Balancing nutrition needs as a disabled student

As a student on a budget, there are many aspects that affect their needs and how we can balance our diet while being on a tight budget. Below are some tips and examples of recipes that are cheap but healthy.

Tips to a balanced diet on a budget

1. Make sure you shop at a store where ingredients and foods are cheap for example shops such as Asda, Aldi, and Lidl. They provide the basic ingredients to make healthy meals. Make sure you buy fresh ingredients from these stores as they can be cheaper than processed ingredients.

2. Plan ahead for the week and know what days and what times you can prepare your meals. Create a meal schedule and then in your weekly shop, you can buy the ingredients needed for each day

3. Keep track of the expiry date = if you have planned ahead of the food for the week, make sure you track the expiry date to make sure you do not use ingredients that have passed the date of expiry and increase the risk of infections

4. Have your meal early = this will ensure that the food digested will enter through the body and makes you fuller for the evening

5. Track your calories = by tracking your calories can see the overview of your goal setting and see what type of foods you are eating which fit in your balanced meal.

Example recipes that are cheap and healthy

Quick chicken hummus bowl

· 200g hummus

· 1 small lemon, zested and juiced

· 200g pouch cooked mixed grains (we used Merchant Gourmet red rice & quinoa)

· 150g baby spinach, roughly chopped

· 1 small avocado, halved and sliced

· 1cooked chicken breast, sliced at an angle

· 100g pomegranate seeds

· ½ red onion, finely sliced

· 2 tbsp toasted almonds

1. Mix 2 tbsp of the hummus with half the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and enough water to make a drizzly dressing. Squeeze the grain pouch to separate the grains, then divide between two shallow bowls and toss through the dressing. Top each bowl with a handful of spinach.

2. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice over the avocado halves, then add one half to each bowl. Divide the chicken, pomegranate seeds, onion, almonds, and remaining hummus between the two bowls and gently mix everything together just before eating.

Sweet potato and chicken curry

· 500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

· 1 tbsp olive oil

· 4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, each cut into large chunks

· 1 large red onion, cut into wedges

· 2 tbsp rogan josh curry paste

· 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

· 125g spinach

1. Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling, salted water for 5-7 mins until just tender. Drain well, then set aside. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the chicken and onion. Cook for 5-6 mins until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Stir in the curry paste, cook for 1 min, add the tomatoes, then cook for another min.

2. Pour in 100ml boiling water and mix well. Simmer for 5 mins, add the spinach, then cook for 2 mins until wilted. Fold in the potatoes and heat through. Serve with rice and naan breads.

Cauliflower, paneer and pea curry

· 2 tbsp sunflower oil

· 225g pack paneer, cut into cubes

· 1 head of cauliflower broken into small florets

· 2 onions, thickly sliced

· 2 garlic cloves, crushed

· 2 heaped tbsp tikka masala paste

· 500g carton passata

· 200g frozen peas

· small pack coriander, roughly chopped

· basmati rice or naan breads, to serve

· raita or your favourite chutney, to serve

1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the paneer and fry gently until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the remaining oil and the cauliflower to the pan and cook for 10 mins until browned. Add the onions, and a little more oil if needed, and cook for a further 5 mins until softened. Stir in the garlic and curry paste, then pour in the passata and 250ml water, and season. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 18-20 mins or until the cauliflower is just tender.

2. Add the frozen peas and crispy paneer to the pan and cook for a further 5 mins. Stir through most of the coriander and garnish with the rest. Serve with basmati rice or naan bread, raita or your favourite chutney.

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