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General Advice For College Student Sick Of Ramen (Tomato Sauce)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

For advising me on tomato sauce please skip to the bar. For general advice, kindly read on.

Experience: 8 semesters in High School (every day for four years) of Culinary Arts. NOT Home Economics. We actually cooked food. And lots of it. From morning snacks, to pastries, to BBQ to literally a ton and a half of food (3000+ pounds of food) for a single charity event. So I am familiar with methods and standards. What I am not familiar with, is cooking for 1.

 

Recent Diet:
Ramen. Really, that was pretty much it. A little beef or chicken maybe twice a week, but about 3 packs of ramen a day.

Current Diet:

Spaghetti. Tomatoes and onions, with a few diced bell peppers for sauce. Throw in some ground beef for protein.

Salad. Romaine lettuce (rough chop) with a little diced onion, tomato wedges, carrot slices (however I feel like cutting them) and Italian dressing.

Lots and lots and lots and lots of tea. Green tea. Black tea. Herbal, Chinese Rose Bud, Aged Green Tea, etc...

 

Desired Diet: Mostly fruits and vegetables. Meat will be mainly used for Japanese dishes. Pasta made from scratch.

I am currently living on-campus as a university student. I much prefer eating healthier, tastier food I cook myself, than some buffet meal plan. I am trying to keep my food expenses low ($50 or so a week, or less. I typically go shopping only when I have no food left, which I expect to be about once a month, and I only buy what I know I will eat. Meaning, no chicken nuggets, TV dinners, brownie/cake mixes, etc...

I like tomatoes. A lot. So I am more than willing to eat tomatoes in one form or another each day (maybe it runs in the family...).

My main issue, is that I lack creativity.
I have dried garbanzo beans for hummus.
I have avocados for Guacamole.
I have lots of pecans and almonds. Some walnuts.
I would like to make a carrot cake with minced pecans. However, I have no cake-pan (on my list...). I am used to using false-bottom pans w/ aluminum foil and water bath. Could I get a recommendation for a good, sturdy (we used stainless steel back in class) pan, and a recipe that won't leave the surface of the cake rubbery?

General college-student budget-eating-yet-still-healthy-and-fresh tips?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So... I have a tomato sauce in the works. I tossed half a diced onion on an un-oiled saute pan, then added some tomato squares (freshly sliced) and let that heat up open-aired. After it cooked down a bit, I added some thyme, cayenne pepper and oregano and stirred it up with my wooden spoon. I then sliced up some more tomato and added that (total of 2 1/2 lg tomatoes). Replacing the lid, I diced up some coloured bell peppers (Approx 1 1/2, I used mini peppers), added those,and left to simmer.

Please do not jibe me for calling it a tomato sauce when it is not all that tomato-ish. I can't really make a stock pot full of the stuff at a time.

It was quite aeromatic a while ago. I lack a chinacap or other strainer. I also do not have a blender, so a coulis is out of the question.
How might I go about creating a better sauce, having minimal equipment and only what I can buy at my nearest Publix?

I apologize if I seem a little sprawled all over the place with my thoughts. I am quite tired.

EDIT~~~
Other than flash-boiling the tomatoes and removing the skin.

post #2 of 9

I get it.  That diet sounds VERY familiar.  Here are some suggestions:

 

In general, firstly,

1) With fruits, I would not buy a 'whole' bag of fruits but grab just a few, sometimes just 5 or 6 grapes or cherries to help 'round out' my diet. 

2) With budget saving dishes, I would include an amazing red bean and rice recipe (with a touch of cajun spice to it and I love bacon over fat back), if I have a access to a refrig or freezer for multiple meals (6-10).  I use a great one, which I will happily share if you wish.  It taste great, and has great 'sustaining' power through stressful exam time.  The great thing about rice is it's ability to 'stretch' meat.  I can't highly recommend this dish enough.

