There’s gotta be more to life than budgeting for Christmas… right? Well, of course— there’s budgeting for post-Christmas (when all your money has been spent but you’ve still gotta eat).
Fear not - Crafting the College Life is here to help you out with a few delicious and cost-conscious meals to cook that don’t involve a package of ramen (or a box of Mac and Cheese). You can even serve these to your friends, or your parents *gasp* without fear of judgement.
Stir Fry: This is probably the most basic suggestion in the book, but it’s one that gets overlooked far too often. Stir Fry is a great option when you’re staring at the fridge feeling like you’ve got a whole lot of not much that goes together— call it a stash buster for your pantry. The real beauty is that it can be done on just about any type of cooktop you’ve got at your disposal (res-life hot plate, anybody?). If you can get your hands on a Wok we definitely recommend taking advantage, but in a pinch, any pan that can be brought up to high heat will do.
Don’t forget to try out different flavour profiles:
- peanut butter with a splash of soy sauce and some Sriracha make for a great pseudo-peanut-schezuan offering.
- if you’re into sweet-and-spicy glaze the meat in a mix of honey and Sriracha before adding veggies.
DIY Hack: Rice is the classic option to pair with Stir Fry, and it’s dirt cheap, but just in case you’re committed to the broke-student-lifestyle this would be one case where ramen noodles would be a legitimate option as well.
Chili: Can feed an army. Make it in a pot (stovetop) or in a slow cooker (while you’re trudging through classes). Always forgetting to soak the beans overnight? That’s what the canned food aisle is for!
This recipe is especially delicious and includes a can of beer. One for the pot, one for the chef, right? ;): <https://www.freshoffthegrid.com/5-can-chili/>
Curry Carrot Soup: Full disclosure this recipe will require you to have access to either a food processor or submersion blender (FYI, a submersion blender can be purchased for around $50 and is well worth the investment if you’re able to swing it). There are a lot of recipes for this type of soup around online, but I’ve toyed around and ended up with a combination/variation of a few that I’ve pretty happy with:
-1 medium size onion; diced.
-1 medium size potato; peeled and diced.
-1.5 pounds carrots (I use baby carrots for the sake of convenience, but full-size work just fine once they’re peeled and chopped up).
-5-6 cups of broth (either chicken or veggie. I use water and bullion cubes)
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
-Salt and pepper to taste
1. In your soup pot, over medium heat, sauté the onion in a couple tablespoons of oil (I always recommend using Olive Oil in cooking, if only for the flavour, but any kind will do the trick) until softened.
2. Add spices, salt, and pepper in with onion and oil and mix.
3. Add potato and carrots and mix so spices coat everyone evenly.
4. Pour in four cups of broth and simmer everything for 30-40 minutes (or until soft).
5. Remove from heat and use either submersion blender or food processor to puree.
DIYOS Hack: you can also use a regular blender for this, but you’ll have to let it cool completely before doing so (hot stuff in a blender leads to explosions and having to clean the ceiling).
*6. If soup is too thick, add remaining broth.
**7. And if you're feelin' fancy, it's especially delicious served with a dollop of sour cream.
Don't let your palate suffer because Christmas has drained your bank account.
Discover your inner Masterchef instead.
Growing up, Lynette told everybody who would ask that one day she was going to be either a Rock Star or a Writer. She writes a little bit of everything from song lyrics to creative nonfiction, and can usually be found with a guitar or pen in her hand. She’s still working on the Rock Star thing, but at least becoming a writer has actual job postings.