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Healthy Student Meals: how to eat well on a budget

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Healthy student meals

Eating well shouldn’t have to break the bank, find out here how you can eat well on a budget, plus, find our FREE downloadable nutritional guidance E-Book at the end of the article!

Tips to Plan Budget-Friendly Student Meals

meals should involve around 15 to 30 grams of protein to ensure you stay full for longer. This lowers the chances of snacking and spending more money. When focusing on building muscle these numbers rise slightly to between 20 to 40 grams of protein per meal.

#1 Plan Your Meals in Advance

One of the smartest ways to eat healthily student meals on a budget is to plan your meals in advance. Crafting a weekly meal plan will not only save you money but also time and stress. Here's how to do it:

  • Create a Weekly Meal Plan: Outline what you'll eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the week

  • Build a Shopping List: Based on your meal plan, make a shopping list of the ingredients you need. Be specific with alternatives in case items are not in stock and stick to this list to avoid unnecessary expenses.

Side note: Eating out or ordering takeout regularly can deplete your finances. Cooking at home not only saves you money but also allows you to control ingredients and portions.

  • Invest in essential kitchen equipment

  • Learn a few simple recipes to get started

#2 Buy in Bulk for Affordable Student Dining

Stretch your budget further by purchasing staple foods in bulk. Look for items such as rice, pasta, beans, and canned vegetables in larger quantities. Many stores offer discounts on bulk purchases, which can provide long-term savings.

Easy student meals can be created with bulk buying if you have a slow cooker just add ingredients such as potatoes, vegetables, and meat. Cook throughout the day then store remaining food in containers in the fridge or freezer to have at another time.

Cooking one large dish that can be divided into many meals will save you money and will allow for more time studying. Pop the meal from the fridge into the microwave to heat or enjoy cold depending on the dish!

#3 Incorporate Frozen and Canned Foods

While fresh produce is fantastic, it can be expensive and perish quickly. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are wallet-friendly alternatives. Plus, they're convenient and have a longer shelf life.

Excellent for vegetarian student meal plans as fresh fruit and vegetables often go to waste. A tip is to choose frozen fruits for smoothies, and if you are trying to build muscle canned meat provides high-quality, protein-rich food.

Simply opening a can of vegetables or steaming a bag of frozen vegetables is quick and easy. One affordable canned item that’s great to have on hand? Beans! Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber and can add bulk to your meals that help keep you full.

If you choose fresh produce purchase whole items to cut up when you get back to your room. Pre-cut fruits and vegetables typically cost much more this is also the case with meat that is diced.

Cheap student meals

#4 Minimising Food Waste on a Student's Budget

Wasting food is like throwing money away. To minimize food waste:

  • Repurpose Leftovers Creatively: Transform last night's dinner into a sandwich or wrap for lunch.

  • Store Food Properly: Keep perishables in the fridge or freezer to extend their shelf life.

  • Be Mindful of Expiration Dates: Use older ingredients first to prevent spoilage.

#5 Stay Hydrated with Affordable Student Drinks

Invest in a reusable water bottle and fill it up from the tap instead of buying expensive sugary drinks or bottled water.

Water is not only healthier but also much cheaper.

#6 Utilise Student Discounts Where You Can

When shopping or treating yourself to a takeaway, shop around for stores offering student discounts and avail of these student benefits! Check out sites like StudentBeans, Unidays, and GradLife for online student discounts. These sights offer great discounts for some of the UK’s most popular brands, you can save on things such as Food, Tech, Clothing and so much more! Anytime you are going to buy anything be sure to check for student discounts before to save as much as possible.

Eating well on a student budget is achievable with a bit of planning and creativity. By following the tips and trying out these budget-friendly meal ideas, you can maintain a healthy diet without straining your finances.

#7 Think About Where You Shop

When shopping around for the best deals be sure to start off at grocery stores such as Lidl, Aldi, and Asda.

You should sign up for the free loyalty schemes available at most supermarkets to gain discounts. A great store for this is Tesco which offers the Tesco Clubcard it is quick and easy to set up and you will save money on a range of items.

When shopping for fresh produce Farm Foods can offer affordable prices and when purchasing frozen foods check out Iceland. Always shop around for the best prices to save as much money as possible.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

It can be easy to neglect meal times, whether it is out of budget implications or laziness. So these are some reasons why you should always incorporate your 3 meals a day and make them worthwhile.


Breakfast plays a crucial role in providing your body with the necessary energy and nutrients to start your day on the right foot.

  • Energy Boost: After a night's sleep, your body's energy reserves are depleted. Breakfast replenishes energy stores, giving you the stamina and alertness needed to tackle daily tasks.

  • Improved Concentration: A nutritious breakfast helps enhance your mental focus and concentration.

  • Blood Sugar Control: Breakfast helps regulate blood sugar levels, preventing mid-morning energy crashes and unhealthy snacking. When you eat in the morning, it stabilises your blood sugar, reducing the likelihood of cravings for sugary or unhealthy foods later on.

Consuming a protein-based breakfast provides:

  • Satiety: Protein is known to be highly satiating, meaning it helps you feel full and satisfied. This can prevent overeating later in the day, supporting weight management goals.

  • Muscle Maintenance: Protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth. Consuming it in the morning can assist in maintaining and building lean muscle mass.

Meals for students


  • Energy Continuation: After your morning activities, your body needs a midday boost to maintain energy levels. A nutritious lunch provides this, helping you stay productive throughout the afternoon.

  • Stress Reduction: Skipping lunch or opting for an unhealthy meal can lead to increased stress levels. Taking a break to eat a satisfying lunch can help reduce stress and promote mental well-being.

Consuming a protein-based lunch provides:

  • Steady Energy: Protein provides a sustained source of energy, helping you stay focused and alert throughout the afternoon.

  • Metabolism Boost: The thermic effect of protein means your body burns more calories during digestion and metabolism, potentially supporting weight management goals.


Dinner is often the final meal of the day especially if you are on a tight student budget, and it's essential to make the meal both satisfying and nutritious.

  • Recovery: After a day of activities, your body needs nutrients to repair and recover. Dinner plays a role in muscle recovery and tissue repair, especially if you've been physically active during the day.

  • Appetite Control: A satisfying dinner can prevent late-night snacking and overeating, which is crucial for weight management and better sleep.

  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Eating a balanced dinner helps stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of nighttime energy fluctuations.

Consuming a protein-based dinner provides:

  • Better Sleep: A balanced dinner, including protein, can contribute to a more restful night's sleep.

  • Muscle Repair and Growth: Protein supports muscle repair, growth, and maintenance, especially important if you're physically active.

  • Metabolism Support: The thermic effect of protein means your body burns more calories during digestion and metabolism, potentially aiding in weight management.

One last tip for getting the most flavor from your cheap student meals is to have spices and seasonings on hand. Purchase some chili flakes, cajun, paprika, garlic powder, and of course salt & pepper.

Prioritizing your health through your food choices will not only benefit your well-being but also support your success in your student journey.

Download Your Free Nutritional Guidance Booklet Here

No email is required, simply press download now and you can have nutritional guidance and even a shopping list right away to start your journey to a more healthy you.

Before You Go…

In the world of food, there are so many unhealthy options, often leading individuals away from their goals and causing setbacks. So take action and choose the healthy alternatives more often.

By focusing on evidence-based practices, you can make informed decisions, create a more effective meal plan, and achieve better results. Remember, consistency, patience, and a holistic approach are the keys to success on your health journey.

If you need help with your nutrition, get in touch with us here at Infinity Performance to find out more about nutrition coaching.


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