One of the greatest challenges for university students is the ongoing struggle between healthy eating and saving money. Budgeting alone is hard enough, but factoring in a health-conscious mindset can further complicate the matter.
When roaming the aisles of the grocery store, there are a few things you can focus on to help streamline the process of ensuring you stay healthy. By keeping it simple, adopting the law of thirds, and focusing on consistent protein intake, shopping trips can promote a healthy and thrifty lifestyle.
When it comes to nutrition, consistency is far more important than perfection. Focus on foods that are simple to make, pair well with lots of combinations, and require minimal cleanup. Mincemeat, microwaveable rice, bags of spinach, avocados, and eggs are all foods that fall into these categories. They are simple, easy to cook (or eat raw), and can be eaten in any combination.
Once these simple foods are identified, determining the right amounts is the next major challenge. There is nothing worse than food waste, so learning how to buy the right amount of food is paramount and will be a continuing learning curve – it’ll take you a while to get it right.
When setting up a plate, the general rule is that it should be divided into thirds. This means that one-third of the plate should be protein, one-third carbohydrate dense food and the final third vegetables. By extension, when shopping for food, the trolley should reflect this principle as well.
Before checking out, take a peek down at your trolley and mentally divide the contents. You may find one category to be drastically over-represented. If your trolley is dominated by carbs, put a loaf of bread back and grab a few peppers to balance out the trolley before checking out.
This rule will help with meal construction and ensure you’re making healthy meals at home. However, most people also need snacks to keep them going. For these, the emphasis should be on protein. Snacks are often carb-based, with foods like crisps, biscuits, and cereals being the primary culprits. Instead, look to snacks like skyr (a form of Icelandic yogurt), hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and protein powders/shakes to fill in the gaps between meals.
A depiction of what an ideal normal, everyday shopping cart would contain would be proteins such as fish, mincemeat or chicken. Other proteins could be eggs, whey protein, skyr (a type of Icelandic yogurt), and nuts, such as raw almonds or peanuts. Additionally, carbohydrates like berries, white or brown rice, beans and potatoes and to round it off, vegetables like large bags of spinach or rocket, peppers, broccoli and asparagus.
This shopping list will typically run you around £30, which is certainly affordable when trying to eat healthy. In the States, it is common to spend upwards of $100 for a week’s worth of groceries while keeping health-conscious.
Here in the UK, it is much easier to balance health, and affordability while food shopping. So, go forth, Sainsbury’s awaits!
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