The Iglu Guide | Blog

Nutritious student meals to make on a budget

Cooking up a nutritious meal is not something that’s usually associated with traditional student living. The temptation to snack on unhealthy treats lurks dangerously on every corner, and when the budget is tight it’s all too easy to enjoy those cheap and easy convenience options. But don’t give up just yet, because healthy eating is more important than just filling up the tank. Everything you consume contributes towards those fundamental building blocks that will help you be the best version of yourself. After all, you are what you eat. And even though a student budget is not always what nutritional dreams are made of, you can still nourish your body and boost your brainpower with deliciously easy meals that won’t break the bank.

Shopping tips for your student budget

Food shopping is probably the most expensive outgoing after your student accommodation, but it can be hard to keep within budget. When you’re out and about shopping, these tips will help you stay on track and get the most nutritional bang for your buck:

  • Be prepared – make sure your kitchen is cooking-ready
  • Always take a shopping list to the supermarket
  • Bulk buy or share costs with others in your student accommodation
  • Menu plan – wasted food is wasted money
  • Cook to order, or save leftovers and freeze for other meals
  • Don’t shop hungry! That’s a fast one-way track to bad decisions
  • Love to snack? Stick to leftovers and save on the way

What does a healthy student diet look like?

All students should aim to eat a balanced diet, unless there are specific needs to take into consideration such as sport. Incorporating plenty of quality carbohydrates like brown pasta, wholemeal rice and cereals will enhance energy reserves, while protein helps to support your immunity and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Healthy fats from oily fish like salmon have long been associated with boosting brain power and concentration levels, and dark chocolate lovers can officially pack away their guilt, with cocoa now linked to improved brain health. Fill up on citrus fruits and berries as you go. They’re packed full of flavonoids that are thought to improve blood flow to the brain and enhance mental performance. Here’s five nutritious student favourites for starters.

Butter bean and chorizo stew

Super easy with just 4 key ingredients, this student staple is the perfect way to warm up your insides as the nights start to cool down. Combining the salty flavours of chorizo with the hearty goodness of butter beans, this is your one-bowl ticket to a good night’s sleep. Vegetarians can swap out the chorizo for extra beans, and add in some smoked paprika and garlic to boost the taste.


200g chorizo
2 x 400g tinned diced tomatoes,
2 z 400g drained butter beans
130g pesto


  • Slice and fry the chorizo
  • Add in the tomatoes and butter beans
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins
  • Stir through the pesto, season to taste and serve

Black bean quesadilla

Tasty, filling, and perfect for either lunch or dinner, black bean quesadilla is a student favourite that’s sure to become a weekly regular on the menu plan. Black beans are a rich source of plant-based fibre and protein that’s easy to prepare and extremely versatile to use. This recipe can be embellished and personalised to suit every taste.


200g canned black beans
1 x cup grated cheese
Half avocado
Tortilla wrap


  • Heat through the black beans in a saucepan, seasoned to taste
  • Spread the wrap with avocado and top one half with grated cheese
  • Top the same half with the warm beans and fold over to form a semi-circle
  • Grill the quesadilla for a few minutes on each side until the cheese is melted
  • Serve with salad or fresh veg

Omelettes any way

Eggs are a brilliantly cheap source of protein and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Whether you’re after a late brekkie or a quick supper, the beauty of the humble omelette is that students can use up pretty much anything that’s left in the fridge.


3 x eggs whisked
Half onion chopped
Half cup cheese

Optional extras: diced ham, diced tomato, chopped mushrooms, olives, spinach


  • Heat some oil in the pan and stir fry the harder ingredients such as pepper, onion etc.
  • Pour over the eggs and leave on a low heat to cook
  • Before completely set, add in the ham and sprinkle over the cheese
  • Continue to cook until set, or place under a hot grill
  • Serve with your favourite salad or veg

Overnight oats

Ideal for breakfast or just an afternoon pick-me-up, overnight oats are packed full of nutritious benefits that’ll keep every student powering through til lunch. Combining both carbohydrates and protein, oats are really hard to beat when it comes to preparing a healthy start to the day. Pack an even bigger nutritional punch by adding in seasonal fruits and berries along the way. It’s so easy to prepare and so delicious to eat, you can supersize the ingredients, share with student housemates and make friends for life. Keep this recipe in budget by only using seasonal toppings.


Rolled oats
Fresh fruit
Greek yoghurt
Chia seeds
Alternatives: Oat milk, almond milk, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, sunflower seeds, hemp, peanut butter


  • Combine the ingredients in a bowl and cover with the liquid
  • Stir through, cover and refrigerate for minimum 2 hours
  • Serve and enjoy

Veggie chilli

This versatile number is great for any student household that needs to use up leftover ingredients. It’s the ideal choice for busy periods like exam season because you can make extra batches and freeze ahead of time. This veggie recipe uses sweet potato as the hero ingredient, but it can easily be swapped out with whatever’s lurking in your fridge. Just adapt the cooking times accordingly.

1 x large chopped sweet potato
1 x onion
2 x cloves garlic
1 x capsicum
400g canned kidney beans
400g canned tomatoes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Fresh herbs to taste (eg coriander, basil)


  • Sprinkle some of the spices over the sweet potato and roast in the oven until cooked (around 45 mins)
  • Chop the onion, pepper and garlic and stir fry over a medium heat
  • Add the remaining spices, beans and tomatoes and bring to the boil
  • Add in the sweet potato and season to taste
  • Serve with sour cream, corn chips or rice

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