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College food

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
As I begin freaking out about culinary school in three semesters along with running a household (EEK! :eek:) I have started thinking about food prices. I go to the grocery store (It's like my toy store) and I have seen *and paid for* how fast everything adds up.

I really don't want to be the college kid to live off of pizza and ramen so I turn to my chefs and brilliant thinkers and hope to learn from your experiences.

What food got you through college? And please... no Spam, really, I can't eat it.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #2 of 23
PB&J sandwiches... okay, seeing as how that's probably not something you want to live on, I'll offer other suggestions:

Eggs, so versatile, perhaps the most magical of ingredients. Not only are they nutritious and delicious, but you can practice so many of your culinary skills using eggs.

Try out cheaper cuts of meat. Braising steaks, pork shoulder, chicken legs, even offal.

Diversify on some good Vegetable and vegetarian dishes. Indian dishes such as Aloo Gobi or a nice Chinese watercress and chive dumpling are cheap to make and tasty.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #3 of 23

College Food

Mmmmmm, yummy college food (wait, is that a cliche?)....

I lived off of tuna sandwiches, which are great because you can always change the recipe. Ingredients are fairly inexpensive and it can be prepared in a matter of minutes.

Another good one is soup. You can throw everything into a crockpot and it is ready when you get home. Also can be prepared fairly cheap in a short period of time.

Have fun at school!
post #4 of 23
beans....there are so many varieties of beans out there....either canned or dried.
I've been cooking dried beans with herbs/spices (rosemary, thyme,garlic, orange zest, chili flakes) then when they are tender I drain them, pop them in the fridge....some get mashed and used as sandwich or dip goo with olive oil and an emersion blender.
We've got a produce market that has great bargains....3 grapefruits for $1, bunches of beets for $1.5, snow peas $1 #....for $25 or less your fridge is stocked enough for 2 weeks. Finding stores that have scratch and dent, there's an overage store that has an ever changing stock of various foods....many premium.

growing herbs is easy....Penzeys is a great source for inexpensive flavor boosters.

Many students take turns cooking, it's cheaper and more interesting if you share a meal with 3 others.

I worked at a restaurant through the last year of college, there was always a good meal there, then many times there were things that were sent back to the dorm with me because there wasn't enough for service.

Gleenning, either on a farm, garden or fruit trees.....amazingly many don't want all the produce generated on their trees or gardens.

bluecius has it right, off cuts......28 years ago it was flank steak....knowing how to cook and more important slice it makes all the difference. But back then it was one of the cheapest cuts of beef....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 23
G-B
A little more info would help...

What cooking equipment do you have - hot plate, microwave, crockpot, refrigerator, freezer, Altosham (just kidding) what else?

This would have a lot to do with your options and our suggestions.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #6 of 23
Spam...fried crispy till it's almost burnt, on a good sandwich...Breakfast of Champions, although it's not particularly cheap anymore. A can is opened in this country every 4 seconds, and nobody will admit they like it. Go figure.

With a busy schedule your crock pot is your friend. Root vegetables, cheap meat cuts, decent seasonings, add a salad and you're good to go. The processed crap most students live on is false economy, much more costly in the long run on your pocketbook as well as your soul. I lived on cabbage in college. It can be done up with any kind of meat either as a full accompaniment or a seasoning, like bacon...also great in hot weather as a grated salad with some chopped up cold cuts, nuts, tomatoes and whatever dressing you want. Cabbage is cheap year round. Think outside the box, and please, give SPAM a chance. :)
post #7 of 23
If you are in Culinary School you wont be eating much outside of school. When I was in school I ate breakfast and lunch in school and dinner at work. I dont think there was much more than some condiments and beer in my fridge.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #8 of 23
If you have your own place to store some food and at least a hot plate to cook on, you should have several cans of chicken stock, beans, chick peas, black beans, rice, noodles and pasta and canned tomatoes, peanuts, a few favorite spices and an oil. Onions and garlic and potatoes last a while if stored in a cool dry place. Buy daily meat and produce, but ONLY enough for one meal and make sure you use it that day.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Mike, you are so right, my apologies. I'm taking over a house, my house currently I just get it to myself when I start school, the mom is leaving on a travelling therapy job. I'll have a full residential kitchen: toaster oven, microwave, oven, 4 burner stove, a household size fridge/freezer combo, probably a large freezer in the shed by the time I take over, a few crock pots, a coffee maker (most important thing in my life), a pantry, and other random items. Plenty of counter space.

