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Sep 7, 2007 12:16 PM

Ultra cheap meal ideas? [moved from Home Cooking board]

Seeing as how a lot of young people are off to college right now, I'm looking for ultra cheap recipes to help them survive and eat somewhat healthy but cheap meals. Sure there's ramen noodles, but I don't think there's much nutrition to be had from those. Same for things like hot dogs and the like.

Any ideas?

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  1. I am eating a tortilla espanola I made last night for lunch on a crisp sourdough roll I toasted with some greens, sliced cuke. And I am in heaven!

    Kind of like a take on a bocadillo (spanish sandwich)

    All you need is potatoes, onions and eggs.

    You fry thin sliced rounds of potato (I like the white potato) with some onion in a mess of (I also add a roasted red pepper chopped up - could use pimento rinsed too) olive oil over medium - turning occasionally. Season. Cook till just tender. remove and reserve in bowl.

    Beat some eggs - pour over potato mixture - only enough to cover. Let sit 15 minutes.

    Get a small saute pan hot with some oo. Add mixture - flatten out quickly - cook over med till light brown - invert flip and cook.

    Refrigerate - tastes best at room temp.

    Best lunch I have made for myself in long time - and I am college student as well

    2 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      How much would you say your meal costs per serving? Ideally I'd like to try and keep it under $3. At $1.50 it would be perfect.

      Kind of reminds me of the what Tyler Florence faced on Shaq's Big Challenge when he was trying to get the schools to move away from things like pizza and chicken nuggets to something healthy and nutritious. Have to say that I really enjoyed this show, but that's getting off topic.

      1. re: bigsuff

        well, how much do you eat? eggs cost less than 50 cents a pop. Potatoes....what 79 cents a pound. onions about the same. Olive oil isnt that cheap but goes far.

        Your guess is good as mine. I take that you wont be eating these meals personally..."Help them survive." No?

    2. Tuna salad (cans are cheap, and healthy w.fat free mayo or mustard or sriracha, have college kids raid the cafe for free condiement packs) or cole slaw (bags are like a dollar and will make at least a weeks worth of servings w.vinegar+sugar and maybe raisins).

      Corn tortillas (pack of a billion for like a dollar) & cheese make good quesadillas. Add whatever meat or veggies are on sale.

      Grocery store fridge or bakery day old bagels in the oven make good pizzas.

      1. I'm sure a lot depends on the kitchen tools and cooking/food storage facilities available to the varying college crowds....I would say that those resources + TIME are limiting factors. I starting cooking for myself during sophmore year of college (without a lot of cooking, planning or budgeting skills) to save money, so I guess I'm curious if there's more specific limitations than simply "college".

        Assuming that there's access to a full kitchen, a search for "inexpensive meals" on the Home Cooking board yielded over 100 results filled with great suggestions (though there are probably plenty more!) Notably, rworange did great in-depth reports about how to eat well on $3 or less/day.

        Something that's totally microwave friendly and cheap- rice noodles with peanut sauce. (Unless the rice noodles are ridiculously overpriced in a mainstream market).

        Rice noodles just need a soak in boiling water. Peanut butter + soy sauce + finely-grated ginger root (which lasts a long time) are the basics for a peanut sauce, and soy sauce and peanut butter are often college staples (though the soy sauce has to be halfway decent- something like LaChoy ain't gonna cut it. Trust me, I tried it ;)

        .The "nice" additions (fish sauce, scallions, cilantro, vegetables, meat, etc.) can be quite diverse, and I found peanut noodles a nice way to make a lot out of a little (e.g. stretch a few chicken breast slices or random cooked vegetables into a meal).

        1. I've posted this before but it's cheap and good:

          Boil water to make spaghetti. Put the pasta in for 7 minutes. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat some good olive oil in a frying pan on med high. 2-3 Tblespoons ( I use more). When the oil is very hot, fry two eggs in the oil, taking care not to break the yolks. I like the whites to set completely and the Yolks to stay runny, but fry them as you like. When the spaghetti is done, drain it .Put a serving of the pasta in a bowl and when the eggs are done to your liking, slide them and the oil onto the pasta in your bowl. Add parm (even shaker-bottle parm) and salt and pepper. If you have good eggs, this is a wonderful meal you will have often.

          1. this thread might help...

            I'm a big fan of using a rotisserie chicken for meals. Eat some chicken- then cut up the leftovers for other meals (quesadillas, chicken salads, pizzas..)