How to be healthy on a budget at university – six top tips

If you want to stay healthy when you start university this September, but are easily tempted by the sugary snacks and junk food this is the guide for you! We know that you're going to be on a pretty tight budget when it comes to being a uni student, so we've pulled together our top tips to staying healthy and sticking to your budget.

1. Make a shopping list

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it is a helpful one. Don’t just make a shopping list to feel productive. Make it and stick to it. Don’t stray to the chocolate aisle every week and binge buy. If you know you need a sweet treat, factor that in to your list and be reasonable about what you buy.

Planning your meals out for the week will also really help you write your list, so you can buy exactly what you need. This will help you avoid ending up with a jar of Nutella, box of cereal, some chicken breasts and a loaf of bread - wondering how on earth you’re going to make actual meals for the next week.

2. Don’t shop when you’re hungry

This is a mistake we’ve made many a time, before we learnt the lesson. Shopping when hungry is just a no go. All rational thought will go out of the window when looking at all the delicious options on offer. You’ll quickly rack up your food bill, and end up with a basket of nothingy food in an attempt to kick the hunger pangs.

3. Don’t buy branded

It can be really easy to get sucked into the trap of buying all the branded / most expensive options. Chances are that’s because it’s what you’ve been used to eating at home (forever grateful to the food fairy *cough* parents). A lot of the time the supermarket own brands are the same if not better, for a fraction of the cost.

If there are some brands you really feel you can’t live without, try shops such as Poundland or B&M to see if you can save some money. Birmingham has a great outdoor market that offers fresh fruit and veg at an incredible price, so we would highly recommend shopping there with your friends.

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4. Get your cook on

Cooking your own meals is a great way to stay healthy. We’re talking fresh, made from scratch grub -not a microwave meal! There are lots of tasty, cheap meals that you can cook and freeze for later - perfect for those days when it’s been a long day at uni or you have deadlines due. Leave it to defrost during the day and heat it up in the evening.  

We know it can be a bit of a drag doing the meal prep and cooking, but trust us your future-self will love your past-self for it. It’s also a great way to socialise and get to know your flat mates if you’re living in student accommodation. If you’re all willing to chip in to a food kitty, you could do communal cooking and save even more money.

5. Exercise

You don’t need a gym membership to stay healthy at uni. There’s so many other things you could be involved in, that will not only help you burn those calories, but make friends too. If sport’s your thing, why not get involved with one of our teams or societies? It’ll be great for your physical health, as well as your mental health, as you form close bonds with like-minded students.

We have a programme of activities on offer, including a range of cheap, flexible, just turn-up sport activities for those just looking to have a bit of fun and meet new people. Sessions run throughout the week and only cost £3 per person. Check out the timetable here.

You could also get involved with parkrun UK at Cannon Hill Park or just go for a run along the canal.

6. Drink plenty of water

Cliché we know. But it is literally the cheapest thing that you can do to stay healthy. We’re lucky to have decent drinking water in Birmingham, so there’s no excuse to not stay hydrated. It’s great for your skin, brain function and just all round well-being.

Grab yourself a reusable bottle and you’ll be able to use the water fountain points on campus to refill throughout the day.

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