Student Diet - Live like a student, eat like a king

Many students are on a tight budget and we here at CSN understand how hard it can be to create a healthy and balanced diet on a student budget. However with a bit of clever planning and preparation we believe you can have the very best diet possible at a fraction of the price you might expect. Firstly, the best advice we can give is work out a budget for your weekly food allowance and when you get your student loan, the first thing to do is buy in bulk the staples to get you through the coming semester. Once these are in the cupboard it is less likely that you will spend money buying the little bits and pieces individually that make up most of your student diet. Buying big sacks of rice, oats, pasta and potatoes is the key to any healthy structured diet, for less than 30 pounds you should be able to have a semesters worth of carbs sorted, easily. One of the things I realised when spending money on foods at university was that a large portion was spent on jars of cooking sauces and flavourings. Again at the start of each semester invest in some spices, herbs and seasonings, these will last you forever and mean for a few pounds you can have a lot more variety on your diet than just the usual tomato or curry sauces that are laden with hidden salts and sugars and cost for one meal, what spices would last for easily a week.   Spices and herbs can be made into delicious dressings with the addition of some good fats, olive oils and nut oils can be brought in bulk and for boring old pasta mayonnaise, this can be livened up with some chilli and other spices! Making sure you get enough healthy fats is a good way of ensuring adequate calories to sustain muscle recovery, performance and growth and get a little extra protein especially with large tubs of all natural peanut butter, a few pounds a month should meet your fat allowance comfortably. If you’re lucky enough to have parents who like to take you on a ‘big shop’ before each term, this is a key opportunity to stock up on these items, your parents will love you as they will see how thrifty and thoughtful you are being, and are more likely to dig a little deeper into their pockets than if you just fleece them for perishable, luxury items! Use this as a chance to get bulk amounts of tinned fruit and frozen veg, this is cheaper, just as effective and does not perish and waste money like fresh produce.

Proper preperation prevents poor performance

I think they point in all of this is to have a plan, at home in your holidays take time to have a good think about how much food you require to meet your goals, and spend some time calculating meal sizes and macro’s, this is a pain but will stop you over or under eating and keep your eyes on the prize. In this time get into the habit of prepping foods, using Tupperware and creating good food preparation and eating habits before term time starts. Also use this as an opportunity to experiment with herbs and spices that are lying around the house, making deciding your food choices easier when stood in front of the spice racks at the local supermarket on the first day of term. This is also a time to try different meals, finding out what foods you can tolerate every day to make bulk buying easier and also to become efficient at cooking, quick and easy meals as a student are important, limiting time in what are usually grotty kitchens and the reduced need for washing up.

Now comes the tricky part

I have saved the most difficult nutritional issue until last. Protein requirements, meat can be expensive, but if you buy in bulk you can get some good deals. Go to the local butchers and in particular, halal supermarkets meat tends to be much cheaper, don’t be afraid to haggle, 10kg of chicken can be found for around £30, trust me, I have tried and succeeded to this day. Minced meats are also cheaper and contain higher fat amounts, this may be of benefit to those looking for higher calorific intake but with careful cooking and preparation these can be reduced. Another common way to get protein in the diet is through tinned fish, these are cheap, easy and convenient to prepare if you’re in a rush or the more likely scenario all the dishes in the kitchen are dirty! Supplements are also a good way to getting added protein, but be careful. Shop around and look for quality in protein powders, cheaper ones have lower protein content and reduced absorption rates and are often padded out with fillers, making them not as cost effective as some of the more well-known brands. Again buy these in bulk at the start of term, or if you take your training really seriously ask for supplements as birthday and Christmas presents. For those struggling to get enough calories mass gainers can be a good way of getting extra calories, we suggest splitting a full serving, which can over 1000Kcals into 2 or three servings, mix one with oats for breakfast with extra peanut butter, have another post workout as this will still contain enough protein and sugars for recovery, and have another if required as a snack. For those who want the added benefits of creatine and other muscle building ingredient, we suggest an all in one product, these are usually lower in calories so can be split in to two servings. If you want to have the little luxuries in your diet like fresh fruit and veg or the odd treat, then go to supermarkets late at night and check out the reduced isles, this is a really great way of getting some goodies in your diet, many items can be frozen and kept for later and stay fresh long after their expiry date. [Tweet ""Give the fibres of your body the nutrients they need""]   We all know university is about going out and having fun and meeting new people, but with a bit of planning, sacrificing the odd night out (which will help your training and recovery massively as an added bonus), and for those who really want to eat like a king, getting a part time job. This should easily enable you to meet all your nutritional goals, at times it might be boring, but when you’ve got the best physique at the student gym, will you care? Peace, weights and protein shakes, Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc) [wpsr_socialbts]