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Topic: Cheap meals for students...that don't involve ramen?  (Read 11706 times)
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« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2010 02:23:09 PM »

Yay Cheap Eats! I'm also a student and though I've recently managed to claw my way out of the "rice and beans every single day" phase - I still feel better paying as little as possible for food.

My favorites are:

Ghetto Stroganoff - Make a big pot of mashed potatoes. Then fry up 1lb of ground beef or turkey (whatever is on sale) and add two cans of cream of mushroom soup. This will least at least three dinners.

Fried Roots - Chop and boil your favorite roots (carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc) for about ten minutes. Heat some butter or oil in a pan and toss in your drained roots. Fry until crispy and delicious and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sooo tasty.

Faux Eggplant Parm - Take one eggplant, hollow out and chop the middle. In a bowl mix your chopped eggplant innards with diced tomatoes, diced onions and carrots and a bunch of breadcrumbs with your favorite Italian spices. Re-fill the eggplant halves with your mixture and sprinkle with grated cheese. Pop the halves on a baking sheet and bake for 30 min. Yummy and impressive if you have guests over...

Enjoy! Cooking on a micro-budget is so challenging - but it can be tasty too!


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« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2010 12:25:10 AM »

I'm Uber lucky - I live at a juncture of a discount grocery store and a dollar tree. If you can swing it, beg/bargain/cajole your way into cheap fresh produce! Slices of red bell pepper (2/$1 at Grocery Outlet) roasted at 350 for thirty five minutes is better than veggie candy over rice - it sates my unfeedable boyfriend AND my insatiable female appetite, at least. Actually, ANY veggie, fresh or frozen, is unbearable great roasted. It takes time, but it's worth it.

Frozen peas, peanut butter, and chopped garlic - calories, fiber, veggies, protein, YES. It tastes like cheap thai food. The highest complement I can give frozen peas? I think so!

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« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2010 06:09:41 PM »

I'm Uber lucky - I live at a juncture of a discount grocery store and a dollar tree. If you can swing it, beg/bargain/cajole your way into cheap fresh produce! Slices of red bell pepper (2/$1 at Grocery Outlet) roasted at 350 for thirty five minutes is better than veggie candy over rice - it sates my unfeedable boyfriend AND my insatiable female appetite, at least. Actually, ANY veggie, fresh or frozen, is unbearable great roasted. It takes time, but it's worth it.

Frozen peas, peanut butter, and chopped garlic - calories, fiber, veggies, protein, YES. It tastes like cheap thai food. The highest complement I can give frozen peas? I think so!


You have a store that sells 2 red bell peppers for a DOLLAR?

JEALOUS!!!!! Angry

Lucky for you though, because they are delicious and very healthy. And they kick up the flavor and crunchiness to just about everything.
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2010 06:31:09 PM »

I feel your pain. I was a super poor student barely getting by. Check out your local grocery stores for GOOD sales. Buying in bulk can be your friend.
Cheap Meals
- PP&J
- Omlettes
- Rice and beans
- Spaghetti & jarred sauce w/ toast
- Baked ziti (make a large casserole dish of it...great for leftovers for the nights you have to study!!)
- Breakfast for dinner! (eggs, french toast, cereal w/ berries, etc.)
- Salads
- Stir-fry (left over rice, any veggies, 1 egg & a bit of soy sauce)

If you have access to Costco you can get a 3lb. bag of a salad mixture for $2.79. Get a bottle of your favorite dressing and that'll last you for days!!

These are GOOD recipes that only require a few ingredients. I lived off this stuff when I was in school.  Wink

Homemade Mac & Cheese
1 Onion, chopped
1 bag shredded cheese of your choice (I like cheddar)
Chopped ham or spam (optional)
1/2c Milk
S&P to taste

Boil macaroni until al dente and drain. Layer macaroni, chopped onion, ham or spam, shredded cheese of your choice and S&P to taste in a casserole dish. Repeat to make 2 more layers. Drizzle milk on top. Bake at 375 for 30 mins covered. Remove cover and bake for additional 10 mins. until brown.

For my rediculios sweet tooth...
Dump Cake
21 oz can pie filling (I like cherry)
15 oz can of pineapple, crushed
18.25 oz package yellow cake mix
1c butter

Lightly grease a Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 325. Pour pie filling into bottom of cake pan, and on top of that pour the pineapple. Pour dry cake mix on top of pineapple. Slice butter or margarine over cake mix. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.

Baked Taco Chicken
1c all-purpose flour
2 - 1.25oz packages taco seasoning
1/2t salt
2 eggs
2T milk
Chicken breasts

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, taco seasoning and salt. In a shallow bowl, beat eggs and milk. Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture, then place in bag and shake to coat. Place bone side down in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until juices run clear. Serve with rice and salsa.

If you have a slow cooker...
BBQ Ribs
Rack of baby back ribs
BBQ sauce of your choice

Preheat oven to 400. Season ribs with salt and pepper. Place in a shallow baking pan. Brown in oven 15 minutes. Turn over, and brown another 15 minutes; drain fat. Place ribs in slow cooker. Pour BBQ sauce over ribs, and turn to coat. Cover, and cook on Low 6 to 8 hours, or until ribs are tender.

If you like butternut squash...
Butternut Squash Fries
Butternut Squash
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 425. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut away the peel from the squash. Cut the squash into sticks like French fries. Arrange squash pieces on a baking sheet and season with salt. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, turning the fries over halfway through baking. Fries are done when they are starting to brown on the edges and become crispy.

I'll come back and post more if I think of anymore I use to do.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010 06:36:46 PM by craft and bake » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2010 04:22:14 PM »

Craft and Bake, those recipes look amazing! I wish I had seen your post before I cooked the spaghetti squash last night. I'll have to remember it next time since squash is in season and cheap right now.

