Comment | Healthy Choices

Starting University is daunting, and among the many new responsibilities, budgeting for food and cooking for yourself every night can seem daunting. Although the deals on pre-prepared meals in supermarkets seem tempting to inexperienced cooks with student budgets, they’re actually a terrible idea for your pocket (not to mention your waistline, the local economy and our community). Learning to cook nutritious meals from scratch is one of the best life skills you can learn while at university, so it will be worth your while using this opportunity to have fun and explore the many different options.

Unless you want to be into your overdraft before Christmas, you really need to think about the cost of your shopping. Regular takeaways or meal deals are almost as damaging to your bank balance as they are to your body. Your wallet will also feel much emptier, and you’ll find yourself with less money to spend on nights out and travel costs. It’s far more economical to cook large amounts of one meal, such as a chilli or a stew from scratch, and then freeze individual portions. Doing this will also save you precious time during the evenings. Why buy pre-made pasta sauces when you can make a far tastier one for a fraction of the price?  The best part of it is that you don’t even need a cookbook. All you have to do is just do a Google search for the ingredients you already have, and you’ll find a simple recipe in no time at all.

Avoiding the supermarket in favour of alternatives is one of the best ways to make your food budget go further. Leeds has an amazing selection of local markets and independent shops for you to explore. Visiting Kirkgate Market in the city centre or the Farmers Market outside LUU every Monday will mean you can buy exactly what you need, safe in the knowledge that you’re getting locally sourced, good quality food. Buy all your spices and herbs at the market and you’ll get more for your money, you may even pick up some exciting specialist ingredients to try! If you get your fruit, veg and meat from the grocers or butchers, you wont be tempted by too many deceptive offers and deals, which often mean you end up with products you don’t need or want.

Visiting these local traders can also provide an escape the student bubble and properly explore Leeds. Living on campus isn’t an excuse not to venture out to Headingley or Kirkgate, and the journey is not as long as you might think. As residents of Leeds we have a duty to support independent shops and businesses, it’s an easy but rewarding way to get involved in the local community. Turning self-catering and food shopping into a hobby will mean staying happy, healthy (and solvent) during term time.

Freya Potter


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