Eating Healthy on a Student Budget in Thessaloniki

June 2, 2024

As a student, it can be daunting to think about how to budget and plan meals around classes and clinics. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Free/Affordable Meals in the School Cafeteria (Leschi/Λέσχη)

At Aristotle University, there are two cafeterias which students can go to for any meal of the day. They open at specific times for each meal of the day, so be sure to check for posting outside the building to confirm. 

There is a lower campus leschi (Google Maps link), which is normally busier and at peak hours you might even have to wait in line for a few minutes. For now, to eat at this cafeteria you have to sign up by reaching out to the AUSOM secretary team. At the upper campus leschi (Google Maps link), they are a bit more flexible with regulations; students just walk in, get their meal, and leave. Many students will go by themselves, or you can grab a group of friends and go together!

If the word “free” hasn’t already sparked your interest, here are some REAL photos of the delicious food that you might encounter there:

Leschi Hours of Operation: Every Day Including Weekends

Breakfast: 8:30AM-10:00AM

Lunch: 12:00PM-4:00PM

Dinner: 6:00PM-9:00PM

The Weekly Menu can be found here.

Feel free to contact myself or any member of IMSoG to help you with this process or if you have any questions.

Cooking for Beginners

One of the best ways to save money is, of course, cooking. But that requires planning, time, and cooking skills which don't come easy! However, once you find a few staple balanced dishes, or even invest in an air fryer which can cook things quicker, it can certainly lessen the burden. For lunch, a salad (my favourite is pasta salad with tuna and arugula), a sandwich, and yoghurt with nuts and berries are all easy to bring with you to school. They’re also quick to prepare in the morning or even the night before. The internet is your friend: simple recipes, which tell you all of the ingredients you need and how long it will take you to finish, can help you manage cooking if you feel you don't know where to start. 

Personally, I love this website (link here) by a famous Greek chef, Akis Petretzikis - it has traditional Greek recipes, along with other international meals, and the recipes normally include written and video instructions, along with measurements in both metric and imperial systems. Not to mention, Akis doesn’t have a terrible face to look at, which I’m sure could make even the most tired student motivated to cook. 

Additionally, the Mediterranean diet in Greece is a major factor in their high life expectancy, so take advantage of it! Personal fun fact - my great grandmother is 97 and she has lived in Thessaloniki her whole life. As they say in a famous Greek ad: Τυχαίο; Δε νομίζω! (Pure luck? Don’t think so!) 

If you eat out, try to stick to traditional Greek tavernas, which will likely be easier on your wallet, and full of vegetables, fish, and healthy oils. Ultimately, if you do your best to buy fresh produce from the manaviko (greengrocer/produce shop) or even better, at the weekly λαϊκή (street market every week in most neighbourhoods of Thessaloniki),  ensure your meals have variety (grains, proteins, vitamins from veggies, healthy fats) even when you go out, and foster community through cooking or sharing meals with others, you will be in a great place as a student trying to eat healthy in Thessaloniki.

Written by Kallisti St. John, Publications Coordinator, 1st Year Medical Student at Aristotle University School Of Medicine