and therefore more affordable. Trying to buy mangoes or pineapples in the middle of winter is a lot more expensive than it’s worth, and eating seasonally will mean that you can eat the best and most natural produce at the right time of year.
Buy in bulk
Step one: have a great freezer! Buy items in bulk, cook them and freeze in smaller chunks in order to save yourself a lot of time and money. This way, you’ve got healthy portions of soups, sauces and more on hand for when you’re too lazy to prepare meals from scratch. Buying in bulk doesn’t always come out cheaper, but it’s worth being prepared to take advantage of any great deals that come your way. Costco is the chain of bulk buying, so investigate and see what more you can get on your dime.
Following up from buying in bulk, it’s important not to waste the extra food you’ve stocked up on. Don’t let your money go to waste – make the most of every extra that you don’t consume! This is all about storage and re-use. Store your leftovers properly – the NHS has a great guide to ensure you always store extras safely. Eating smaller portions is great, but sometimes it can help to cook more at once and store bulk extras. It is all much cheaper than ready-meals or take away, when you’re feeling a little lazy, and also means you can take advantage of having bought in bulk upfront.
Sign up for a loyalty programme
Make more out of every purchase. Loyalty cards are great for helping you make the most of your purchasing power – whether it’s accruing points, getting freebies or special offers, etc. For a great list of bargains and offers to reduce your check out sum, take a look at Student Money Saver’s list of supermarket deals. But make sure you don’t let loyalty cloud your judgement – always look out for good deals in different chains at different times. Don’t dull the bargain hunting instinct!
There are plenty of ways to ensure your health doesn’t come at the cost of your bank balance, and with the high cost of living in the UK, these tips can help you on your way to managing that budget. Don’t miss out on the fun extras in life! If you get used to cooking up large meals, having healthy leftovers for lunch the next day, and reducing waste, you will save money, time, and eat better.
Student Money Saver is the go-to student website in the UK for student advice, banter, discounts, freebies, and more. Essentially everything student!