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Living Gluten Free at University

Going to university is a challenge in itself. Adding Coeliac into the mix can turn it into a pretty stressful time, we have some fab top tips on how to keep costs down and live gluten free on a tight budget, some of these tips are great for at home as well as at uni.

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Living Gluten Free at University
Heading to university for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, even heading back for the second or third year can still be daunting, especially if you are moving from halls to a house.

I know, I've been to uni myself, granted, I commuted every day, but I watched my friends battle with the issue of money constantly over the time I was there and they didn't have Coeliac to contend with.

So, as a coeliac heading to university you are bound to face some hurdles that are hard to cross but there are ways of making your food cheaper.

One of our top tips is if you are fortunate enough to be in an area where gluten free products are still offered on prescription, this is a great way to lower your costs on staples such as bread and flour mixes

If you aren’t entitled to prescriptions that doesn’t mean you can’t live gluten free on a tight budget, we have some other top tips you can follow to make your food as inexpensive as possible.

1. Head to the supermarkets at night and aim for the reduced sections - fruit, vegetables and anything perishable usually end up reduced at 8pm ready for new stock to be put out overnight. There are a multitude of recipes you can create with simple and naturally gluten free ingredients. Over the winter months, soup is a must. Even with veg at full price, you can easily make a portion for less than 50p, with reduced veg you can easily half that (plus you can batch cook it and freeze it!). Why not try our carrot and coriander soup recipe, it works out at 48p a portion (based on prices at Asda for ingredients) and served with Juvela part baked rolls it is truly divine on a cold day! It's so easy to make with your house mates too and can be served chunky or smooth (if you have a blender).

2. Batch cook foods. If you have a freezer, double or triple everything you make and freeze in portions, it's cheaper to buy ingredients in bulk and by freezing meals you have some ready meals there for the days you don't have enough money left or don't have time to make anything.

3. Take out tends to be a staple after a uni night out but take away gluten free pizzas are so expensive, so why not use my favourite cheats pizza, a toastie version! If you use Juvela bread from your prescription you can fill with inexpensive tomato puree, cheese and your favourite pizza toppings. Use toaster bags if you don't have a separate toaster to prevent cross contamination (more cross contamination tips in a bit!) and you have an instant pizza, I swear I lived on these things at uni!

If you do want to have a night out though instead of making your own, a great tip is make the most of your NUS card, there are loads of restaurants you can use this student card at to obtain fantastic discounts, a fair few of which are Coeliac UK accredited.

4. Birthdays! You have to splash out even though you are on the tightest budget, so if you want to spend more on having a good time, when it comes to gluten free the only place you can cut the cost is the cake! Don't pay extortionate prices at the supermarket for a tiny one. Make one! At the same time you can teach your house mates about your requirements. By using Juvela White Mix from prescription (or your preferred gluten free flour if you can’t get prescriptions) and the recipe for a basic sponge on the back, you can make a cake for £2 or less, you only need a few basic ingredients to add to it and it will easily serve up to 10 people!

As well as following our tips for keeping your food costs as low as possible it is really important to avoid cross contamination, even small amounts of gluten can be damaging to coeliacs. It is always worth explaining to your house mates the importance of not contaminating your food, the more they understand the better! Here's 4 tips for helping prevent cross contamination in the student house.

1. Using labels and stickers can be highly beneficial especially when it comes to butter and your gluten free food so everyone knows what is yours straight off.

2. Try to keep a chopping board for yourself, you can buy cheap ones in most pound shops, you don't need anything extravagant. It just saves the hassle of making sure you got every crumb out the cracks (especially if it's a wooden board).

3. If you can get a cheap separate toaster this is a must or you can pick up toaster bags for £1 in supermarkets if you have to share a toaster, prevents your toast being contaminated while toasting.

4. Use foil on grill pans incase ‘gluteny’ items have been on it previously. When you've been out clubbing the night before and can't even remember what happened who knows what ended up under the grill!

A major top tip that will really help with both cost and cross contamination is everyone having the same meals, so many things are so easy to make naturally gluten free and cheap, bolognese sauce, cottage pie, chilli, soup etc. Minimise both factors at the same time while you all enjoy gorgeous food!

If you want more recipe ideas and tips on living as a Coeliac student take a look at the Juvela student pages, it is packed with some wonderful information.

University is hard enough without the issue of finding how to fund your next meal and eat safe. With some top tips, budgeting and making the most of prescriptions, you can easily cut the cost of gluten free and eat freely in your student accommodation. And you know what, these tips don't have to apply to just uni, if you are on a tight budget or house share, these tips are perfect for you too!

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