MOTIVATION | Good food; good life.
You have heard the common saying, “you are what you eat” and I’m sure you’re wondering how drinking a cup of garri and ground nut translates into anything; after all, you visit the toilet and it is all an old story.
But I believe, to build a healthy lifestyle, you need to start with healthy eating and healthy eating is not expensive at all.
As a student myself, I find it easy to visit school cafeterias to purchase food and supplement it with cereals, snacks and junks because I believe it saves time.
Heck! I am not the only one.
Overtime, I have discovered a more better way to eat healthy even with my tight budget.
So, if you are wondering how to do the same with your average pocket money, I would like to share with you 10 practical tips that you can apply.
Here we go:
• create a budget and stick to it
• cook your own food
• learn to say “no” to your cravings
• shop wisely
• cut down on unhealthy food choices
• have a weekly meal prep plan/shopping list
• buy wholesome foods
• use a water bottle
• pack lunch
• shop for produce in season
• CREATE A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT:
The first actionable step to eating healthy on a budget is actually creating a budget.
What I usually do is to write a list of the things I’ll be needing before the month runs out.
I do this on weekends, mostly a Saturday when I’m home and I’m able to look around my room to find out what is exhausted and what still remains.
Creating a budget helps to keep your spending in check and saves you from impulse buying.
Make sure your budget contains healthy food options and make sure to stick to that budget no matter what.
Usually my budget covers my feeding, transportation, and the other miscellaneous but I spend 70% of my money on feeding because I believe to a great extent that health is key and in order to perform at my academic best, I need to be properly fed.
What if your budget is extending a bit above your allowance or pocket money and there is literally nothing left to cut down? You might need to show it to your friends. Chances are, they will be able to change your mind about a few things which you feel are essential that might not really be essential.
Anyways, include the necessary things and cut down on the extras as much as possible.
• COOK YOUR OWN FOOD:
This might sound a bit unrealistic because we’re all in different conditions, right?
I understand private universities don’t allow students cook whereas public universities give total liberty and freedom for cooking.
To cook your own food, you will need to go the market to get some groceries, you’ll need to spend the time actually cooking and then washing the dishes. This is usually frustrating and stressful, especially during exam seasons or busy periods of our student life.
Not everyone of us loves to cook and as a result, we resort to cafeterias and food vendors while some of us prefer to feed on junk food instead – Pepsi, donut, and the likes.
As for me, I love to cook my own food.
There is usually this sense of satisfaction I enjoy from eating my own food rather than eating out. Much more important, it saves me money.
However, there are days I eat out in school cafeterias.
There are no hard and fast rules.
If you can cook, I advice you cook your own food and save yourself extra money. But if you’re in a situation where you can’t, you should ensure you buy from trusted food vendors and eat healthy and clean.
• LEARN TO SAY NO:
I don’t know about you but for me, after hectic lectures, I automatically just go to grab a bottle of Pepsi on autopilot.
I usually give myself the excuse that I need something cold to just gulp down my chest before I faint from all the stress. But little did I know that the 100 naira worth Pepsi was eating deep into my allowance. I would buy like 2-3 bottles in a day.
I think it’s important to learn to say “no” most times, not only to people but also to yourself and your cravings.
I understand there are times we’ll need to treat ourselves but not to the extent that our account balance suffers. If you want to treat yourself to something nice, I advice you plan before hand or you save ahead.
Learn to say ‘no’ to people too. You don’t have to live your life to impress someone or compete with someone. Your health is more important. Drink water, say ‘no’ as often as you can in the nicest way possible and mind your business.
• SHOP WISELY:
I personally go shopping every first week of the month after I receive my allowance to buy my provisions and foodstuff in relative abundance.
While this works for me, it may not work for you.
I know a friend that does exactly the opposite.
She does weekly shopping and buys as she needs.
While I might have spent like 15k in one sitting, she spends like 5k weekly…
I recently found out that her method was quite effective because life is full of surprises and things happen.
However, there are some things you need in relative abundance like rice, beans, etc, as you should not be buying them weekly.
Whatever you don’t need as often, you can buy them as the need for them arise. Perishable food items too fall under this category.
You know what? Just do what works for you.