The cut of meat is something I had never really considered. Neither is the crock pot since that usually goes with soups and I'm not a huge soup fan.

Shroomgirl: I had been thinking of growing my own herbs but I have no space (or weather or soil) outside. Would you be able to give me some pointers for growing them indoors?

Blueicus: PB&J is great, especially with Frito corn chips in with a strawberry jam. I'm a normal kid, really. ;)

Chefhow: I had talked with some culinary students at an open house and that's kind of what they told me. But I will also have to cook for a room mate and the boyfriend, whom I don't trust in MY kitchen. He'll have a microwave, a mini fridge, and a phonebook of delivery food somewhere outside of my precious sanctuary.


Thank yo uso much guys, everything is helpful with good ideas.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #10 of 23
You're going to have a lot better cooking equipment than I did in college. But I do have a suggestion anyway.

I didn't have a kitchen of any sort. My rice cooker was my best (cooking) friend. Not only is rice economical, but there's a lot more you can make in a rice cooker than just plain rice. Depending on cooking times and end effect wanted, you can add ingredients at different times. For example, if you want to cook greens with it, you can add the greens at the start of cooking or soon after, which makes the 2 ingredients a blend. Or you can wait until the water goes below the level of the rice and have the greens as a separate layer on top, adding a bit of flavor to the rice.

Seasonings and condiments can be added while cooking or added after cooking, of course.

Processed meats work great with this method, whether added early on or later. Raw eggs dropped on the rice for the last few minutes of cooking come out great. Fish fillets come out great when added as soon as the water level goes below the rice. Canned beans, rinsed and drained, are another thing that fits in nicely. I had a lot of fun and a lot of good food, for a low price, not much dishwashing, and didn't have to deal with a shared kitchen. A shared kitchen can turn out to be a lot worse than you might imagine, as I found out later on when I rented a "quad" apartment.

I'm sure my basic ideas here are as new as 10,000 years of Chinese and other cooking, but I had a lot of fun with that rice cooker.
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you Oregon, I had no idea about the rice cooker stuff. That is certainly something to look into. It really works? Does it work like steaming?
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #12 of 23
Usually the rice cooker comes with a rack of sorts on which you can place a dish of whatever you wish to steam, if it doesn't you can usually jury rig something that'll let you place the dish on top of the rice without them touching... the steam created by the boiling rice water will cook whatever you put in there.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you Blueicus, the rice steamer we have was a cheap little 15 dollar one that did not come with a rack so it may be a good investment to go get a larger one with a rack. I need a larger one anyways, I like rice a lot. :lips:
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #14 of 23
I was talking about just the simplest rice cooker. Just a base heater, a cooking container that fits into it, and a lid. There's a lot you can do with just that. And yes those are all things I have cooked with just that. It really works nicely.
post #15 of 23
I read all this with a growing sense of disbelief. What about chili? Basic chili can get you through college and 7 years of grad school if need be, and it's dirt cheap -- worked for me, anyway. You also need a rice cooker, which will cost you very little at your local Chinatown or whatever.

Canned beans are fine, and require no planning, though dried beans are really cheap. Add any meat that is inexpensive: you will cook it so long that it will fall to bits anyway. For flavoring, you need onions, a can of ground or chopped tomatoes, some inexpensive dried herbs, and hot sauce. Make a huge batch of this. Now here's how it goes.

