Greetings and salutations!
In today's lesson of the college survival guide, we will be going over the different ways we can conserve on money within college, and the first step is preparing all of our meals!
As a college student, I am very proud to say that I have not eaten as much ramen noodles as some of my colleagues, and in the same realm, I can forego the 25 cent cup ramen by having a lot of other delicious meals at a slightly larger cost per serving, but the nutrition and the overall taste make it worth it!
When I started here at UAT, I ended up buying a couple small appliances. Sure we had our microwave and mini fridge already, but I decided that I wanted to be able to prepare some of my own food, because I used to do that all the time back at home! Some things in particular would be:
- Crock Pot
- Rice Cooker (with steaming tray)
- Pots & Pans / General Cookware
- Glass Casserole Dishes
With all of the above items, you would definitely be able to prepare some food at your leisure! It may be easy to go out and grab some fast food or order delivery just for the sake of convenience, but when you can cook your own food, you can definitely save yourself some money in the long run, especially if you make food in bulk like I do!
Some of my favorite dishes or foods that I cook regularly would be:
- Hamburgers & Steak (and with meat prices low during this time, it's the perfect time to buy!)
- Hot Dogs (on the grill it's so great)
- Rice (you can almost pair rice with everything and it's so cheap)
- Chicken Alfredo (either in the dish or in the crock pot)
- Macaroni & Cheese (3 cheese mac and cheese with a lunch meat within)
Rice is quite possibly the most versatile option that I cook regularly in the sense that I could literally make almost anything with rice included. And being Half Korean, I have had my own share of interesting experiences with rice, and I cannot help but include a little bit of Asian flare in my dishes!
Below I'll go ahead and list one of my favorite meals, of which you do not need exact portion, but can be prepared to taste, and you can work from there! Also it's worth noting that every piece of this can be purchased at an Asian Market, of which the total cost may average around $25-30 to start out with, but everything from the sauces to the rice will last quite a while, knocking the cost per serving straight down!
Spicy Crab Rice Bowl:
What you need:
- Rice Cooker (or something to cook rice in)
- 3 cups white rice
- 1 cup Chunked Imitation Crab Meat (you find it in your local grocery store next to the overpriced sushi or with fish)
- 2 tbsp. Mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. