Lifestyle

22 Meal Ideas on a Student Budget | Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, and Supper 

I think I speak for all students when I say budgeting just comes naturally whether you like it or not 😂- except for the super rich kids who get 10k per month 😬. The rest of us try to spend wisely, mostly on food items as this is what is needed most on a monthly basis. However it can sometimes be heartbreaking to want a certain food, but not be able to afford it, or perhaps one can get stuck eating the same rice and stew for one week straight. However, meals do not have to be boring or monotonous on a student budget. So here I am, extending my love for food and sharing my meal ideas with you. It also helps that I’m a super saver! Please note that food prices may be different in South Africa and your nation, but most of the foods shared should be subsidised in most countries. 

In South Africa, the main staples are bread ( yes bread, you read right), rice, pasta, potatoes, cake flour and maize meal (fufu). So for me it’s very limiting compared to the 15+ staples we have back in Cameroon. There are also not a lot of vegetables compared to the variety we have back home. So over the years I’ve had to adjust to less, and learn how to prepare more caucasian, Indian and Kenyan dishes in addition to West African dishes to add variety. I’ve broken the post down into what I usually have for breakfast, lunch, snacks and supper. As this post is just to share meal ideas, I have not included any recipes. Let’s get started! I hope the yummy pictures make you hungry like they did to me, thanks to pinterest and Instagram 😁

Breakfast

Toast and Sunny side up egg

When I don’t have a lot of time for breakfast, I usually just fry a quick sunny side up egg with toast, munch it down, and I’m out.

Cereal

When I’m in a rush ( which is most times) I just have cereal for breakfast, mostly muesli with dried fruits and nuts. I find that it’s more filling compared to cornflakes or processed cereals. However muesli can be expensive, so I have it once in a while.

Omelette

When I do have time, I make an omelette which I either have with bread, french fries or fried sweet potatoes/ bananas ( since there are no plantains)

Pancakes

I can have pancakes for breakfast, lunch and supper 😂. They’re just super quick to make, with few ingredients and taste yum! 

Snacks 

I don’t have a particular time when I eat snacks. I get hungry quite quickly, so I always buy or make a few snacks.

Yogurt

I usually get a tub of yoghurt ( 1kg) , which lasts me 2+ week. Either I have it plain or with fruits. 

Confectionery

This is all the good stuff! I’m so blessed to live next to an affordable bakery. Literally it’s like every student’s second home! So once in a while I indulge in croissants, doughnuts and muffins. 

Biscuits

I don’t have biscuits too often, but I try have at least 1 pack in my cupboard to munch on when I come back home with an empty stomach still rallying up the energy to cook. Also nice to have incase I have a guest and no cooked food to offer 😅.

Lunch

Which Uni student has time for lunch right? Well this year I’ve been blessed with a lot more free time, so I actually have lunch now. I try keep it simple and quick, so that I don’t spend too much time preparing it or eating it. Sometimes I actually just have the previous night’s supper for lunch.

Baked beans and puff puff

Oh how I love beans! In SA canned baked beans is much cheaper than dried beans so hey, we do what we have to do. I usually cook it into a stew and add more species and have it with puff puff or another fried dough we make back home with bananas. 

We call these puff puff back home but I know it’s called other names in other African countries. In South Africa they call it amagwinya. A trick with puff puff if you don’t have much time for the yeast to rise is to use baking powder. It still tastes almost like the real deal 😉

Roti Wraps

Wraps are super quick to make and can be eaten with so many fillings. Chicken, beans, vegetables, cheese, mince, lentils. You can literally put the stew from last night into a wrap and have it for lunch😂. Thanks to the Indians in SA, Rotis can be found in most Indian shops. It’s similar to a tortilla wrap but much much cheaper. So I have this often, with a filling and salad.

Lentil curry

Here’s my other alternative to beans, to curb my cravings. Lentils are much cheaper than beans and cook faster too. I usually have it for lunch or  supper with rice, a roti wrap, chepati ( see below) or soaking garri 😂. 

Chepati

I learned how to make chepati from my Kenyan friend and it’s become something I eat often. Mostly because it can be eaten with most stews. It’s a simple shallow fry dough made from flour, water , salt and sugar. It’s the rolling and frying process that give you an arm work out. 

Supper

Supper time is usually when I have heartier meals – Simple meals though.

Rice and stir fry

It can be chicken stir fry, jeloff and stir fried vegetables, sausage stir fry. I just stir fry whatever meat is in the fridge

Sautéed spinach or cabbage

These are the two green vegetables most consumed in SA. Apart from these two the others are broccoli and kale. So no eru, njama njama, green, bitter leaf … 😭. I usually have my spinach with fufu or potato wedges and whatever meat I have ( mostly chicken). Red meat like beef and lamb are quite expensive, except for mince so I stick with chicken and mince.

Mixed vegetables

I’ve decided to stop buying frozen mixed vegetables because they just don’t taste as good as the commercials portray. I try buy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms. I add these into stews or just do stir fried mixed veg to eat with rice or sweet potato/ potato wedges.

Potato wedges/microwaved 

I’ve spoken enough about these😂. I just love potatoes. Maybe cause of the absence of dodo, yams, coco yams, cassava ( I’m going to cry now 😭). If there was dodo I’ll have no time for potatoes I’m sure. Other ways I eat potatoes – microwaved ( yes!). I literally just leave the potato in the microwave with the skin on for about 8 minutes. It comes out like it was baked. I prefer this to boiled potatoes cause it looses or gains no liquid and it’s also super quick. 

Rice and stew

Our number one ever reliable rice and stew 😂🙌. We are all familiar with this one in one form or the other no matter the culture. I sometimes use canned fish in my stew, when I can’t purchase meat, or just to add variety.

Pasta and mince

Pasta is very affordable in SA as one of thier staples. And so is mince. These are the two items I am always stocked up on. Both are quick to prepare, so most students live on pasta and mince😁. 

Egusi and garri

Nigerians call garri Eba yeah? Not sure what Ghanaians call it. Help!?. My mom gave me 2 packets of garri and 2 packets of egusi when I left home this past December. I’m down to 1 packet of garri now and that egusi won’t see the end of the year😂. Once in a while when the craving is real I take a trip back home. I literally eat that egusi with every possible thing before it finishes😂.

Groundnut soup

Back home we use dried groundnuts to make g-nut soup. But in SA I mostly use peanut butter. Again, saving time😅. But personally I think it tastes much better. The soup is smooth and thick of you like and has a rich peanut flavor, not grainy and watery. I mostly have this with rice.

Before bedtime

I have a cup of tea before bed. I’m not sure where this habit came from, but I think it’s cause I usually work late into the night. And so hunger is bound to strike. So it’s usually tea with a biscuit, slice of toast and peanut butter, or just more of that night’s supper😂.

And it’s a wrap! Are these the ideal meals I’d love to be eating? Not really to be honest😅. I miss home food so much and the West African food shops here are mad expensive. So I save my cravings till when I get home, then I eat something different everyday😊. If you have any more meal ideas please share, let’s help each other outchea 🙌. Thank you!

💓 Joan

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23 thoughts on “22 Meal Ideas on a Student Budget | Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, and Supper 

    1. Haha😂. Don’t expose me now. Let me just humble myself😂..I meant everytime the craving gets real I cook a home meal😁. Only get to go home once a year. But thank God for that cause some students out of thier home countries stay there for so many years before they can return home. So I guess there’s some richness there😂👀 hihi

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  1. To my knowledge we call garri, gari lol. I’ve noticed Nigerians have so many names for food, I try to keep up with it all. mmmm egusi soup is so good, so is pepper soup and gari is probably my favorite food to eat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loool ooh my ribs😂😂. Ghanaians call it Gari too, just minus one ‘r’ lool. And oh I looove pasta 😍more than rice even!
    In school I usually have oats with fruits such as mangos or bananas with a little honey.
    I haaaardly do lunch lol. If i do, i alternate with salads and a mixture of rice and plantain, either with beans or tomato stew.
    Evenings!! Tea all night, every night!😂😂

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  3. Spot on Yam! So many ideas that I don’t usually think about. I’m literally taking this to help make my shopping list. CHAPATI THOUGH JOAN.How did it make the list. That’s some hard core bicep tricep workout!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i love this!! thank you for sharing!! this is some good healthy food that i wouldn’t mind eating!!

    xoxo Nadine

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  5. Let me add my secret breakfast/snack …well maybe not such a secret- Apple slices with peanut butter 👌.
    Eba is a rolled swallow, made with hot water and dry garri usually to be eaten with the soups. Eba is also a name given from the Yoruba part of Nigeria. That’s the much I can say..lol but I guess this clears the misconception.
    Lovely post .

    http://www.ijefinelivin.com

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  6. Man, those beignets/puff puffs look amazing, it’s bringing back too many memories from Cameroon, maybe I shall stop complaining and actually make some. Thanks for the useful tips

    Liked by 1 person

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