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Sep 18, 2006 06:43 PM

Eating on a Budget

Im a cosmetology student in Missouri and am getting pretty tired of spicy beef ramen noodles and $1 menu McDonald burgers (for real)....

1) what was your favorite thing to cook/eat during college?
2) what are some "eating on a budget" recipes you have?

Thanks for any feedback yall have... also, if your in the columbia, missouri area and need a haircut or color, look me up at The Strand... ^_^ (shameless self promotion, i know, im sorry, lol)


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  1. My grad school life consisted of:

    1. Seasonal veggies because they are cheapest in season. during the winter, frozen lima beans (I like them), peas and corn.
    2. All things mexican - beans, corn tortillas and a bit of cheese are cheap.
    3. whole grains like whole wheat couscous are really filling and cheap (also check out bulgar)
    4. I didn't eat much meat because it is expensive.
    5. pasta.

    There are several threads on budget eating, so check those out too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jsaimd

      Mexican food is agreat suggestion. Enchiladas are easy and cheap to make and freeze beautifully.

    2. My SO and I used to buy huge bags of onions and make French onion soup and eat it all week. It takes a while to carmelize the onions, but you can't beat the price. My SO still calls it poor food when I make it all these years later--thing is, it's actually really good. Or try making a big pot of chili or jambalaya. Staples like beans and rice and potatoes are inexpensive and healthier than packaged stuff.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Glencora

        Yep, caramelized onions are the poor gourmet's best friend. All you need to do is saute sliced or chopped onions in oil (olive oil if you can afford it, otherwise canola or whatever) and cook very, very, very slowly until they're rich brown and very reduced in volume. No need for sugar, vinegar, or other additions.

        You can caramelize one onion in 15-20 minutes, or you can prepare a ton of them when you have time and freeze in separate globs, so you can use them in soups (French Onion!), quiches, over toast (with a bit of pungent cheese, like blue cheese), on pizza, in omelets, and as an add-in to those inexpensive grains (caramelized onions and bulgur are great).

        Me, I ate bulk-bought bulgur all through college - steamed for tabbouli and Kisir (a Turkish salad with tomato paste & cumin), cooked like risotto, boiled with chicken broth, with syrup for breakfast, etc. That might explain why I'm not so wild about bulgur any more. But it kept me alive and healthy back then.

        EDIT/Afterthought: These threads have some good basic bulgur recipes, plus a red lentil & bulgur soup that sounds great:

        And do a search on Epicurious for "bulgur":


      2. I wish I had known about cooking then what I know now. A few tips:

        - Find a food co-op and buy bulk items like rice, pasta and beans. When in doubt, have that.

        - Buy store brands whenever possible. The quality difference is there, but not so much that a starving student would mind.

        - Make soup at the beginning of the week and freeze it. Generally soups are a lot cheaper, and go much further, than other foods. Same as Glencora said with jambalaya and chili.

        - When you have a few extra bucks, beef up your spice rack. If you have a good spice rack, it'll last a long time and you can make most anything edible.

        1. My college/grad school staple was soup and a baked potato.

          I also ate tons of pasta. I used the packets of dried pesto you can buy or a really easy tomato sauce (onion, canned diced tomato, dried basil and oregano and garlic) because I couldn't stand the cheap bottled tomato sauces. I would bring the leftover pasta to school for lunch topped with salad dressing (I was partial to fat free Catalina or Italian).

          I would also use a lot of frozen spinach - you get a lot for the money and it tastes as good cooked as fresh spinach - I would make a bastardized version of quesadillas with tortillas, spinach and cheese.

          1. potatoes. I used to get them 10 pounds for a dollar out west. So many good and interesting things you can do with just potatoes...

            gratin; baked with a host of cheap toppings; hash browns (think cubed and sauteed, rather than mcdonalds patty style); roasted; garlic and rosemary mashed; potato wedges; twice baked... so many options. all you usually need is a dollar or two of accompanying ingredients.

            most important for me at the time, of course, was that I could always fill myself up with potatoes. So I didn't feel as though I was starving.

            1 Reply
            1. re: adamclyde

              Potato pancakes are a real treat, topped with applesauce. The leftover applesauce will last quite a while in the fridge.