A recent study into the diets of British undergraduates found that just 19% of students had “favourable eating behaviours”, while almost a third had “mixed” or “risky” eating behaviours.
This isn’t surprising. A student timetable of constant studying and regular social events doesn’t always allow for that much time in the kitchen, and a student budget can feel very limiting.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of not knowing what or how to cook – your first weeks at university may be the first time you’ve had to cook for yourself on a regular basis. It’s vital, however, that you do your best to eat well.
Not only is your general health and wellbeing greatly affected by your diet, but research has shown that students are able to learn better when they’re well nourished, and eating healthy meals has been linked to higher grades, better memory and alertness, and faster information processing.
To help keep you at your healthy best, below are five easy and cheap meals that are sure to give you a nutrient boost. Links to recipes are included and all of the meals can be made vegan. Enjoy!
Incredibly quick, uses just one pan, and requires little to no culinary skill – it’s no wonder it’s a student classic!
All you really need is one vegetable stock cube, a tin of chopped tomatoes, and a pack of frozen vegetables. Peas and carrots work very well and are a powerhouse of antioxidants and nutrients. Carrots in particular are rich in vitamin A, essential for good vision (so you can see in the dark!) and healthy skin. Peas are rich in vitamins C and K, which support the immune system and bone health.
See here for a recipe.
A chickpea curry is great if you want to use some spices. First, fry some onion and garlic. Then you add a good amount of cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Add a little water and pour in the chickpeas. Give it all a good stir and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with bread or rice.
Garlic is a good source of vitamin B6, which helps the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates, and there have been some studies which suggest that garlic can help stave off the common cold. Chickpeas, like beans and lentils, are high in protein and fiber, which helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood.
For a full recipe, see here.
Risottos are objectively delicious. All you need for a mushroom risotto is an onion, some stock, risotto rice and some mushrooms. Add some mixed herbs for extra flavour and, if you have a little extra cash, splash out on some pine nuts and sprinkle them on at the end.
Mushrooms are another excellent source of fiber, protein, iron, and cremini mushrooms in particular are one of the few food sources of vitamin D.
Check out a recipe here.
If you’re bored of making the same old tomato or tuna pasta, try adding pesto sauce instead to shake things up a bit. You can also buy vegan pesto from the ‘Free From’ aisle in most big supermarkets.
Throw in some plum tomatoes and sliced cucumber after you’ve drained the water from the pasta and heat through for a minute to give a wider variety of colours and flavours.
Tomatoes are high in vitamins C, A, and K, and contain lycopene which is thought to protect our immune cells.
You can find a recipe here.
Roast vegetables do not need to be a side dish! Chop up your favourite vegetables into medium-sized chunks and place on a lightly oiled tray. Potato, butternut squash, beetroot, courgette, aubergine, parsnips – they all roast beautifully.
Sprinkle with sage or thyme and leave to roast for 30 mins - 40 mins while you finish that assignment. Cover with spinach toward the end and splash on some balsamic vinegar if you have some. This is absolutely wonderful dished up with a big spoonful of hummus.
Don’t forget the spinach – dark leafy greens are a fantastic source of iron, essential for transporting oxygen around the body.
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