Student food: Budgeting, Eating Well & Avoiding Waste

This guest blog comes from the brilliant Lauren Leyva, also known as @the.starving.student on Instagram. Lauren has built a superb platform to help people eat healthily on a budget, with loads of tasty recipes and short videos on all things food related. We are releasing a podcast next week to talk about all the topics in this piece in more detail, so stay tuned for that. Make sure you check out Lauren’s website as well: LW


Food. We love to buy it, eat it and enjoy it. Budgeting, eating well and avoiding food waste can be difficult to do all at once, but my mission is to make that simpler.

I’m Lauren, I’m 22 and I’m known as The Starving Student. My aim is to show students and young professionals how to eat well on a budget whilst avoiding food waste across a range of meaty, fishy, vegetarian and vegan recipes. What started out as a small student food Instagram account has now become my own brand which I am able to share my student dishes, recipes and tips for around the student home.


Tomato Spaghetti - GRID Cover Post


Over the past few years there has been a much larger focus on the need to avoid food waste and it is something I focus on. Every year a huge amount of food is wasted and there are millions of people around the world living in food poverty. Although you might not think that changing your own habits may have any impact, if everyone makes the changes then change will start to happen. It’s not about some people being perfect… it’s about lots of us making improvements.

The current COVID-19 situation initially caused a drastic change in our food shopping habits with supermarket shelves being stripped bare and some people hoarding store cupboard ingredients. Throughout lockdown I also saw a huge rise in the number of my followers asking me about how to make new recipes using their odd fridge leftovers bits of food that would have otherwise gone in the bin. This is where I come in… enter, The Starving Student.

If there is something popular about my recipes, it’s that they are easy, super cheap to make and that they are easy to use your leftover ingredients in. Read on to see some of my main tips about both budgeting and reducing the food you waste.




Upgrade your leftovers

An important tip I always share is to make sure your leftover food and ingredients are used up. There are several ways in which you can make this easier. The first way is to use your leftovers up in a new recipe. The second way is to freeze your leftover portions so you can defrost it when you fancy that specific meal. The third is to upgrade your leftovers by adding some extra punchy ingredients (maybe some fresh herbs, an egg, some chilli flakes or a splash of vinegar).

Plan your shop

The best way to stay on a budget is to plan your food shop before going out. You’ll avoid impulse buying and only spend money on the food you actually need. Another very important tip is to not shop when you are hungry…you can see where this is going!

Bulk Buying

Bulk-buying dry store-cupboard ingredients such as oats, rice, pasta, herbs & spices saves money in the long run and reduces the number of supermarket visits you have to make.

High cost vs low cost

There are several key tips for saving money like avoiding luxury brands and choosing cheaper cuts of meat, which can save you a lot of money in the long term. If you want to save that extra bit of cash, look at the bottom supermarket shelves (where the cheapest products are located) and look at the ‘cost per 100g’… this is the real way to compare products’ value for money. Look for the small writing on product labels on the supermarket shelves (you’ll thank me later).




Batch Cooking

One of my biggest tips is to be organised and cook in batches. Batch cooking is perfect for lunches (to take into university or work), and for dinners. There are so many ingredients, spices and herbs that can be put together to make delicious meals. Making several portions at once allows you to quickly heat up one serving at a time, giving you much more time each evening to study or relax.

Not only does batch cooking save time, it also is very likely to save you money. Some of my dinner recipes include Moroccan Chicken & Veg, Shepherd’s Pie, Tomato Pasta, Herb-Roasted Butternut Squash.  I also have a huge variety of lunch dishes, great for eating either hot or cold including soups, salads, pastas and many more.

Your turn

My main aim is to inspire students to go out, buy fresh ingredients and try to create new dishes they haven’t tried before. It’s so important to be able to cook independently, so on your next food shop, choose a recipe you love, cook it up and then use up any leftovers… don’t let any go to waste!

If you want some drool-worthy recipes to test out yourself or lots more general tips about all things food, head over to @the.starving.student on Instagram.


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