Meals on a Budget (for students etc)

reading time: ca. 3 min

I share many recipes on my blog. Most of them are simple, some of them more time-consuming, some of them garnished with love. However, i only post 2 times a week usually, adding up to 8 posts a month. That means, you will only see a maximum of 2 meals out of 21 per week, or 8 meals out of 84 per month. The remaining 76 meals are not photographed, undocumented, and usually not very photogenic to be honest, lol.

So. I'm a student and i do not eat off brownies, cake, chocolate ice cream, truffles and pancakes (though i wouldn't mind too much).

Instead, i base my meals on plain carbs (oats, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa), vegetables (broccoli, peas, carrots, zucchini, PUMPKIN!) and fruits (banana, apples, pears, berries). And the best thing is: The least expensive food items - at least in my country - are rice, oats, potatoes, vegetables and bananas.

Besides money, another factor is time. Most of my meals will be easy and quick to make because i usually come home starving, and i don't have the nerve nor the time to spend 1 or 2 hours in the kitchen in order to prepare sushi rolls, pizza, falafel, burgers, banana bread or whatnot. So my "usual suspects" are something as shown in the picture above, simple but real tasty: potato wedges, steamed broccoli and roasted carrots.

As much as i love to include dates, nut butters, cacao powder, matcha powder, maca, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, stevia, coconut blossom sugar and quinoa in my recipes - you don't need them on a regular basis. Simplicity is key!

Here are some options for meals when you are on a budget, taken from the archive of "Maisy's unphotogenic pictures", along with some tips on how to save money:


Porridge / Oatmeal
Rice Pudding
Oatmeal Banana Pancakes
Nicecream (ice cream made of frozen bananas) 

watermelon :)
millet with creamy coconut soy yogurt and mango
Zoats (zucchini oatmeal) with pear purée and fresh fruit
porridge with fresh strawberries and a damn juicy mango
Porridge with banana & shredded coconut, topped with coconut soy yogurt & frozen raspberries
Coconut Rice Pudding with fresh raspberries, cinnamon & applesauce
Oatmeal Pancakes
Oats with strawberry banana mylk
Chocolate Chia Pudding

TIP: To nip overspending and buying unnecessary items in the bud, create a monthly budget, and write your weekly grocery list based on it. That way, if you overbuy during the first or second week of the month, you can balance out your budget by making smarter decisions during weeks three and four. Be flexible though and buy what's in season! Take advantage of deals and discounts. 

If the fruits and veggies on your shopping list are out of season, buying them frozen or canned is a great money-saving option. Canned or frozen items have a much longer shelf-life than their fresh counterparts, so you can buy them in bulk if they are on sale and not have to worry about them going bad. Many frozen and canned vegetables are equally as nutritious as their fresh versions. However, canned food usually contains more preservatives, salt and sugar than fresh fruits and vegetables. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice with no added sugars, and vegetables labeled "low sodium" or "no salt added".

Plan your meals and snacks for the week according to the established budget. By including on your grocery list only the meals you plan to cook that week, will save money by buying only what you need, limiting frivolous purchases in the process. 

Also, buy groceries when you are not hungry and when you are not too rushed, otherwise you are very likely to make unhealthy choices. Stick to your grocery list, and stay out of the aisles that don't contain items on your list, so you won't be tempted.

Lunch & Dinner

3 Simple Summer Salads
7 Cooked Salads
7 Rice Dishes
Rice Veggie Stir-Fry
Tomato Chickpea Curry
Tomato Soup
Potato Fries / Sweet Potato Fries
Potato Pasta 
Carrot Pasta
Roasted Carrots 
Mango Summer Salad

veggie rice bowl
salt free and oil free sweet potato fries with freshly grounded black pepper, rosemary & cherry tomatoes & some smoked tofu & baby spinach
beans, salad and potatoes with salt
steamed broccoli, zucchini and potato with organic ketchup
oven baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchini with curry dip
steamed vegetables with Hummus
organic potatoes & zucchini stuffed with tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, herbs & onions
oven baked carrots, zucchini & potatoes (no fat, just some sunflower seeds, herbs & veggies)
oven roasted potato chips & steamed carrots, sweet potato & kohlrabi & herbal dip
steamed broccoli, steamed sweet potato & turmeric rice
Pumpkin Soup
basmati rice & kidney beans with PB2 sauce (PB2 dissolved in water)
sweet potato kidney bean curry with steamed broccoli and basmati rice
basmati rice with veggie stir fry & sweet corn
Vegetable Stir Fry
rice with Tomato Ginger Chickpea Curry
banana carrot date coconut salad
banana carrot raisin almond salad
glazed roasted carrots with sunflower seeds, hummus and sprouts (below)

Rather than tossing leftovers, incorporate them into your next meal. Leftover vegetables can be added to a casserole or blended to make soup, leftover rice can be turned into fried rice with veggies. Leftover or overripe fruit is perfect for making smoothies or bakingIf you've got a bit of plain yogurt and some milk, you can make more yogurt - this also applies to soy or other plant-based products as well of course. 
Go to a site like AllRecipes and use the "search by ingredient" feature to find recipes using what you've got on hand.

To get more mileage out of your meals, double or triple up on recipe ingredients to make more portions. The extra food can then be divided into individual portions, then placed into meal-sized containers and frozen. 

To keep yourself from getting bored with eating "rice every night" (or whatever your fallback entree is), set up a plan for variety, such as:
Potato based
Pasta or rice based
Oat based
Raw day
Beans and legumes

Having a template to fill in forces you to be a bit creative and keeps your menus from being boring. Look at the weekly specials at the grocery store and plan accordingly. Seek out some new recipes to keep the creative juices flowing.

Snack & Dessert

Chocolate Pudding
Baked Apples
Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Carrot Cake
Coconut Date Rolls
Apple slices with peanut butter or cinnamon
Bananas dipped in peanut butter or date mash/sauce
Fresh veggie slices dipped in hummus

carrot sticks, chicory and baby spinach with Curry Hummus
Oatmeal Waffles
Coconut Date Rolls
Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Pudding with fresh fruit
plain nicecream with blueberries
green smoothie (with chia seeds)
nana ice cream

Buying items in bulk or as family packs usually cost less, but in some instances, such as with fresh vegetables and fruits, buying in bulk can end up costing you, because they don't keep well and may go bad before you have a chance to eat them all. Buy easily perishable foods in small amounts to ensure that you eat them before they spoil. For some perishable items such as bananas, berries and even bread, freezing and then thawing as needed is always an option that allows for buying in bulk. 

Think of fruits and vegetables as being in four color groups: yellow/orange, green, blue/purple, and red. Your goal for healthy eating should be to eat from a mixture of the color groups throughout the week, or ideally every day. Keep this in mind as you plan your menus and experiment with some new vegetables! EAT YOUR RAINBOW.

It's so easy! Simple, pure, plain fruits and vegetables and clean carbs like millet, oats, potatoes, rice. Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form because any pre-cut, pre-washed or ready-to-eat vegetables or fruit are sold at steeper prices than those in their basic forms. While it may take a few extra minutes, your wallet will thank you for washing and chopping your produce at home. 
So, stick to these staples and you'll be fine, both health-, time- and money-wise :)