Staying Healthy at Uni – it’s possible

The likely temptation

If you’re a food lover like me, you’ll find the countless takeaway offers and free Domino’s at Freshers’ Fair hard to resist. It’s far too easy to slip into the routine of regularly group-ordering food while socialising with your new flatmates and bonding over your favourite pizza toppings.

For many new students, it’s the first time you will experience complete independence and have the opportunity to get Deliveroo at 2am with no grief from your parents. It’s liberating!

There’s no harm in indulging for the first week or two of term. It can be a good way to ease into ‘adult life’ without the hassle of food shopping and washing up adding to your long list of things to do. However, it’s not a good idea to let it become a habit. Your bank account will be the first thing to tell you that before your waistline does.

Instead, I find that offering to cook an easy, home-comfort meal like spag bol goes down really well. Plus, it costs nothing in comparison to a takeaway.

The joys of planning ahead

Getting together with a few others to organise a groceries delivery is a fab idea. It forces you to plan ahead and think about what you’re going to eat during the week. If that’s not something you’re used to doing, it’s also the best way to maximise cupboard space.

I realised quite quickly that buying things as-and-when I needed them, for whatever recipe I fancied trying that night, was definitely not the best way to stretch the pennies.

Luckily for me, meal planning was always something that we did at home. Everyone had a crazy busy schedule so I actually quite enjoy the process. I have a lot of tried and tested recipes for every food-mood. But if that’s not the case for you and you’re not used to cooking, there are a lot of great student cookbooks out there designed for that situation.

I would strongly recommend that you get your hands on a cookbook before you come to uni. Embrace your inner Jamie Oliver and try out some recipes that appeal to you and save the culinary disasters for your home kitchen and your flatmates don’t have to suffer the consequences.

Things I learnt (quite quickly…)

Vegetables: eat them. I know I sound like your mum, but she’s been right all these years. It actually is important to give your body what it needs. You’ll very quickly find yourself getting sluggish and tired (and not just from a hangover) if you don’t eat your greens. Also, they’re not the cheapest thing you’ll have in your basket. So chances are, you will refuse to let them go to waste, on principle.

I’d never set foot in Iceland before I came to uni, a shocking fact for one of my course friends. She was right to have it as her go-to; I had been missing out. Go to the one in Fulford whenever you get the chance. You’ll find most things there are significantly cheaper than elsewhere and still the same quality.

Plus, there’s the added bonus of not having to worry about things expiring in the uncomfortably warm kitchens in student halls. Just chuck it all in the freezer! You’re welcome in advance.

All in all, it’s not as much effort as you think it’s going to be and it won’t take long to get the hang of it. I actually found that I enjoyed the whole feeding myself thing so much that I made an Instagram account documenting what I was eating. It was great to get inspo from other students who were trying to eat well on a budget too. That being said, I definitely won’t be forgoing an obligatory post-night out Viking’s pizza any time soon.

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Hi, I’m Tara, a 2nd Year Psychology student and I’m in Alcuin College. People have this idea that you shouldn’t go to uni too close to home, but I chose York because it’s such a cosy city, and has the bonus of being close to where I live.