The life of a student isn’t an easy one. From stressing about assignments and pending exams, to maintaining an often busy social life. Never mind the expenses that come along with being at college or university. 

All of this can leave little to no room to consider healthy eating habits especially when fast food and 2-minute noodles offer such convenience and a lot of the times, the cheapest options available.

Here is a student’s guide to making better choices that don't have to break the bank:

Budget

“Life isn’t cheap”. I’m sure we have all heard this from our parents or grandparents at some point and guess what? They're right. To make it easier on yourself, learn a few budgeting skills.

UsNews Money says the best way to stick to a budget is to write everything down. They advise that you "list monthly income sources, including savings, wages and parental allowances, and then write down estimated expenses for the month.” This way you can keep on top of your expenses. 

Buy in bulk

There is nothing more satisfying than receiving your money’s worth when you buy something. And contrary to popular belief, the more you buy, the more you save .

Invest in starches like rice and pasta because they do not spoil. Community Table says it's best to watch out for sales and deals - if grains are on sale, buy as much as you can afford to stock. 

Prepping your meals in advance saves you both time and money.

Eat seasonal fruits & veggies

Community Table mentions how fruits and vegetables sold out of season tend to be a bit more expensive than others. Remember to buy root vegetables in the winter like squash and apples in autumn, and berries and broccoli in the summertime.

Read more: Healthy (and delicious) recipes you can make for just R20 a meal

Prepare your own food

Let’s face it, eating out is expensive. Life as a student is hectic enough, so prepping your meals in advance saves you both time and money.

Stayhealthy-stayhappy says a trick to saving money and eating healthy is to avoid buying frozen meals all together. Rather make your meals in one go and then freeze them to consume later.

Hydrate!

A cardinal rule to healthy living is drinking water.

Nameya Jacobs, a Print & Digital Media student at CityVarsity says, “I add lemon to my water, partly because it helps the liver and kidneys to detoxify the body, and partly because it makes drinking water more bearable. It might take you a while to get used to the taste, but trust me, once you do, you're going to add lemon to everything.”

Ditch the diet

The biggest misconception about eating healthy is that constant dieting is a necessity. There is nothing wrong with having the occasional chocolate bar, as long as you don’t overdo it.

Dietician Lize Stander from Cape Town says dieting causes us to feel deprived, leading to overindulgence (more food, more money spent) and finally to a lower self-esteem due to the inability to stick to unrealistic diet plans.

She says rather “focus on choosing unprocessed/whole, nutritious foods, eating mindfully and responding appropriately to hunger and satiety cues.”