Eating Good In College On a Budget
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Health and Wellness

Eating Good In College On a Budget

Staying On Budget But Still Having Yummy Choices

Eating Good In College On a Budget

University of Alabama student, Mackenzie Robinson, writes an interesting article addressing "college students' most popular Google searches." The two topping the list:

"Can I eat" and 'How can I make my cheap food better?"

I took these two questions and address them below. I hope you enjoy cooking and making your palate excited about what awaits it at the end of the day until those much-anticipated breaks to go home and eat mom's cooking arrive. You may just decide to show off your newfound mac-n-cheese recipe as a fab side dish for the family for the Thanksgiving meal.

These are very real everyday concerns and ones I chose to address as you maneuver through these hurdles without either becoming sick of the same old foods or literally becoming sick by eating food that has been around too long.

Oleg Magni via

First of all, choose Walmart as often as you can, because being a huge entity, their prices are usually cheaper, so you'll automatically get more food for your buck. I always save money when I buy groceries from them. Their canned foods, especially, are way cheaper than most of the other food markets. (I know, I can buy "green" when you're done with college and making a good salary, okay....).

Purchase freezer bags (store brand) and stretch your fresh foods, like hamburger, fresh vegetables onions and peppers, further by storing them in the freezer and taking out just what you need for your meal. Dicing onions and peppers ahead of time, and placing them in the freezer for easy use when you want to add them to an omelet or stir fry saves time and money (they cost twice as much if they have been pre-chopped for you). Try picking up something like olive oil (a healthier choice for stir fry than polyunsaturated oils) at TJ Maxx where you might be shopping for some clothes. They sometimes have great prices on items like these back in the kitchen sections at the back of the store. A grilled cheese (another cheap and nutritious meal, especially with tomato soup) has extra good taste if you cook it in olive oil in a pan on the stove. Also, when your local Walmart puts spices on sale, pick up some dried basil and parsley to add to a can of tomato soup. If you add a teaspoon of margarine and flour mixed with cold water to the soup, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper and ½ teaspoon of sugar as well, that tomato soup becomes a culinary delight!

Harris Teeter almost always has their shredded cheese buy two get three free, making homemade macaroni and cheese a cheap and awesome dinner choice. That boxed stuff may seem cheaper, but the taste does not compare - plus, if you make a large portion and freeze it, it is just as cost-saving since the store brand of macaroni is super cheap. If time is a factor, which it probably is, then make it on the weekend and freeze it in meal-sized portions you can grab and heat in the microwave. To make awesome mac and cheese, after you boil the macaroni, set it aside to drain and add 2 cups of milk, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of flour, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper and a dash of red pepper all together in a saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring often. Add a bag of cheddar cheese (sharp or mild - your preference), pour over the macaroni and either place into containers for freezing once it is cool, or if you like the baked variety, place it into a baking dish, and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly (if you don't have a baking dish, you can purchase the throw-away aluminum pans at the store, or use a saucepan (and ask mom for one from her stash next time you're home). Take it out and enjoy some with maybe a piece of fish you placed in the oven to bake at the same time (frozen box of fish stick/portions) and place the rest in the freezer in containers. Then, during the week when you are worn to a frazzle from all the classes and lectures, you can be happy knowing you have something super yummy and healthy waiting on you in the freezer you can just pull out and microwave, and add to the piece of fish, hamburger patty (from what you already patted out and placed in the freezer for quick frying, to go with your side dish of mac-n-cheese. Another great side dish for your hamburger patty is a salad made with just a ¼ of a Romaine lettuce bunch with a slice of tomato and onion or whatever else you like. You do not have to spend money on dressing. Remember that olive oil you purchased – it makes a terrific dressing by pouring a tablespoon into a mixing bowl and adding ¼ tsp of red wine vinegar (buy the store brand at Walmart or Food Lion, Harris Teeter, etc.,), a sprinkle of the basil you bought on sale, a dash of garlic powder and a pinch of sugar and mixing together for a fabulous vinaigrette (add a dash of orange juice - wow, that's good). You can even add a bit of parmesan cheese for an extra splash of flavor.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with some of these ideas. Mac-n-cheese is a favorite of almost everyone. If you want an extra special meal on the weekend, you can even add some bread crumbs or stuffing to the top if you like it baked, for an extra yummy dish.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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