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The DW guide to Food Cupboard Essentials for the Healthy Student

So you’ve just got back to Uni, or perhaps you’ve gone for the first time. Your maintenance grant has just hit your account and anyway those nice people at the bank have given you an overdraft. So much and so many things to spend it on. But we’re going to suggest you invest some of it – not in stocks and shares but in stocking up the larder.


A feast in store?

feast store

Listed below are some store-cupboard essentials that will mean you’ll never go hungry. We recommend online shopping as it helps you stick to your budget because there’s no temptation to pick up items that aren’t on your shopping list. Special offers and multi-buy savings are published on line so you don’t miss out on any cheap deals just because you don’t go to the supermarket. Some sites offer free delivery at off-peak times so look out for these slots and if you are going to use one supermarket regularly sign up for their loyalty card as the points will soon mount up.



Egg Noodles
Just cover in boiled water and leave to soften for 5 minutes, strain and use. Useful in stir fry’s, soups, or just with a sweet chilli sauce and left over chicken or vegetables

Brown/wholemeal varieties are the healthier choice.

Try brown rice as it’s healthier. Most cooking instructions will advise you to boil the rice – usually takes about 20 minutes but rice can be steamed, baked in the oven covered in water with a foil top or made into a risotto or even use cold as a salad.

so easy to cook just cover with boiled water, wait 4-5 minutes. Can be used hot or cold with chopped vegetables, meat, fish, herbs, spices etc the possibilities are endless.


Tea and coffee

Beware of the sugar content, I really don’t recommend buying the low sugar varieties as they are full of chemicals and horrid stuff.  Fizzy water or plain water with a slice of lemon or lime really quenches thirst without adding sugar.

milk butter


keep a watch on the use by date otherwise your fridge will smell disgusting!

Although butter is a bit more expensive than margarine it is a much healthier option

Use to make a quick meal, omelette, frittata, scrambled, boiled etc

Quick and easy to use and nibble, can be a lazy snack. As it’s full of saturated fat limit to just a couple of times a week.

Natural or Greek yoghurt
Use instead of mayonnaise. Blend with milk and fruit to make a smoothies, or mix with grated zest and lemon juice and a little honey to make a refreshing Greek Yoghurt breakfast or dessert.

Salad, fruit and vegetables
Buy as you need them, look out for special offers but aim to include these foods at every meal.



I know it’s possible you’ve only got a small freezer or an ice-compartment – so I’ve kept this section small.

Full of nutrients, keep up the vegetable portions. Defrost by pouring on boiling water, leave for 2 minutes, strain and when needed pour on more boiling water, leave 1 minute, strain and serve- it’s easier than boiling. Honest.

Pitta Breads
Preferably wholemeal. Defrost in the toaster. Stuff and bake, use as pizza bases, serve with dips, or toast pull apart and toast the raw side to make crispy bread.

Keep a wholemeal sliced loaf in the freezer and just use slices as you need it – can be toasted from frozen.

Buy when on offer- Defrost by placing in a sieve, run under cold water, till soft. Use in salads, sarnies, curries, stir-fry etc


Cooking is the new ‘porn’

It’s cool to cook and cooking programmes have got so popular on TV that food almost seems to be the new ‘porn’. Cooking is a great stress reliever and a brilliant way to make friends and have some wonderful social occasions – and you will be keeping your body fit and healthy at the same time. It’s a smart skill to develop too as you can cook for friends and get them to share the cost of the meal. Tell them upfront what they’ll be having and what it will cost. Also ask them to bring their own plate and cutlery and tell them they’re doing the washing up. You’ll find you eat better, cheaper and have a houseful of mates!!



Sweet corn
Get the no sugar, no salt ones. Mix with tuna and Greek yoghurt for a healthy and tasty jacket filling or on bread as an open sandwich or salad accompaniment.

Baked Beans
Comfort food, a good source of protein and can be used in so many recipes or alone on toast.

You can make your own, but I always have one tin in for when time is short – great to take with you on cold days.

You can get 3 tins for around a pound. Kidney, cannellini, black eye, broad bean, flageolet, etc are great for a meat substitute or can make meat go further when added to casseroles, chillies, soups etc. plus can be pureed in to a tasty dip.