3) You already are using Roman noodles, so why not include eggs and fresh ginger?  Ginger is cheap, and can be used in many meals, and expand your 'asian' meals.  This will expand your use of vegitables, and keep your food costs down.  You can use fresh or frozen vegies in the pasta.  Just adding peas or broccoli to noodles makes a great taste impact. 

4)  If you have sugar, maybe you already use it for your tomato sauce, but if not, it's good to add.  Here something I've been experimenting with in tomato sauce:  lemon.  Weird huh?  In a small quantity it adds sweetness to the dish and cuts the acid.  Lemon is also great to have around, because you can make lemon water for a fresh and different way to make sure your drinking enough water.  Water is very important for keeping you mentally alert. 

5)  Another good starch source are potatoes.  With white potatoes you can add butter and pepper after microwaving it.  If you have sour cream and some vegies around, you can top it off, or any bacon left over, you can top it with that. 

Sweet potatoe's don't get enough press.  They are an awesome source of nutritian and a great replacement for a 'sugar boost'.  It has great natural sweetness, with just butter and cinnimon added, you have a great breakfast or late night snack!

post #3 of 9

Also, what about oatmeal?  I have to have brown sugar and butter though.  It 'sticks to the ribs', and with the brown sugar and butter, it taste good.

post #4 of 9

Cooking for one is not really that hard.

You can make one dish for the one day and turn the left overs into something else the next day, that is if you have time to cook every day.

I didn't, so I used to make 4 or 5 dishes in the weekend and freeze them and eat during the week (I eat mainly rice and pasta and sauces and stews/curries freeze well).

The main thing is: do you have a freezer?

I agree with developing taste, beans (and lentils) are a good call as well (and probably more versatile than you think)

Do you like Indian food?

And SE Asian and/or Chinese?

Just give us a bit more of an idea of the foods you like eating and I'm sure we can give you lots of ideas!

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

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Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

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post #5 of 9

Wow you have gotten great ideas so far.  I agree that keeping a few frozen veggies around can really perk up a lot of dishes.  I reach for frozen peas more often than I'd like to admit.  They're great for making soups, throwing into salads or pasta dishes, or just as a side dish tossed with some parmesan.

 

Some staples that keep well and are affordable are parmesan cheese, potatoes, eggs, rice/pasta, garlic, dried legumes and canned tomatoes.

 

Cooking for one is much easier than cooking for 10, however shopping for one person can be very difficult.  Items that are sold in bulk end up being less expensive than those specialty single serving portion sizes.  However, some things like sandwich bread, ginger, tomato sauce, soups etc can be kept in the freezer. 

 

Something that you can do if you have the room is to grow some basic herbs in your apartment.  Things like parsley, basil, rosemary, mint and chives all perk up the food and add considerable nutrition to any dish.

 

As for your sauce, I realize that you mean it to be healthy so why not add olive oil to the pan?  It will lend a lot of flavor to your sauce and it is a very healthy nutrient rich oil.  Without oil you're just boiling those tomatoes.  The bell pepper would lend its flavor better if it was added to the onions instead of at the end.  Why are you using fresh tomatoes for a sauce?  It's much more affordable to use canned tomatoes unless you are in a climate where tomatoes are in season right now.  Canned tomatoes taste much much better than tomatoes that have been shipped to you from another continent.  Also by using canned tomatoes you can choose how it is prepared, whether you want them diced or pureed or crushed, therefore eliminating your desire to use a sieve.

 

If you like heat in your food you may also want to invest in red pepper flakes, they're pretty cheap actually but I prefer to use cayenne pepper for other things, not italian sauce. 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #6 of 9

Koukou, your idea of growing herbs if great!

