5 Easy Recipes For Independent Students

10 Easy Recipes Every Independent Student Should Know

How to feed yourself without breaking the bank.


So you're living off-campus this year in an apartment or other housing-congratulations! With this new freedom, however, comes new responsibilities, such as keeping the place clean, getting where you need to go, and feeding yourself without the aid of a meal plan. For some students, especially those without cooking experience, this can be a daunting task. Many of these students spend an inordinate amount of money on prepackaged food or eating out, which can quickly eat through whatever budget you've set aside.

Not to worry, however, as there are plenty of easy ways to prepare food with little to no cooking experience. Cooking for yourself saves money in the long run, especially when you consider that a $6 cooked meal will often yield 3 or more portions, which means less cooking in turn. From slow-cooked meals, to sandwiches and savory salads, cooking for yourself opens up a whole new world of culinary opportunities. With these simple recipes, you'll be cooking in no time, saving money while doing it.

1. Pot Roast

Truly one of the cornerstones of the working man's diet, the humble pot roast is a meal that's easy to prepare and is cooked throughout the day in a crock-pot or other slow cooker. This method frees up your day to make room for other obligations and results in a hot meal waiting when you return.

Step 1: Generously season your roast (preferably chuck) with salt and pepper before transferring to a hot skillet for searing.

Step 2: Sear the roast evenly and on all sides for about 4 minutes, or until browned.

Step 3: Prepare your vegetables by chopping whole carrots, onion, and celery. Peel and cube one whole potato for the roast.

Step 4: Transfer the roast to your slow cooker before adding about 1 cup of water (chicken stock works great too!) along with chopped carrots, onion, celery, and potato.

Step 5: Add one packet of dry onion soup, evenly coating the top of the roast. Cover and cook on your pot's low setting for at least 7 hours. Feel free to up the temperature for faster cooking.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pot_roast/

2. Spaghetti Bolognese

The most iconic dish in Italian cuisine, this spaghetti is quick to prepare and even easier to assemble.

Step 1: Cook approximately 1 pound of fresh-ground beef in a skillet, occasionally chopping and stirring to cook evenly.

Step 2: Drain the beef on a paper towel while preparing your noodles of choice.

Step 3: Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil before cooking your pasta for around 5-10 minutes.

Step 4: Microwave about a half-cup of preferred pasta sauce, before adding it to your beef. Stir well for an even coating.

Step 5: Plate your spaghetti and top with your fresh bolognese sauce.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://www.recipetineats.com/spaghetti-bolognese/

3. Hot Dogs

A classic all-American food. These dogs are super simple to cook, and impossible to mess up

Step 1: Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a rolling boil over the stove.

Step 2: Add your sausages, taking care to only add a few at a time, preferably 3-5.

Step 3: Cook for about 5 minutes before transferring the sausages to a skillet for searing.

Step 4: Cook evenly for about 30 seconds to 1 minute before serving.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/chicago-style-hot-dogs-25972

4. Tacos

These tacos are super versatile and take only a few minutes to prepare.

Step 1: Cook approximately 1 pound of fresh-ground beef in a skillet, occasionally chopping and stirring to cook evenly.

Step 2: Add 1 packet of taco seasoning, mixing to evenly distribute.

Step 3: Drain on a paper towel while preparing tortillas.

Step 4: Heat your preferred tortilla in a skillet until warm and crisp, flipping to heat evenly.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/chicken-watermelon-tacos-3364575

5. Slow Cooked Meatballs

These have quickly become a favorite slow cooker recipe of mine, and for good reason. Extremely simple to prepare and delicious!

Step 1: Create your meatballs, or purchase pre-formed ones at the store. For homemade meatballs, combine equal parts raw ground beef and pork with basil, onion, and seasoning.

Step 2: Sear the meatballs in a skillet, turning evenly until browned.

Step 3: Transfer the meatballs to your slow cooker and add a few crushed tomatoes. Simmer on low for several hours.

Step 4: Plate and serve the meatballs with a sauce or pasta of your choice!

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://chefsavvy.com/slow-cooker-italian-meatballs/

 6. Grilled Cheese With Ham and Apples

This is a tasty twist on the classic grilled cheese, with only a few extra steps.

Step 1: Butter one side of 2 bread slices

Step 2: Place one slice butter-side down in a pan, topping with cheese, ham, and sliced apple.

Step 3: Place remaining slice on top, butter-side up, then flip and grill before serving.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/grilled-cheese-ham-apples-210132.aspx

 7. Simple Caesar Chicken Salad

A lighter option for the healthy diet, this chicken caesar salad is fresh and quick to prepare.

Step 1: Prepare your base by tearing roughly 6 cups of romaine lettuce.

Step 2: Add 1 pound cooked boneless skinless chicken breast. This can be bought pre-cooked from the store ahead of time.

Step 3: Add 2 cups seasoned salad croutons.

Step 4: Add 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese.

Step 5: Add preferred amount of caesar dressing before tossing and serving.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/quick-chicken-caesar-salad/

8. Quick N' Easy Fried Chicken

This easy fried chicken is the perfect dish for when you're feeling a bit more adventurous with your cooking, but don't want to go too crazy.

Step 1: Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Step 2: In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs and set aside. In another large bowl, add 1 cup of flour.

Step 3: Coat the chicken in egg and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Set coated pieces aside and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Step 4: Heat 1 inch of oil to 375° in a large frying pan or Dutch oven.

