girl with pancakes

Fresher-five friendly food forays: finessing your first flat shop

by Oscar Francis

Healthy flatting can be a struggle — budgets, study, deadlines, and side hustles: the life of a student can be absolutely hectic. But does that mean you’re doomed to get scurvy? The answer is no. With a bit of effort and forethought it is possible to eat, at least moderately healthily without too much effort.

Learn to cook

Cooking your own food is incredibly important to making the most of your meagre student money. If you never learnt how to cook before, now is the time. Take a class at Clubs and Socs, or take a look online. You don’t have to do anything fancy — focus on learning a few staple pasta or rice dishes. Use tinned ingredients too, you’ll save heaps (hello tomato pasta!). Likewise, focusing on super simple skills like sauteeing the perfect onion, or learning to parboil a potato, will pay big dividends.

Cut meat

Meat, besides being bad for the environment, is also rather expensive. Your student days are a good time to try going vege, if for no other reason than to save your wallet weight. You’ll probably find it isn’t actually as bad as your grandparents tried to tell you. If you can’t go without the protein hit, try buying beans. Textured vegetable protein (soya wadi) is another solid bet, and can be obtained cheaply from ethnic supermarkets. There might be a bit of a learning curve in order to master the art of cooking it, but it’s definitely well worth the work.

Meal plans

Planning your meals is a great way to make your dollar develop distance. Budget and decide what you’re going to have each day. Planning meals is a great way to learn how to cook too. You can try cooking ahead of time, making a big feed and freezing or refrigerating the excess.

Shop the seasons

Repeat after me: “I am an intelligent, thrifty student, so I always make an effort to buy my fruit and vegetables in season.” In season veges are substantially cheaper too. Take supermarket specials into consideration, and go grab your five-plus a day. Don’t sleep on the snap frozen aisle either.

Condiment up

Try Investing a few choice condiments, like a mighty mayonnaise or some spicy sriracha. These will elevate even the blandest broke-day meal into a fine feast. Don’t be afraid to get creative. For instance, curry paste goes well with nearly everything.

Snack plan

Make a plan for study snacks. Buying food on campus is horribly expensive, so bring your own. Think sandwiches (with wholemeal bread), bananas, nuts — anything that is going to preserve your ability to focus. Avoid the short sugar-hits from processed foods (yes, this includes muesli bars).

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