It’s no secret that college students often don’t have a lot of money. Doing everything on the cheap, from sharing living space to abiding by a strict budget, is paramount to survival. While it’s tempting to live on vending machine snacks (i.e. the stuff that a stack of quarters otherwise amassed for laundry day can buy), it’s healthier to learn a few good recipes that provide more than empty calories. Luckily, help exists from cooks like television personality Rachael Ray, well-known for her quick meal preparation suggestions. Take a homework break, and try out some of these meal tips guaranteed to fit your college schedule and your student budget!
1.) Trust in pasta. Boil a pot of noodles and get inventive with sauces for variety beyond spaghetti with marina. Recipes abound, including Ray’s Garden Pasta. Gluten-free pastas are available online and from most natural foods stores for those with dietary restrictions.
2.) Go green. Salads are a great low-cost option for meals. Pile on the spinach leaves and add raw veggies, tuna, and beans. Mix up a tasty vinaigrette – starting with extra virgin olive oil – or EVOO, to coin a Ray-ism – and modify from there.
3.) Hamburger, hamburger, hamburger. Whether made of ground chuck or vegetarian-friendly portabella, you can’t go wrong with one of the world’s most stress-free sandwiches. Break out the ciabatta, Dijon mustard, and fixin’s and get to chowing down.
44. ) Casserole. Be inventive with your casserole dish, and make a great meal, such as chicken enchiladas or lasagna, that can be made in advance and stored all week. Nibble away as the week goes on, knowing that you can grab a piece and pop it into a Tupperware for a snack or meal between classes.
5.) Make a date with a spud. Baked, mashed, or cut into tasty fries, options abound for noshing on potatoes. Keep it simple with a dab of butter and a little plain yogurt (a sour cream alternative) or add a mountain of toppings. I recommend broccoli or trying Ray’s Reuben-Stuffed Mini Potatoes.
6.) Soup’s on! Soups serve the budget conscious well: they can be prepared well in advance and frozen and they fit into meals year-round. Think vegetable soup in the winter and vichyssoise or gazpacho in the summer.
7.) Slllllow cooking. A crock-pot might just be your best investment as a student – aside from that education you’re already paying for. Pick up The Crock Pot Connoisseur Book to start a meal in the morning, coming home to a ready-to-eat dinner after a long day on campus. Ray’s Beef Stew sounds like a winner to us.
8.) Breakfast for dinner! Mix up a good omelet and add in just about any combination of ingredients for a fast and delicious meal, which is especially handy when it’s about time to clear out the fridge, lest the vegetables are planning a coup.
9.) Burrito bonanza. For roughly the same amount of money you would spend getting a drive-through enchilada, stock up on black beans, tortillas, cheese, and more for your own Mexican night at home. There are no limits to the goodness you can wrap up for a handy snack.
10.) And... then there’s pizza. No, not via delivery. Grab a pre-made crust at the store and start piling on the goodness. For variety, try making the vegetable version (read: raw veggies and shredded cheese) that’s popular at parties. Though it’s not quite pizza, Ray’s Cheeseburger Bread sounds pretty divine.
Not everyone enjoys cooking, we know, but these options will hopefully provide inspiration for students who don’t think their few dollars will buy much. Pick up your pots, pans, and spatulas, plan just a bit in advance and reap the rewards, knowing your meals are taken care of and you’re free to focus on your studies.
Chi Norris is a writer and visual artist who likes painting, poetry, and reading memoirs. She graduated with a B.A. in English and writes on behalf of American Intercontinental University's online MBA program. She also blogs for artroommelody.com.
Want to contribute by becoming an iGrad author yourself? Let us know!