Sunday, pour it over rice and get the pot off the heat -- uncovered. Before you go to bed, cover and refrigerate.

Monday, bring it back up to heat slowly, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, and add something that's cheap and looks good. Chicken cut in chunks, let's say. If it's getting thick, add some water or canned chicken stock (ooh, Mr. Fancy!). Repeat cool-down process.

Tuesday, do it again, only now you've used up the rice batch you made, so this time boil spaghetti, add another can of tomatoes to the glop, and pour it on. Mushrooms are good in this.

Wednesday, you don't want to fool around, so just reheat it and pour it on buns for sloppy joes.

Thursday, you're sick of it, so cook it on high heat with one diced hot chile until almost scorching, add a cup of water and scrape the bottom, cook until sticking again, add 3 Tb butter, remove from heat, and stir-scrape until the butter is totally dissolved. Pour that in a deep bowl, eat it with a spoon and maybe some cheese, and drink a beer.

Friday and Saturday, go out with your friends to eat bad fried stuff or pizza or whatever. Sunday, start over.

You'll be amazed: the longer you keep it up, the better it tastes, which is good because you do get sick of it despite all the variations. If you're one of these namby-pamby people who thinks you should get vitamins and stuff, be sure to add chopped greens (spinach, mustard greens, etc.) as you go, here and there. The great thing is that if you focus on cheap, and cook it this way, you can save lots of money for your weekend blowouts.

'Course, your first live-in girlfriend will be the end of this plan. It's not the flavor, it's the aftereffects on the uninitiated: half a can of beans a night, well, it takes a while before you can handle that and be presentable in public. :lol:
post #16 of 23
you can cook simple stews , soups etc for less than 15 bucks each(pm me if you want my recipes), with enough quantity to last a 3 ppl household for 2 or more days. If you eat a lot of bread, I can tell you a very simple recipe that will give you great bread that will last you ~ a week or more depending how much you eat.
post #17 of 23
oooo Chris, that's just baddddddd........

my eldest son's roommates used to share with me that he ate ramen noodles with BBQ sauce. sigh.

Making a core batch of something and altering it makes sense. Cooking for the week all at once is actually really time saving. Within a few hours you've got a stocked fridge that all you have to do is scoop (heat or not) and eat.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #18 of 23
Gummy, This post should be "What do I do when Mommy leaves me with a full kitchen"....GGEEEZZZZZZ you made it sound like you had to cook your meals over a sterno. Food isn't expensive, its just most people don't know how to cook. Everything thats expensive are the pre-fab tems. Ready to eat kind of meals. If your going to Culinary school this is the time to learn cost management and food costing. No better palce to learn than at home. I see Chicken tenders that could be made into 100"s of menu items. Tenders are about $1.50lb on sale. Ground beef is $1.89 and can be made into,Tacos, Salisburry steaks, meatloafs, stuffed cabbage rolls, 100's of recipes. This is a great time to learn scratch cooking, this is the real cooking anyway. Learning about taking something with not much taste, seasoning and making it your own. You could make your own pizza dough for pennies. All pizza isn't junk food, you could make your own pesto, grown your own basil, make your own pizza sauce. I have never seen anyone starve to death in Culinary school, so I think you will servive.
For a fast meal stop at Burger King get a few $1 salads and make your entree at home. Roast a whole Chicken with roasted potatoes and carrots for a meal for 3 for under a $1.50 per person. Take the leftover chicken and make Chicken enchiladas, or Chicken pot pie.
The people in this Forum that are in their 50's and born from Depression parents will tell you how to servive on very little. We had to hear about these things at ever meal. My Mom used to boil a chicken half way and use that for chicken broth served very hot with a bowl of cold egg noodles to cool it down. After eating this you were half full and then the baked chicken came to the table with potatoes and vegetables. She knew how to Streach the buck, but we always ate well................Good luck in School .....Bill
post #19 of 23
Buy meat on sale... freeze meat.
Buy bread on sale... freeze bread.
Buy shrimp on sale... freeze shrimp.

