September is an exciting month for many youngsters who are heading off to University. It’s a huge change for most as often the first time away from home and being truly independent. Managing those changes well through food and lifestyle can be hugely beneficial. Understanding factors such as balancing blood sugar, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and exercise is important. Being able to cook is also hugely advantageous.
After several enquiries through The Food Teacher™ Clinic, we worked with some teenagers recently, which was great fun. The session was an opportunity to share some knowledge to support their understanding and to also get practical with some cost effective, nutritious simple recipes, which would keep anyone feeling nourished and healthy.
We started the session by talking about the Principles of Healthy Eating (Living) – Balance, Nourish, Real and Mindful. We talked about each one in great detail discussing what each principle means and how that would look across a weeks menu of food/meals.
Cooking from scratch is useful in so many ways as it’s far cheaper than ready meals and ensures a much more balanced diet. Pot noodles and microwave meals may sound quick and easy but they won’t support the body as much as first principle cooking and when we think about the importance of mental health cooking also provides an opportunity to de-stress and focus, which for many people is very mindful.
Having some key store cupboard staples to hand helps to ensure flavour and base ingredients when creating a meal, which often needs to made quickly when you’re hungry after a day of lectures/seminars/studying.
Our top tips include:
Tinned beans – cannellini, kidney beans, black beans, mixed
Coconut milk (thai curry, chocolate mousse)
Fish – Tuna, mackerel, sardines
Fruit (if nothing fresh in fridge)
Oil for cooking – extra virgin olive oil (don’t heat to smoking!)
Dried red lentils
Seeds (mixed, chia)
Stock – bouillon (chicken, veg)
Considering different meals is also important when you’re looking at ingredients and what you need for each meal. Some key recipe ideas for students include:
Porridge – add nuts/seeds (protein), fruit
Yoghurt and fruit
Eggs – scrambled, poached on toast
Harissa beans and poached egg – https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes/harissa-beans-with-poached-eggs
Leftovers from the night before
Lunch: When planning your plate – plan ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrates and a ½ vegetables. This is a great time to have salad – so either use the canteen or bring something with you.
Focus on protein and fibre and eating a rainbow.
Make up salad box/Buddha bowl from home.
If at home you could make soups – batch make and eat for 3 days or freeze.
Eat leftovers from night before.
Handful of nuts – walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts
Apple and nuts
Dinners (make larger portions for 2 days of meals):
Stir fry’s: lots of veg – add protein chicken, prawns
Chilli – meat or veg serve with rice or tortilla’s
Pasta and sauce – make sure you have protein – ham/cheese
Curries – thai, indian – veg and protein
Roast – chicken, potato and veg
Soups (batch make) – always include protein
Home made pot noodle – rice noodles, stock
Fish/chicken – cook in oven, roast veg
At our student session we rolled up our sleeves, donned aprons and got them cooking. With a budget of £15 we gave them a shopping bag and created enough food for 4 days. We made:
Carrot and Tarragon Soup (with cannellini beans for protein)
Vegetarian Chilli, with tortillas and sour cream
If you’re a student reading this take a look at the above recipes and go shopping with £15 grab the ingredients and have a go at home before you head off to University. If you’re a parent/carer/friend perhaps encourage someone to get practical before they go to help equip them with a lifelong tool that will support them through the years ahead.
If you’ve tried some easy, nutritious and cheap recipes that you’re keen to share please do let us know.
Good luck to all, have a fantastic time and take care of your health and well-being.
If you’d like to be armed or you’d like to arm them with some nutrition as they leave home don’t forget our Nutrition Boxes, especially our Womens Health, Men’s Health and Vegan Boxes. Order direct at The Food Teacher Shop.