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« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2011 12:45:37 AM »

Baked potatoes.  They are awesome alone, with butter, sour cream, salt, pepper... I actually can't think of anything I don't like on baked potatoes.  And, it only takes a little bit of extra stuff to change it up.  And you can always twice-bake them to make things interesting (And if you use cheese). 

Fried rice.  An egg, old rice (Or make rice and freeze it for an hour) and oil.  You can also add veggies, meats, pretty much whatever.

Pot pies.  If you make it all from scratch, a pretty good pie can be pretty cheap.  This is one of those things that you buy things for other things, eventually look at what you've got left over and are like "Hey!"  I personally use http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chicken-Pot-Pie-VII/Detail.aspx and use freezer veggies to bulk it up and a can of chicken broth instead, then thicken it with milk and flour.  It makes a little more gravy, and I love saucy foods.  I make some in a bigger muffin pan for freezing (Only bake until they start to brown and can hold their own shape) and they make a good snack on their own or work well with a little salad or something for a lunch.  I also use the same recipe for chicken noodle soup.  You can make it cheaper by making your own broth.  You can also lose the meat and use veggie broth instead to change things up.

Rice balls.  Super easy to make.  Super portable.  Super yummy.  Add seasonings while you're cooking the rice.  Add veggies while you cook the rice.  Play with fillings.  It's all very fun and easy to change up.

Bean soup.  I like ham better than turkey so I tend to have ham on all of the holidays.  Keep the bone, boil it for ages and you'll have your soup base.  Add beans (If you buy them in the bags and soak them over night it's cheaper than canned) and let it cook for all of forever.  This will usually make a -lot- so don't be afraid to freeze it.  Only thing is, if you intend to freeze it, don't let the beans cook all the way.  You'll want to take out all but what you want to eat for the next few days before the beans are good to eat otherwise they get mushy.  You can also add things to this, I like to eat it with lots of yellow mustard.

I haven't tried it yet, but there was a recipe for egg drop soup posted, and that sounded pretty easy/cheap.  Another of those things that you seem to slowly accumulate the ingredients for.  It was corn starch, chicken broth, a beat egg, soy sauce and sliced green onion if you want.  Sounds yummy, decently cheap and freezable to me.

Any gravy on rice or mashed potatoes.

And, a spoonful of peanut butter is great to give you an energy boost and put something in your tummy if you're pressed for time.  Also nice if you can't eat a lot in the mornings or just don't feel like making anything.  (Yes, I am so lazy at times that even spreading that peanut butter on bread is a daunting task.)

I live in a tiny town and our grocery stores are Fred Meyer and Safeway.  In this situation, I like to go to the Safeway site and add their coupons to my Safeway card (Fred Meyer is crazy-expensive, even with coupons) and also check the ads out before I go shopping.  This way, it takes about 10 extra minutes to go shopping and I save a considerable amount for 10 extra minutes of work.  Plus, with all of the coupons on your card it doesn't take extra time to scan all of them.  It's nice when you're on an extreme budget.  Try to see if your store had a card system like that.  I've even managed to get the boyfriend to start shopping smarter (Even though that involves him randomly calling me to see whats on sale and what coupons are on the card) with the card.  It's really simple.

As for kitchen staples... For me, I guess that would be rice, chicken, chicken broth, frozen veggies, flour, Crisco, tomato sauce, cream of mushroom soup, eggs and assorted seasonings (Your favorites).  As long as I have those I can make plenty of things that I won't get bored for a decent time.  In any case, good luck and itadakimasu!

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« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2011 07:08:43 PM »

Picadillo, its real easy and cheap.

1 lb hamburger
1 can veggie mix
1 can chopped tomatoes

brown hamburger in skillet, when browned, add tomatoes, fry until most of liquid is absorbed, add salt and pepper and can of veggies. cook for six more minutes, serve with tortillas.

« Reply #27 on: September 01, 2011 07:14:17 AM »

If you can buy boxes or cans of stock or broth when on sale you can add anything to them to make soup.
1/2 box of stock simmer some frozen of fresh veggies. Thicken with a sprinkle of instant potato flakes. add what ever spices you like.  Or start with a can of diced tomatoes add more veggies & simmer a small amount of diced chiken till cooed through.
« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2011 04:18:37 PM »

I just graduated from college in May so holla for being in that boat! And waiting for my loan money to come in... NOT fun having 10 dollars in my bank account. (Now I'm in grad school and waiting for a paycheck... unexpectedly similar... le sigh.) ANYWAYS. The local supermarket in undergrad was right off campus. My boyfriend and I found that if we went grocery shopping at around 10 pm (the store closed at midnight), the meat section (PROTEIN!) was heavily HEAVILY discounted. I highly suggest shopping for meat after the meat counter closes for the night. (not the deli meat counter... the fresh meat counter). That way, my bf and I could stock up on meat for the week for really cheap. Then meals consisted of meat plus veggies (frozen are usually cheaper, and depending on the brand, you can get amazing deals!) plus tiny amt of oil plus salt n peppa. I know cooking in college kinda sucks sometimes because the most easily available food is campus food, but it is totally worth it! I lost weight once I started eating at home instead of on campus because campus food is pretty much always too greasy and fatty, and portion control is easier when you are cooking for yourself. May not be an issue for you but it's something that my bf and I consider all the time. NOT to mention campus food is ALWAYS overpriced (no matter where you are -- we are poor college kids! why do they overcharge us???).  Hope this helps and good luck with your classes :]

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« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2011 05:13:28 PM »

This was a family favorite.

Saute a pound of ground beef, turkey or chicken.
Add a can of Campbell's Alphabet Soup and a half cup of sour cream.
Serve over egg noodles. 

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