Well, we're back on the health train! In our last post, Planning to succeed: a student's guide to healthy eating, we touched on the benefits of healthy eating for students, and how to shop for the right foods to get you through those long study sessions. In this next instalment we'll be continuing down the same path, encouraging a healthy lifestyle by providing you with some quick and easy, budget-friendly recipes for the freezer to keep your body fuelled and your brain focused.
Let's start with a few basics. One thing a dedicated student definitely needs is a well-stocked pantry full of healthy staples. Think wholegrain pasta, brown rice, lentils, beans, quinoa, noodles, an assortment of herbs and spices, and condiments such as chilli sauce, mustard, and soy sauce. Once you've got your basics you'll find it much easier to whip up something tasty and healthy to eat, so those ramen noodles you've been hoarding will (hopefully) be a thing of the past!
Now for the freezer. A full freezer is one of the easiest ways to make sure you always have something healthy to eat, even when you're strapped for time. Stock up on frozen veggies like peas, beans and corn, and portion out meat and poultry into freezer bags—this way you can buy in bulk and save money.
Another great way to stock your freezer and ensure you always have a healthy meal at hand is to do a big cook-up each week (or whenever you can spare the time); preparing bulk meals in advance to portion, freeze, and defrost whenever you get hungry. And with cooler weather heading our way, what better time to get into the kitchen and cook up some of our warming and budget-friendly, freezer-friendly favourites.
Spaghetti Bolognese is a classic for a reason—it's simple, quick, and totally delicious. And with beef mince being such an affordable ingredient, this one will suit every budget. Once you've cooked your sauce, simply divide into containers (plastic takeaway containers work a treat), label and freeze for up to 2 months. All that's left to do is cook some pasta while you defrost the sauce. Easy!
Hot tip: To change things up a bit, add a tin of red kidney beans, smoked paprika and dried chilli to your defrosted sauce, heat and serve over rice. Voila! Chilli con carne.
Now one for our vegetarian friends, or for anyone who likes a good #meatfreemonday. This simple tofu curry is not only delicious and healthy, but a great one for the freezer as it doesn't contain any coconut milk—which can be rather uncooperative when it comes to freezing. You'll find that pretty much any tomato-based curry will live happily in the freezer, so you can have a bit of fun experimenting with different ingredients.
Hot tip: If you can't live without meat, simply substitute the tofu with diced chicken for the same delicious result.
Another excellent contender for the freezer is the humble pea and ham soup. While some soups (generally those containing dairy or potato) are not ideal for freezing, this pea and ham soup will keep well for at least a month. It's an easy choice for those times when you're running a bit low on supermarket supplies, as it can hold its own as a standalone dish and will keep you full for a long time.
Hot tip: For a vegetarian version omit the ham, add an extra clove of garlic, and bump up the greens by adding some broccoli and baby spinach. If you want to get fancy, serve topped with some crunchy homemade croutons.
Yum, right? I don't know about you, but I'm feeling hungry. And hopefully you're feeling inspired to start thinking creatively about even more ways to eat healthily on a budget. Happy cooking!
This post is part of our healthy lifestyle series from Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.
Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and general grammar pest. She loves writing scribbles and correcting errors, as well as changing her hair colour every five minutes and eating all the foods in Melbourne.