Step 5: Working in small batches, gently place the chicken in the hot oil and fry on both sides until crispy and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes on each side.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/easy-fried-chicken

9. Twice-Baked Potatoes

We all love a good mashed potato, don't we? These twice-baked potatoes put a twist on the concept by including that irresistible potato shell, and make a perfect addition to any main course.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Step 2: Bake potatoes for 1 hour after rubbing with a bit of canola oil.

Step 3: Slice butter into pats and combine with bacon bits and sour cream.

Step 4: Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, scooping out the inside but leaving the shell for support.

Step 5: Mash potato into butter mixture, add cheese, milk, seasoned salt, green onions and black pepper to taste and mix together well.

Step 6: Fill potato shell with filling and bake for 15-20 minutes.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/twice-baked-potatoes-recipe-1925596

10. No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

These bars make a perfect dessert for any occasion. The advantage of refrigeration over baking is that these bars can be prepared in about 10 minutes and be ready within the evening.

Step 1: Line a 8x8 or 9x9 square baking pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, and 1 cup powdered sugar together until combined. Stir in 3/4 cup of peanut butter. Spread into prepared baking pan.

Step 3: In a small bowl, microwave 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter with the chocolate chips until melted. Stir until smooth. Spread over peanut butter layer.

Step 4: Chill until completely firm, at least 3 hours. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting.

Step 5: Bars stay fresh for 5-7 days stored in the refrigerator. Serve chilled. (Setting them out for a few hours at room temperature for serving is OK.) Bars can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

For more step-by-step instructions, visit: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/07/02/no-bake-reeses-peanut-butter-bars/#jumptorecipe

Popular Right Now

To The Girl Who Doesn't Party In College

They are rare, I know.

I know what you all are thinking, she is just writing the article to brag on herself or to show the world the kind of person she is. No, I am writing this article to the girl out there who feels as if she is alone.

Not being a part of the party season is not the most popular thing to do on a college campus.

Most people spend their days thinking about what they will do at night. Life pretty much revolves around the next party. But for people like me, it isn't spent thinking about alcohol or the next party I'm going to attend. And that can get pretty lonely.

It is not like I sit and wallow in my sadness or ever feel like my friends leave me out because I don't drink. I have great friends that support every decision I make.

But, some are not that lucky.

Some girls don't have the support system like me and I am here to tell you to never compromise the person you want to be just because you don't fit in. If you don't want to party, don't give in just because your friends are pressuring you into. Not to sound cliche, but find new friends because they are not your real ones.

Choosing to stay true to you will pay off in the end, and you won't regret it. I promise.

I don't know why you choose to not attend the party scene, but I would be hindering my calling if I didn't tell you why I don't. I know this guy, and his name is Jesus. He is my best friend and the person I talk to about everything. It is because of Him that I decided to not party, to set an example for the people around me.

But, I am also not 21. So I don't think, by any means, that me having a margarita when I turn 21 is hurting my reputation or my testimony.

I firmly believe that alcohol isn't a sin when consumed in the right ways. I also don't ever see myself as a partier, 21 or not. Partying is a way of conforming and a way of becoming what this fallen world deems acceptable.

So to the girl who fails to be the typical college partier, I commend you. I look up to you. I respect you. I want you to know how rare you are. You choosing to not party and rise above the college standard is something you will never regret. I don't believe that my college years are boring because of the way I decide to live my life. I wish that I could befriend each and every girl relating to this article.

So, when those Friday nights get boring, remember that you are not alone. You are rising above the standard.


The girl who doesn't party in college

Cover Image Credit: Krisztian Hadi / Flickr

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More Burgers, More Food to Talk About

February of last year I wrote my very first post about Little Bad Wolf's highly underrated burger in Chicago. Give that one a read, my detail is comical – no joke.


Since that tasty treat at Little Bad Wolf, there are others to share the spotlight and applaud! Here are my recent and ever-growing list of burgers to try when you are in the Chicago city limits.

Easter came early last year, April 1, and you bet I took full advantage to get a burger right after that day. I set my sights on Southport Corridor Brewery's burger. Listed at a reasonable $14, your plate presents itself with a double-steak patty, mustard herb mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, Detroit pickles, and a sesame bun! Pair that sandwich with a tasty beer on their rotating menu, and its lights out. Beer, burgers, and oh, did I mention their vinyl selection? Make it a top stop the next time you are in the area.

A few months later, enjoying a week away with the boys, we stopped at a local establishment in Richmond, IL called the Richmond Brathaus. They have a Hawaiian-take on what they title, the Maui Wowee, and boy was I floored from that creation. Swiss cheese, sautéed onions, cherry wood smoked bacon, grilled pineapple and cherry chipotle BBQ combine for what is an excellent sandwich – but to top it off, I got the "Haus fries," which contain chili and cheese – savory heaven. If you are just over the border in Wisconsin, map search "Richmond BratHaus," I guarantee you are going to like what you eat.

My last burger of 2018 was at a newer establishment in the West Loop from the West Coast (California), known as Ballast Point Brewery. The Ballast Point beers speak for themselves, from their "sculpin" line to specialty barrel aged, and rose-influenced beers. They are always top quality. On a cold winter night, there was nothing I wanted more than a delicious burger from this establishment. After a thorough look at the menu, my eyes kept wandering back to the West Coast Griddle Burger, which had American cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and "wonder" sauce on a brioche bun. They also offer you the option of three in-house sauces as dipping options for your fries. Do it. Even if it is not for the burger, go to the place, especially in the summer for their rooftop!

After four months, my journey for the best burgers in Chicago continues. I continually check Google for listings and names, making sure I am still on the best path. If you have any suggestions, feel free to shoot me a comment or message – recommendations are always welcomed by this guy. Until next time, keep eating, good eats!

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