Other than that, remember: mussels are only 2$/lbs. Do not freeze these.
post #20 of 23

I went to college in the Pocono Mountains of PA back in... 1492!?!  WAY before microwave or mini-fridge became the norm in a dorm room.  Had a "kitchen" in basement with stove, fridge, sink and a few very basic utensils and pots/pans.  It was always GROSS!!  If we didn't eat in dining hall, we'd use a hot pot to heat canned stuff up.  OR we'd use a HIGHLY taboo thing called a "stinger"... metal coil to submerge in liquid... got screaming hot in seconds.

post #21 of 23

I'm currently in college myself, so I can relate If you're cooking for roommates see if they will split grocery costs with you. My roommate and I set aside a day once every week or two and go grocery shopping together and just ask that they split the cost in half (and then me being the math major tells them what that is). Try to find ads for your local grocery stores they usually have great deals, our grocery store (HEB) has whats called weekly meal deals, where you buy one or two things at a reasonable price you get a ton of other stuff that goes great with it free. We usually buy whatever those are, and then scan to see what meat is on sale. We found T-Bones for 2 bucks a pound once! they are currently in our freezer. Which brings me to the next part, if you find things on sale stock up! soup was on sale the other day... I bought 10 cans. Why? because next time I go it will be double the cost. Like someone said above buy meats on sale. freeze them. 

 

The major thing that kills college students is don't be afraid of off brands. They are usually just as good as the big name brand foods but usually a lot cheaper, that really adds up. 

 

Also if no meat is on sale, chicken, always go with chicken and pasta, it's cheap and versatile.

 

And don't knock spam til you slice it up cook in on a skillet and put it on some bread with mayo or bbq sauce.

 

Good luck and good eatings! 

post #22 of 23

You can eat well if you sit down and plan a meny based on whats on sale. BUT you can't be lazy

CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #23 of 23

If you have a Costco or Sam's nearby, they can be a lifesaver! I had some friends in college who split the membership cost between the 4 of them, and stocked up on basics there - meat, bread, rice, flour, milk, etc. With two parents with crazy commutes as a kid, I grew up with a deep appreciation of the big deep freezer. Whenever you cook anything that you can freeze, make WAY more than you could possibly eat, get a bunch of freezer/microwave/dishwasher-safe plastic containers, and freeze meal sized portions. (how many people you have to serve at a meal determines what size you should use) Even if you do this just once a week, or as your budget permits, you can quickly build up a wide variety of thaw-and-serve meals that are tasty, nutritious, and fast. Buying that kind of high quantity, especially in meat, can feel expensive at first, but in the long run it will save you money - and sanity! Once you're not having to buy everything to cook fresh every day, your shopping costs come down. We usually have a few containers of nearly a dozen dishes down there to choose from at any one time. When hurricane Sandy came through, we lost everything in our freezer and had to start over, and it took us about a month and a half of one or two jumbo batches a week to restock.

 

Now, as to what to make to fill that freezer? Soups work well, but you said you weren't a fan. If you can stand stews, they work well. Many casseroles freeze well, as long as they aren't too heavy on cheese. Stroganoff was a PA Dutch recipe I grew up with, and dishes like that freeze well. Taco or fajita fillings will often be ok, though you might want to toss them on the stove to reheat instead of using a microwave. Surprisingly, lasagna freezes and reheats VERY well. Good ol' southern pulled pork is a great one: make it overnight in a slowcooker, shred, add sauce, toss back in the slowcooker, feast, then freeze the leftovers; add a bit more sauce when reheating to keep it moist. If you don't mind the texture change, you can even make and freeze batches of rice to save more time - if you're pouring something saucy over it, the kids usually won't notice. If you've got a pasta sauce recipe you like, especially one with a protein cooked in, that freezes well, just be careful with reheating, as the tomatoes can destroy the plastic they're stored in.

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