It's easy to do and makes a lot of difference to the dishes

 

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

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Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

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post #7 of 9

Braised meat is the way to go. Beef, pork, or chicken, or whatever you fancy. Make a large amount and it will keep for days in the fridge (can be frozen, of course). All you need are cheap cuts (not cheap because they´re low quality. In fact, I´d take beef shank or cheek over tenderloin anyday) of meat, onion, carrot, garlic, etc, and tomatoes and some herbs. Wine´s good; stock´s even better (not those canned ones, but you already know this, I assume), but you can even use water if you need more moisture. Braised meat with potato, bean, or rice is a simple but fine meal.

post #8 of 9

We covered a lot of this ground in an older thread on college cooking.

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/59957/cooking-for-dirt-poor-college-student  I think you'll find that useful.

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedsPaprika View Post

For advising me on tomato sauce please skip to the bar. For general advice, kindly read on.

Experience: 8 semesters in High School (every day for four years) of Culinary Arts. NOT Home Economics. We actually cooked food. And lots of it. From morning snacks, to pastries, to BBQ to literally a ton and a half of food (3000+ pounds of food) for a single charity event. So I am familiar with methods and standards. What I am not familiar with, is cooking for 1.

 

Recent Diet:
Ramen. Really, that was pretty much it. A little beef or chicken maybe twice a week, but about 3 packs of ramen a day.

Current Diet:

Spaghetti. Tomatoes and onions, with a few diced bell peppers for sauce. Throw in some ground beef for protein.

Salad. Romaine lettuce (rough chop) with a little diced onion, tomato wedges, carrot slices (however I feel like cutting them) and Italian dressing.

Lots and lots and lots and lots of tea. Green tea. Black tea. Herbal, Chinese Rose Bud, Aged Green Tea, etc...

 

Desired Diet: Mostly fruits and vegetables. Meat will be mainly used for Japanese dishes. Pasta made from scratch.

I am currently living on-campus as a university student. I much prefer eating healthier, tastier food I cook myself, than some buffet meal plan. I am trying to keep my food expenses low ($50 or so a week, or less. I typically go shopping only when I have no food left, which I expect to be about once a month, and I only buy what I know I will eat. Meaning, no chicken nuggets, TV dinners, brownie/cake mixes, etc...

I like tomatoes. A lot. So I am more than willing to eat tomatoes in one form or another each day (maybe it runs in the family...).

My main issue, is that I lack creativity.
I have dried garbanzo beans for hummus.
I have avocados for Guacamole.
I have lots of pecans and almonds. Some walnuts.
I would like to make a carrot cake with minced pecans. However, I have no cake-pan (on my list...). I am used to using false-bottom pans w/ aluminum foil and water bath. Could I get a recommendation for a good, sturdy (we used stainless steel back in class) pan, and a recipe that won't leave the surface of the cake rubbery?

General college-student budget-eating-yet-still-healthy-and-fresh tips?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So... I have a tomato sauce in the works. I tossed half a diced onion on an un-oiled saute pan, then added some tomato squares (freshly sliced) and let that heat up open-aired. After it cooked down a bit, I added some thyme, cayenne pepper and oregano and stirred it up with my wooden spoon. I then sliced up some more tomato and added that (total of 2 1/2 lg tomatoes). Replacing the lid, I diced up some coloured bell peppers (Approx 1 1/2, I used mini peppers), added those,and left to simmer.

Please do not jibe me for calling it a tomato sauce when it is not all that tomato-ish. I can't really make a stock pot full of the stuff at a time.

It was quite aeromatic a while ago. I lack a chinacap or other strainer. I also do not have a blender, so a coulis is out of the question.
How might I go about creating a better sauce, having minimal equipment and only what I can buy at my nearest Publix?

I apologize if I seem a little sprawled all over the place with my thoughts. I am quite tired.

EDIT~~~
Other than flash-boiling the tomatoes and removing the skin.


WOW! Eating Ramen 3 times a day is boring and completely unhealthy for your body. The amount of sodium that you are importing into your body is outrageous!!!

 

How much water are you drinking a day?


As for a solution on finding cheap food, go to Costco and stock up on eggs, chicken, and other small frozen dinners.

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