College-cost-friendly meals are so important when you’re a broke student. Every college kid knows the struggle of trying to find meals to get them through the week. The worst part is always the planning: what if something goes wrong? What if the money needs to be spent somewhere else? What if there is not even enough to get yourself through the week without help? College is difficult enough without this kind of stress!
Eating out is so expensive that it cannot be done every night, and as much as your friends like you, I’m certain that they don’t want to be feeding you every night. That’s only more stress for them to spend money. Luckily, there is a solution, and it’s perfect for any student trying to get themselves through the pain of making choices. The ideal college student can’t afford more than a few dollars a week in food. So here’s how to make the best of a few bucks and turn hunger into happiness. Time to save both you and your wallet!
1. Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole
This is one of the easiest things in the world to make and only takes a few things. It’s perfect for a night in where you have to make something out of almost nothing, or when you have a friend coming and you need to consider her vegan diet. Ideal for lunch or dinner, you will have everyone coming to join you for impromptu meals.
Quinoa (1 cup), black beans (30 oz.), taco seasoning (1 packet), veggie broth (3 cups), and black bean corn salsa (1 jar). Those are the basics. In addition, add in two sweet potatoes, a yellow onion, and some diced tomatoes, around 30 oz. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop the sweet potatoes and onion. Spray a casserole pan with non-stick cooking oil, and mix everything up inside of it. Put it in the oven, and after about 45 minutes, pull it out and stir everything for a second time. Cover with foil and place the dish back in for another half hour. Repeat this process once more.
Once you remove this creation from the oven, let the casserole sit for 10 minutes and then serve. Here are the Mexican flavors everyone has come to love, all mixed up into one flavorful bite. If you feel creative, don’t be afraid to add in lime or avocado, but there’s enough flavor here to work with if you can’t get hold of such.
This recipe makes enough for a number of people, but if you’re riding solo for the time being, then it can certainly be used for leftovers.
2. Tuna Salad
Easy. Four ingredients and your sandwich has been made. Canned tuna, Greek yogurt (plain), lemon juice, and chives. Toss these together and you have your on-the-go meal that you made yourself! It goes wonderfully with everything that you could want as a topping, from crackers to cucumbers. My recommendation is to make it early in the week in a large batch because the lemon juice will keep this for 5 days in your refrigerator. The reason it’s so amazing, though, is because it takes less than five minutes if you’re in a hurry. Through it in between two slices of bread, toss an apple in there, and there’s lunch for the day!
I should stress the benefit of making this ahead of time. While you may think the day of that you have time to make this, it’s always better to have things on hand instead of having to throw them together last-minute. When you rush, you’re likely to forget something, and you’ll end up with less-than-ideal meals because of that. It’s advisable for you to make as many things ahead of time as possible, during the weekend or when you have a few hours off after classes. That way, you’ll always be prepared before the moment hits.
3. Crockpot Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oats
Yes, you read that correctly! Crock-pots are horribly underrated, especially for students, who have too much to do and not enough time on their hands. The wonder of this is that they let you cook everything for as long as you need to, and it will always be amazing. I’ve had ribs or stew before that spent the entire day in that small miracle, and while oatmeal is not traditionally a dish for the crockpot, it will be just as delicious!
All you have to do is spritz your crockpot with non-stick cooking oil (which, by the way, should always be in your cabinet as a necessity), but if a substitute is needed, use coconut oil. Throw in a cup or two of steel-cut oats, depending on how much you like oats, add six cups of almond milk (unsweetened, naturally, this will be sweet enough as it is!), and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Add in an eighth of a teaspoon of sea salt, an entire vanilla bean paste (yes, the whole thing!), and a third of a cup of maple syrup. Then, all you have to do is whip all together in your cooker, and voila!
This can run for as little as four hours, or go all the way up to eight! Just make sure that your cooker is on slow if it’s going to pull a full-time shift. If possible, stir the mixture every once in a while (I would recommend every hour or so), just to ensure nothing is sticking, but if you have class, then don’t worry about it. For obvious safety reasons, please don’t let this go on overnight when you’re sleeping. Once it’s all finished, mix for about 2 minutes. Watch to make sure everything becomes thick and well-combined. Then, you are free to serve with fruit, nut butter, and some sides if you feel like you have time to make them. Frozen hash browns are quick, and sausage can be fried in a pan in about five minutes.
A university student’s life is never easy, so we have to rely on the simple things to get through the semester. We don’t want to have to think about what our next meal is and realize that we should have started it in the middle of a class! Too late to leave now. Great. Now you’re ordering out again because you didn’t think ahead. To avoid this craziness and be better prepared for our future, both immediate and in the long term, planning is a must. Whatever can be done to remove that stress, do it early on! These college-cost-friendly meals will help make your life so much less stressful.