Chick peas
Same as above, or make fresh hummus or add to salads, curried up, mixed with natural yogurt, a fresh chilli and a spoon of chutney for a quick jacket filling.

Plum tomatoes
You can pick these up very cheaply, great for making salsa, pizza topping, bolognaise sauce, casseroles – make sure you keep at least 2 tins in your cupboard

Pineapple rings and apricot halves
For a quick dessert, but mostly for an easy sweet and sour sauce, can be added to pizza toppings, stir-fry, sauces, casseroles, smoothies. The good news is that tinned fruit still counts towards 5 a Day, and it’s better than no fruit or vegetables, try to buy in natural juice and not syrup.

Tuna, Sardines
Great for quick suppers

Coconut milk
Useful in Thai curries

Dry Stores and sauces


Olive oil
The best oil to cook with and you only need a little. It’s also good for dressings.

Thai sweet chilli sauce
Bought in bottle and has heaps of uses -mix with yoghurt for a quick dip, as a marinade, salad dressing, add to stir fry’s or use just as a dip on its own.

Tomato ketchup is seriously good for you so don’t just use it on chips or wedges, or your bacon sarnie,  it can be the main ingredient in a quick sweet and sour sauce and Italian dishes.

For the chips and sweet and sour sauce, buy malt vinegar but white wine vinegar is also useful to have for salad dressings – it’s great for cleaning too.

For meats, marinades, dips and sauces.

Light soy
Use to flavour dark sauces, marinades and B.B.Q’s and stir-fries

Stock cubes
Buy chicken and vegetable to add flavour to soups, stews, gravy’s

You can’t cook without Salt and Pepper- preferably ground black pepper.

Thai red curry paste and a Pataks curry paste
knock up a chicken or fish curry in less than 20 minutes

Block coconut
For Thai curry, smoothes, sweet curries etc.

Curry powder and chilli powder

Plain flour is useful for many dishes not just cakes and I also recommend rice flour to thicken sauces and gravy.

for your guests and the odd cake baking moment.

Porridge, muesli and granola – have a selection of breakfast options so you will never get bored – these options are all great to add fresh or dried fruit to.

Nuts keep a selection of unsalted nuts, for cereals, desserts, smoothes, desserts, stir-fry, and salads or just as a snack. Don’t eat loads, as they are very calorific. 4 Brazil nuts gives you the RDA for Magnesium and Selenium,

A hand full a day, boosts your health. Add to cereals, salads etc.

Dried Fruit
1 portion of dried fruits counts as 1 a day. Try dried cranberries, apples, mango, paw paw, pineapple, raisins, sultanas etc buy the no added sugar ones - beware they still contain natural sugars (fructose).


Not so much a necessity, but a nice touch to desserts, cereals, smoothes, curries, marinades, B.B.Q foods- any dishes you want to sweeten up naturally.

For your toast, don’t leave home without breakfast; but due to high sugar content it’s a treat!

Peanut butter
Makes a great satay sauce, great with all meats, kebabs and salads. Can be used in smoothies or just on toast - as with jam use as a treat.

Greek yoghurt  can be used as an alternative, but it’s useful to have for potato wedges or mixed with garlic as a dip or used on salads.

Ragu Sauce
Brilliant for emergency quick sauces

Curry sauces
Buy the one that suits your taste – this can be used in all Indian dishes from curries to dips a brilliant invention!


My kids’ recommendations are:

From Pasta to Pancakes:
The Ultimate Student Cookbook by Quadrille

Best Ever Student Cookbook –
S.J. Hartland, Grace Ward (Brown Dog Books)

Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook:
Survive in Style on a Budget and another one by Sam,
Georgeous food for Skint Students.

Amazon has many great bargains on used cook books.

Happy shopping,

About Michele Nowell our Wellgood Food Guru

Michele is a Nutritional Therapist with a son and a daughter just out of University. She passionately believes in the healing power of nature and nutrition. She is a qualified Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist  working with an integrated approach to healing that focuses on  the whole person. Her work is all about educating, empowering and supporting her clients to tap into their own innate healing abilities and restore balance and wellbeing. She is also a well being coach and specialises in supporting clients suffering from ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia back to recovery.

If you would like to consult Michele on any of the above problems you can contact he via her website