Five-a-day, everyday

Rachel Rees Middleton 27 November 2016

Getting your five-a-day is rarely a priority for students, but it was one of the challenges I set for myself for my first term at Cambridge. Welcoming more fruit and vegetables into your diet is actually far less expensive and time consuming than is generally realised, and devouring vitamin-packed produce is an excellent way to counter a guilty conscience derived from excessive chocolate consumption.

Snacking on fruit is an obvious way to include it in your diet, but actually choosing an apple over chocolate or cake is easier said than done! Putting the fruit at eye level in the fridge means it will catch your eye next time you grab the milk for a cup of tea, and you’ll be more likely to pick it up.

On your way to the supermarket, do some mental meal-planning to make sure you buy sufficient fruit and vegetables for the coming week. If your gyp fridge has limited room, tinned, pre-cooked vegetables are a cheap and convenient alternative to fresh produce, costing as little as 10p per serving. Fruit and vegetables which are reduced because they have reached their ‘best before’ date will still remain fresh for a few more days, and might encourage you to try new recipes – yesterday, I made soup for the first time after I found a packet of soup mix containing four portions for the same price as one ready-made tin.

Consider adding vegetables to the meals which you usually cook for dinner for additional texture and flavour. Pasta with tomato sauce is the tried-and-tested student favourite, but it is not exactly exciting to eat; adding chopped peppers, onions or sweetcorn to the sauce while the pasta is cooking is the easiest way to change this and enables you to rack up your daily quota. Preparing two or three portions takes just as much time as one, so make extra and use the surplus as ‘ready meals’ for coming lunchtimes.

Most importantly, getting experimental in the kitchen will ensure you don’t even know you are eating healthily: risotto, stir fry and curry are tasty, cheap and healthy dishes which can be made in your gyp, but are the opposite of stereotypical bland student cooking!