• HAVE A WEEKLY MEAL PREP PLAN/SHOPPING LIST:
This is so important if you are not the person to buy in bulk.
It’s important to write down what you’ll be needing on a weekly basis.
This will definitely vary every week.
You might feel like eating sweet potatoes this week and maybe some cereals. You can include that in your weekly expenses.
Sometimes, I feel like eating okra soup and semo. I know that when I’m going to the market, okra will have to be included in my shopping list.
This is where I think I should add that you should never go shopping on an empty stomach because I know by experience that there’s the tendecy to grab things you don’t really need because you’re hungry and you’re not thinking straight, lol.
• CUT DOWN ON UNHEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS:
There was a time in my life when I felt if I don’t include cereals in my budget, I was going to die. But then I discovered through research that processed food options are not really healthy for the body.
However, I still take cereals because they are perfect alternatives to snacks. Instead of reaching for a 50 naira sausage roll or a biscuit, I can easily take cereals.
I also like to take them for breakfasts and in-between dinner or lunch.
My friend told me, ‘cereals are what you eat when you’re thinking of what to actually eat.’
They are not the real food.
The thing is, these cereals sometimes cost a lot than a congo of rice or a congo of beans, which are usually more healthier to eat.
Just look at your ‘means’ and reasonably cut down on the non-essentials. If you have to choose between processed food items and wholesome food choices, by now, I’m sure you already know what to go for.
Nobody dies from not eating junks or cereals.
You can instead buy fruits and vegetables and enjoy an healthy life.
Soft drinks, soda, snacks are not essential and when you can do without them, please do.
• USE A WATER BOTTLE:
Apart from the fact that it looks cool to hold a cute water bottle in your hand, this little guy is so important.
I got mine for 1000 naira from a shop on my way home one day and it has helped a lot.
I fill it with water and carry it along with me to class, church and literally everywhere.
I have been able to save the 10 naira I spend on buying pure/sachet water when I’m outdoors.
Also, having a waterbottle with you gives you the cue to drink more water which is good for the body.
I don’t know but I always find myself sipping from my waterbottle even if I’m not thirsty. Maybe it’s just a show-off but at least, I’m drinking water and keeping myself hydrated.
• BUY WHOLESOME FOOD:
This cannot be over emphasized. This is like the most important point here because we’re talking about ‘eating healthy’.
Wholesome food choices out there are rice, beans, oatmeal, pasta, etc
The list is endless.
These food stuff will satisfy you and supply the necessary nutrients to your body.
What I love so much is that we can tweak it. Today, it can be rice and beans with egg and palmoil stew, tomorrow, it can be yam and fried egg or jollof spaghetti and fish.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be rice all the time. Variety is the spice of life.
God, I can’t believe I’m salivating already!
• PACK LUNCH:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day but lunch is also non-negotiable. A good lunch keeps you active during the day when others are tired and worked up.
It’s not out of place to pack lunch to school especially on days when your classes span from morning to evening.
Rather than buy egg roll, donut or chinchin when you get hungry, you can reach out for your lunch bag and eat something more wholesome.
Again, it takes a lot of discipline and determination to cook lunch before your classes. However, lunch doesn’t have to be anything serious, it could be a leftover from yesterday’s dinner or even a replicate of your breakfast. Even 2 slice of bread would do.
I personally don’t feel its out of place to pack lunch. I actually find it cool plus, it saves money.
• SHOP FOR PRODUCE IN SEASON:
Lord knows I love corn season and whether its roasted, boiled or cooked with beans, I’m all out for it.
The good thing is with just 100 naira, you can get close to 4 of it.
Shopping for produce in season will save cost because within that season, the produce are always very cheap and abundant.
With just 150 naira, a friend was telling me he could get sizable amount of sweet potatoes.
Some food produce have their season of abundance, sieze the opportunity and buy as much as you can afford.
Finally, we have reached the end of this article. The tips I shared are mostly what we’re all familiar with but I guess, it’s a good reminder. Plus, we can always learn something new.
I’m curious to know how you’re eating healthy on a budget. You can share the tips I have failed to mention and let’s just learn from each other.
Tell me one thing that is stopping you from eating as healthy as you really would want to. Time? Money? See you in the comments!
Thank you for reading🧡