In a recent post I talked about looking after your health while you’re studying. Eating well is one of the most important and often one of the most neglected elements in staying healthy. Here are some budget-friendly, easy tips for a healthy student diet.

When I am studying abroad I need to plan my diet based on the facilities available in my student accommodation. London has several different options from a homestay where you can choose a meal plan that includes home cooked meals to Halls of Residence and flat shares where you’ll be self-catering.


Self-catering means access to a fully equipped kitchen in your student accommodation. London is divided into lots of different neighbourhoods and there is usually a local High Street with a range of well stocked supermarkets, fruit and vegetable stores and sometimes even a butcher. I have never had problems with access to shops nearby when I have to prepare my own meals.

A Few Basic Tips

Don’t be tempted to rely on ready-made meals. They may not be good for you and they can be expensive. I ask any new friends I meet in my student accommodation if we can cook together – that way you share the costs and you get to eat healthier foods.

In the first few days I will buy some general ingredients to store in my cupboard so that I can cook a few very basic meals. This is the list that I use:

  • Tea and coffee
  • Milk
  • Dried mixed herbs/spices
  • Stock cubes
  • Pesto (for a quick pasta sauce)
  • Garlic
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • Pasta, rice, noodles and couscous (choose wholegrain ones)
  • Cereals for breakfast
  • Plain flour
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned fruit (in fruit juice not syrup)
  • Canned pulses such as beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Canned fish e.g. tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines

Half and Full Board

Even if you are getting breakfast and dinner because you’ve chosen a meal plan with a homestay for your student accommodation, lunch is not normally provided so this can be a good opportunity to see what London has to offer!  You’ll need to have plans for eating well at midday. It’s cheaper to prepare something to take so even if I only have limited use of a kitchen I try to make sandwiches for my lunches. Here are a few ideas for sandwiches that I’ve used in the past.

Wholemeal wraps or wholemeal pitta or bagels can be a healthier alternative to bread (and often taste better). My favourite fillings include tuna, chicken, turkey or cottage cheese with some salad.

You should be aware that sliced bread in the UK has fewer preservatives than bread in other countries so I always store mine in a refrigerator or buy half loaves so that it doesn’t go off before I can finish it.

A Few Dos and Don’ts

Finally there are a few general points that will help you with a healthy diet when you are studying in London.

  • If you need an energy boost try to eat nuts, dried fruits or cereal bars rather than fast burning carbohydrates.
  • Stay hydrated. If you are partying at night and drinking alcohol you need to drink lots of water throughout the day. Be aware that you can drink tap water in London, so there’s no need to spend money on bottled water.
  • Try to moderate your alcohol intake.
  • In the UK they recommend 5 portions of fruit or veg per day. Try to get as close to this as you can.

Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive or a chore when you are living in student accommodation. London is full of corner shops selling an array of global ingredients – I learned how to use Indian spices during one of my semesters here. It’s all part of the rich experience of studying abroad. So start cooking!

Are You Having Difficulty Choosing The Right Student Accommodation For You?”]Whether you want to cook for yourself or enjoy meals with a host family, Britannia Student Services has a range of accommodation options and meal plans. Get in touch with our team so that we can help you find the most suitable place for your stay in London.