healthy eating on a student budget: part 1

so after making cinnamon scrolls for the flatties last night (oops that autocorrected to fatties which is a fair call tbh) and a saturday market date this morning which involved a chocolate mousse doughnut, i was in dire need of some vegetables. luckily, past Anna (an overused expression of my sister’s, which i now seem to have picked up) was a thoughtful wee bunny and had prepared cooked lentils, homemade sun dried tomatoes, and feta in the fridge plus some frozen spinach in the freezer so i have just eaten a tremendously healthy lunch which my gluten weary body is thanking me for profusely. now don’t get me wrong – i’m no gluten nazi – but i feel so good when i’m not eating much of it.
eating healthily on a student (or any) budget is hard. bad food is just so cheap! and plentiful! and considering we buy bread as a flat, i could get by so cheaply if i just ate peanut butter toast for every meal of the day. and while that sounds like fun for the most part, not so good for this body of mine.

here are two tips, if you’d like (i will be doing more posts on the subject in the future. here are the two that come to mind for me right now!)

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1. preparation is yo friend
– the key to eating healthy food on a budget is sorting yourself out in the weekends or evenings or whenever you’ve got some free time. it is so so sooooo much easier to eat well if your fixings are sitting there in the fridge, and a mere five minutes away from a good meal. it’s when you’ve got nothing sorted that you resort to takeaways or junk food.

my fave preparations are
– lentils. protein yeeha! if i’m feeling fancy i’ll saute some onion and garlic to begin, add some spices and then the lentils and then stock, and cook it down like a dry dahl. otherwise i’ll just boil them in some salted water. these can be paired with just about anything to form the basis for a meal.
– roasted root veges. obviously a winter time thing. i’ll do pumpkin, kumara, beetroot, parsnip, carrot… basically anything i’ve got on hand, with the exception of potatoes.
– sun dried tomatoes. very cheap in the summer! basically just dribble over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or malt if you’re a poor student) and chuck them in a low oven (130 ish) for a few hours or until shrivelled and crinkly. and i don’t even like tomatoes that much, but i love these.
– some kind of good fat – avo, feta, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews.. they add interest and yum to a salad.
– green vegetables. get that chlorophyll in ya! i find it easiest to buy frozen vegetables such as green beans, edamame, or frozen spinach portions. all it takes is a zap in the microwave (or even just popping them in frozen if i’m making my lunch in the morning, as they’ll be defrosted by lunchtime.)

some fave combos
– plain lentils, sun dried tomatoes, spinach and feta
– avocado, sundried tomatoes and a poached egg
– spicy lentils with a fried egg on top and feta/halloumi sprinkled over
– roasted veges, lentils, green beans, feta, and a cashew/cranberry/almond nut mix
– spicy lentils with spinach stirred through
…and much more

psst – if you don’t love lentils, then you can sub Israeli or regular couscous into most of these. which does mean you’ll be eating that wheat we’re trying to avoid, but still pretty healthy!

I also love love roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and will very happily munch my way through a heads over a few meals.
i like…
– cauli roasted with curry powder and mustard seeds, then a quick tangy yoghurt sauce to top
– broccoli with parmesan/ feta and pumpkin seeds/flaked almonds

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2. get on the oat buzz
my weekday breakfast HAS to involve oats in some shape or form – all very well to munch on scones or eggs or scrolls on a weekend, but porridge or bircher is my go to on a weekday. i generally eat bircher in the summer and porridge in the winter. plus they’re so much cheaper than buying breakfast cereal! and i love that you can precisely control the amount of sugar. i bought some stunning rhubarb from the market today which i have already roasted with a little sugar and am looking forward to eating it with my bircher tomorrow!

some toppings/ combos
– cinnamon and fresh pear
– cinnamon and dates
– roasted rhubarb and vanilla yoghurt
– stewed appple made from proper cooking apples
– canned black doris plums and custard
– coconut, linseed and cranberries 
– brown sugar and cream
…yum!

life right now : the word that comes to mind is busy! i’ve just found out i have the dubious pleasure of two midterm tests on my birthday – cheers eco department. however, i’m powering on! i had a brilliant day today and got to spend time with some of my favourite people – had a morning market date and an afternoon tea with Paris tea and scones with cream and jam and gorgeous chats. i sure am a lucky ducky. plus my flatmate’s nana dropped round a ridiculous amount of baking complete with the butteriest shortbread i’ve ever tasted – mmm.
i have cinnamon scrolls to share with you – unfortunately i didn’t manage to take pictures of the finished product as we pounced on them! but my dear friends have kindly volunteered to come over to eat them this week so that i can get more photos – what selfless, charitable gals eh ;)
until next time, friends! have a great sunday! i hope you drink lots of coffee and read the sunday paper and stay in your pyjamas until at least lunchtime. xx

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