Healthy Student Meals & How to Meal Prep On A Budget
Looking for some healthy student meals on a budget that you can prepare in advance? We've got you covered...
With the start of a new year typically comes renewed efforts to cut back on spending and prepare more healthy, home cooked meals, and as a student you may be looking for inspiration for healthy meals on a budget.
Eating out and grocery shopping make up a significant portion of monthly living expenses for students, with Save The Student’s National Student Money Survey 2022 finding that UK students spend on average £116 per month on groceries and £49 on takeaways and eating out.
If you can relate to this and you're looking to cut back on costs, you’ll be pleased to hear this isn’t difficult.
You may even be looking for meals you can batch cook to save both time and money, so below we’ll provide some healthy student recipes that you can meal prep.
First though, let’s take a look at what exactly meal prepping is and how you can do it effectively.
What is meal prep?
Meal prep is essentially planning and preparing meals in advance, splitting these into portions and storing them in your fridge or freezer so that you have a number of ready-made meals to grab-and-go without having to cook something from scratch each time.
The whole purpose of meal prepping is to save you both time and money by cooking recipes in batches rather than preparing just one or two servings at a time which can create both food waste and be more costly.
Remember, as a TOTUM member you can get an exclusive 10% student discount at the Co-op, which means fantastic savings on your weekly food shop. Shop all of the ingredients for these healthy student budget meals at a fraction of the price with your TOTUM card.
How to meal prep as a student
If you’re a university student sharing a home with multiple other students, you'll probably know the fridge/freezer space struggle - we’ve all been there, especially in student halls.
For this reason, we’d recommend meal prepping for a week at a time to avoid having an overflow of tupperware boxes with nowhere to store them!
Before beginning the meal prep process, you’ll want to consider the following:
How many different recipes do I want to prepare?
How many portions of each recipe do I want to make?
What ingredients do I need to buy before I begin cooking?
To keep things super simple, we’d recommend starting off by prepping two different recipes and making four servings of each - leaving you with eight prepared meals in total.
This way, you can keep two portions of each recipe in the fridge for up to four days and store the remaining four portions in your freezer, ready to be defrosted whenever you like.
We’d also recommend making one of the recipes suitable for lunchtimes and the other for dinners, this way you can switch up which meal you need to cook for each day and which you can simply heat up. You might fancy having both lunch and dinner prepared for a few days - in which case keep all eight servings in the fridge (if you have the space) and that’s two of your daily meals sorted for four days!
Choose the best day for you to shop your ingredients and prepare your meals and you’re good to go.
Healthy student meals to prep
Now that you know how to meal prep, here are some of the best healthy student budget meals to prepare.
Slow Cooker Honey BBQ Pulled Chicken Wraps
These honey barbecue pulled chicken wraps are ideal to pair with sweet potato fries and veg of your choice to make a nutritious, tasty meal.
Suitable for both lunch and dinner, these are full of flavour, high in protein and easy to reheat.
Using a slow cooker, you can easily batch cook this delicious pulled chicken ready to be reheated when needed and added to your tortilla wraps.
To make four servings, all you’ll need is:
600g chicken breast
50g barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon garlic puree
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon each of barbecue seasoning and paprika
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (not essential!)
It couldn’t be easier to make this dish, all you need to do is add the chicken breasts to your slow cooker, followed by the passata, barbecue sauce, honey, soy sauce and vinegar.
Next, add your garlic puree, paprika and barbecue seasoning before mixing together and cooking on high with the lid on for four hours.
Then, use two forks to shred the chicken and continue cooking without the lid for a further half an hour so that the sauce thickens up.
And there you have it - your delicious pulled chicken, ready to be added to tortilla wraps whenever you fancy.
You can store this in tupperware in the fridge for three to four days.
Creamy Veggie Sausage Pasta
Whether you’re a long-term vegetarian or gradually trying to cut your meat intake, this veggie sausage pasta is great for all and is an excellent healthy student budget meal.
To make four servings, you’ll need:
8 vegetarian sausages of your choice
75g penne pasta per person (or serving)
300g broccoli, cut into small florets
200g chopped mushrooms
1 diced white onion
2 handfuls of either spinach or kale
40g plain flour
100g grated cheddar cheese
First, cook your sausages as per the instructions on the pack while boiling your pasta for 12 minutes.
In one frying pan, add a little olive oil with the diced onion, mushrooms and broccoli florets along with seasoning and fry over a low to medium heat until soft.
Next, in a separate saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat and add the flour once melted, cooking for 2-3 minutes and stirring constantly. Add the milk gradually a little at a time, stirring between each addition. Once all the milk has been added, increase the heat slightly and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, cooking for a further 2-3 minutes until thickened before seasoning to taste and adding the grated cheese.
Remove the sauce from the heat, add your cooked veggie sausages to the frying pan along with the softened onion, mushrooms and broccoli and add some spinach or kale.
Add the cooked pasta to the frying pan along with the cheesy sauce, stir everything together then serve.
This meal is packed full of veggies and can be stored in the fridge for three to four days.
Red Lentil Soup
If you’re looking for a warming but light lunch, this red lentil soup will become your go-to meal of choice.
Taking just half an hour in total to prepare and cook, you’ll want to make this a staple of your weekly meal prep.
With minimal ingredients, this soup - which is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans - is the ideal healthy lunch for those on a student budget.
To make four servings, you’ll need:
2 finely diced white onions
6 garlic cloves
4 carrots, diced
170g red lentils
2 vegetable stock cubes
First, boil two litres of water in a kettle whilst you dice the onions, carrots and slice the garlic.
Once boiled, heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a pan and add the onion, frying for two minutes until softened. Next, add the garlic and carrots to the pan and fry briefly. Add the two litres of boiling water to the pan along with the lentils and stock cubes, covering and cooking over a medium heat for 15 minutes.
Once the lentils are tender, ladle into bowls and add optional parsley leaves to garnish.
This soup can be stored in the fridge for three to four days or you can freeze it for a later date.
If you're extremely short on time and want an alternative to meal prep whilst maintaining minimal food waste and enjoying a variety of nutritious, tasty meals, why not try out a meal subscription service instead?
Get ready-portioned ingredients delivered straight to your door when you try out a service such as Gousto, HelloFresh or Green Chef.
As a TOTUM member, you can enjoy incredible offers with all three, including:
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