7 Health Hacks to Stay Alive When You’re Broke

Freya Hughes on 19 September 2019
Oranges and leaves.

Check out these 7 great tips to stay in shape no matter the state of your bank account.

So you’ve unpacked, donned your freshest party gear and you’ve broken the ice with your new flatmates. Next up? A Freshers to remember. Besides, first year is ‘the fun year’, right? Well, yes… but such things like passing your degree and basic sustenance are important, too.

So what’s a first year to do?

Chow down on these health hacks and keep yourself alive. And we know you’re probably super broke already, so get ready to start dining on a dollar.

1. Supermarket Sweep

Quite a lot of people argue that fresh produce is simply too expensive to buy regularly. But, a fair few supermarkets do offers on their fresh stuff. They’re probably forced into it by the government as some sort of initiative, but that’s bloody brilliant news for you. The Co-op, for example, has three types of veg on offer per week. They rotate the products pretty frequently too, so you won’t get bored. 

Another trick is to linger around the reduced section of your favourite supermarket. Optimum times tend to be after 8 or 9pm, or Sundays from about 7pm. Sometimes you can really luck out. But be careful who you tell about this one, as there’s not always a lot to fight over.

2. Bulk Buy

This is going to save you further down the line. Even if you get some funny looks turning up to halls with ten-kilo bags of pasta, you’ll be the one laughing after a few weeks when everyone else has empty cupboards. If pasta’s not your vibe, stock up on your fave carbs and ration yourself throughout the semester.

Go buy crates. Stocking up on tins of beans is a surprisingly healthy way of eating on the cheap. Whatever takes your fancy is fine – baked, kidney, butter – they all count. You can get tonnes of tins mega cheap if you do this – though you might need volunteers to help carry it home. And, it probably goes without saying, but the wonders of bulk buying are usually true of booze as well.

3. The Freezer Is Your Friend

Buy some vegetables and whack them in the freezer. Cook up healthy dishes in bulk and stick them in the freezer. Get your parents to visit and bring up a load of food, and... eat it – you have loads stashed away.

Frozen veg is often a lot cheaper than fresh. You’ll do well to stock up on it while you have a few quid left to your name. And if you’re so inclined, frozen berries are a cheap and cheerful ingredient to a nice healthy smoothie to kickstart your morning – enjoy!

4. Two Become One

Have you really listened to anything your parents or guardians told you about cooking? Probably not. Do you wish you had? Yeah, thought so. You can’t turn back the clock but you can start experimenting. The easiest? Spruce up your ramen with some freshly cooked veg. 

How? Saucepan, oil, flame. Chop, heat, stir. Extra points for rainbow colours. 

Also, it’s a lot cheaper to feed two people than it is one. Contradictory? Perhaps. But not only will you waste less, you’ll find you can get offers and deals on stuff. And because you’re splitting the bill, you’ll both be laughing all the way to the dinner table. 

5. Brain Food

This is one for the snackers. Whether you indulge sneakily at the library or in front of the telly, remember: it’s all about balance. There’s a lot to be said about a multipack of crisps for a quid – it’s not to be knocked. But, you can get a load of fresh fruit for the same price. 

For this game, you’ll need a proper supermarket. It’s quite exciting to bargain hunt once you get into it. If you disagree, you’ve clearly not lived on a budget before. You’ll enjoy it when you’re down to your last tenner.

6. Flush Out Freebies

You’d be surprised at how much free stuff you can actually wrangle when you’re in your first year. Brands know you’re hungry and skint. They play to it and hope you’ll be back when you’re a bit more flush. Scour the vouchers that appear through your letterbox. Sign up to cool student-y things that want you to have stuff for free. 

Also, there’s always someone who is into cooking. Don’t make a habit of being a taker, and make sure you at least wash up, but this can be a quick (free) fix to hunger pangs.

7. And The Obvious Tricks

You know this but we’re going to say it anyway. Eating well is half the battle. If you can squeeze in some time to get active each week, you’ll notice you feel a lot more energetic and sparky. Aside from the option to join a wide range of sports clubs and teams, you’re likely to have a fair amount of green space available to you at uni. If you want to start gentle, round up some mates for a game of catch or a kick about. Then you can gradually add more structure to your sessions if you find yourself getting into it. All you need is a ball (someone always brings one) and free time (which we know you have plenty of). 

Keep necking the water as well. You’ll find a massive improvement in how you feel – hydrated, your brain working to its fullest and it’ll help keep your skin clear.

If you can tick off the majority of this list, you’ll find yourself seeing out the first year of your degree feeling fit and healthy! Good luck and happy freshers.

Freya Hughes on 19 September 2019