Published: 29 August 2017

Student budgeting: how to stay healthy on a student budget

Discover how to eat well and keep fit at university with our top tips for staying healthy on a budget.

If your body feels healthy so does your mind, so keeping yourself healthy at university could boost both your mood and your grades. Sticking to a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to break the bank either - follow our tips below to keep your fitness up and your costs down.

Top tips for staying healthy on a student budget

1. Cook for yourself

Microwave meals and takeaways can leave you feeling unhealthy and drain your energy (as well as your bank account) and while eating out is great, it can also be costly. It’s much healthier and cheaper to save meals out for special occasions and cook for yourself at university.

It can also be fun to cook meals together with your flatmates, which also means that you can split the price of a meal between you – saving even more money!

2. Plan ahead

Planning ahead is vital if you want to stick to your budget and your healthy lifestyle. The best way to save money (and food) is to plan your meals for the week. Make a shopping list before doing your food shop to avoid wasting money on items you don’t need.

You can also plan ahead by batch cooking meals and making the most of your freezer. Having ready-prepared home-cooked meals in the freezer will save you time when you just want something quick and healthy to eat. It can also be a good idea to keep your cupboard stocked up with a few tins and dried goods too, so even if you find yourself coming to the end of your budget you will always have a good meal to eat.

During particularly long days spent in lectures or at the Library, it can be tempting to buy lunch out but if you plan ahead, you can prepare lunch and take it with you. Remember, a meal deal might not seem expensive at the time but that’s money that can be spent elsewhere.

3. Shop smart

There are many ways that you can shop smarter to the benefit of your budget.

Try a shop’s own brand of food – you’ll often find that despite the plainer packaging, it’s exactly the same as the items you were willing to pay double the price for. Sometimes supermarket own brand foods are made in the same factory as branded ones!

When it comes to food shopping, it’s important to remember that not all supermarket deals are actually deals. For example, buy one get one free on milk probably won’t save you money because the milk is likely to go off before you actually have time to drink it.

Bonus tip: Save money by buying your fruit and veg from our campus food market which comes to visit every Thursday!

4. Keep active

Keeping active on a student budget isn’t difficult. It can benefit your body and your mental health too.

University is the perfect time to try out a new sport, and at Surrey there are over 45 sports clubs for you to join. We’re also home to world-leading sports venue Surrey Sports Park, where students benefit from discounted membership and access to a wide range of facilities, fun classes and activities.

If you don’t have time to go to the gym regularly there are other ways to keep fit at university, such as exploring your local area. Guildford is easy to explore by foot or bike, so walk where you can and save money on public transport. Our campus is also home to a beautiful lake which is perfect for an afternoon stroll or a quick jog.

Remember that exercise releases endorphins and increases blood flow to the brain, so keeping active will also help you to concentrate during those long study sessions.

5. Drink lots of water

Get into the habit of taking a water bottle with you wherever you go, and skip the alcohol or soft drinks when you go out for meals to save a few pounds – tap water is better for you, too. It may not be your drink of choice, but water is always the healthiest option and is often completely free.

Financial advice and support

For more advice and top tips, our friendly and helpful advisors are always on hand to offer you financial advice and support. You can also read our student guide to budgeting for step-by-step instructions on creating (and sticking to) a budget, our guide to having fun on a budget and our guide to travelling on a budget.


Explore our student profiles to learn more about university life and discover how our student services can help and support you with money matters.

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