A university student's guide to affordable weeklong meals
For most university students, it’s a struggle to afford healthy groceries and even to have the time to cook. It’s easy to fall into the black hole of buying overpriced lunches at school, which doesn’t help ease concerns about being poor university students.
Here in British Columbia, we’re incredibly fortunate to be living in an ecologically diverse province that yields fresh produce and seafood, along with an abundance of local bakers, farmers and markets. There’s almost always an option for choosing local, which not only supports our local economy and farmers, but also lowers the emissions needed to transport food.
Contrary to popular belief, choosing local doesn’t always have to mean ‘more expensive.’ While local baked goods and dairy products may cost more, local produce is actually generally cheaper in cost. So let’s look at some ways to avoid buying overpriced meals and break out of the broke student cycle!
Here are some our favourite budget-friendly recipes for students: These are great to cook Sundays before the school week begins. Keep refrigerated in large containers and it will be easy to pack enough for school lunches every morning. And don’t stress about following the recipe too closely – you can always substitute things and make it your own!
• 3-4 servings of pasta, boiled and tossed in light olive oil
• 2 peppers, diced (green is cheaper)
• 1-2 carrots, shredded
• Crushed peanuts
• Flax seeds
• Seasoning: basil, chilli powder and salt
• Optional: shredded cheese (best to add fresh the morning of)
• Light salad dressing added at time of lunch to single lunch portion
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: five lunch portions
• 4-6 potatoes, peeled and boiled
• 1/2 cup cream (or less; dependant on dairy preference, coconut milk may be substituted but will have a sweeter, lighter effect)
• 1/4-1/2 onion, cut and sautéed golden brown
• Seasoning: black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, chilli, salt
Toss in a blender until smooth!
Prep and cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: five lunch potions
• 3 parsnips and 3 carrots, cut into long, thin pieces
• 3 medium sized beets, cubed
• 3 turnips, cubed
• Seasoning: basil, oregano, rosemary, black pepper, salt, garlic powder
Toss everything in a tray or oven pan in oil (coconut oil is best as it will add to the sweet light flavour, but olive oil is a good alternative).
Bake in oven until meduim-soft and lightly crispy (roughly 15 minutes at 350).
To make an easy dipping sauce, just mix plain yogurt with black pepper and chopped green onions.
Yield: four lunch portions
Prep and cook time: 35 minutes
• 2 apples, cut in small cubes
• Double portion of your meal-size serving of spinach
• Half a cucumber cut in cubes
• Crushed nuts (cashews, peanuts or almonds work best)
• Seasoning: oregano, black pepper, sesame seeds, ginger powder
To make dressing: 3/4 olive oil and 1/4 maple syrup (adjust to your preference of sweetness)
Yield: two salad portions
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
• 5 medium-large yams, cut in cubes or French fry shape
• Seasoning: basil, salt, black pepper, paprika and chilli powder
Toss everything in a tray with olive oil.
Lay flat and drizzle a little more olive oil.
Bake until soft and or crispy (20-30 minutes at 350 degrees).
These taste great with drizzled honey or the black pepper plain yogurt dripping sauce!
Yield: five lunch portions
Prep and cook time: 30-40 minutes
Just remember, it’s all about practice. It’ll probably take a few tries before your meals perfectly suit your taste, but trying different things along the way is part of the fun!
Campus Life Editor
Community Relations Manager
Arts and Culture Editor