A few thoughts on the conundrum of budget nutrition…
As a student myself I can understand how fuelling your body can be expensive, time consuming and at the best of times boring! However, as a running fanatic, I can also relate to how imperative it is to make a conscious effort to look after our bodies in order to be able to improve
fitness and stay healthy (or as healthy as a student can be!). I am guilty of the student diet of pure carbohydrates at times but I have gained a fair amount of useful insight into how to improve this over the years.
Cutting Nutrition Costs While Maintaining Quality
Firstly to combat the cost. While I can quite confidently say that every student will have found the ‘reduced’ section in their local supermarket, I would encourage all those on a budget to stick to their shopping list- as from my experience, the impulse purchases that often stem from what appears to be a good offer can start to rack up the cost very quickly. A good shopping list includes planned meals for each night (for cheap meal ideas there are some fantastic recipes available for free on https://www.bbcgoodfood.com) and basics for lunch and breakfast to keep the cost down.
A good shopping list includes planned meals for each night.
Your breakfast is a good opportunity to get some fibre into your diet- either brown toast or a fibre-rich cereal such as wheetabix would be great for this. However I would encourage you not to get drawn into buying big brands for any of your food. Supermarket own-branded food often tastes exactly the same… you might even like it more. For lunch the go-to has to be sandwiches- they’re cheap and don’t require much time out of a hectic schedule. However, sandwiches can be made into a cheap source of protein by adding tuna or egg mayo as a filling. Also, don’t forget brown bread has a higher protein content.
To tackle the time restraint on cooking dinner definitely get organised and batch cook.
To tackle the time restraint on cooking dinner definitely get organised and batch cook. There’s no need to eat the same meal four nights straight either as most meals will freeze for another week. To make cheap pasta meals a bit healthier, consider adding frozen veg (particularly spinach is great if your not a vegetable fan because it has a high iron content but cooks down to have no real taste).
One delivery service which doesn’t have this issue is ASDA, who only have a minimum spend of £25.
Another way to reduce time spent on your nutrition is to online shop. Not only does this tend to bring the cost down, as you’re less likely to impulse buy, but also this saves you the effort of having to take a bus or even use up petrol in your car by going to the supermarket. Having tried many different online supermarkets, I have found the biggest problem to be the minimum spend. Unfortunately the majority of supermarkets require a minimum spend of £40 to deliver, which is a crazy amount of food unless you are shopping for multiple people! One delivery service which doesn’t have this issue is ASDA, who only have a minimum spend of £25. However, my favourite place to buy groceries is actually amazon! Amazon now offer a service called amazon fresh which has a huge variety of food from basic groceries to fresh food from local producers. The service does have a minimum spend of £40 and you do have to have an amazon prime account (so for some ASDA or a similar supermarket may be a more efficient option), however I prefer it for the variety of fresh and healthy food available.
To conclude, a tight budget needn’t exclude a healthier diet. With a little planning and organisation you can feed your body for performance, to ultimately see the results you have been training for. Therefore to all student athletes I wish you the best of luck with both your running and your budget!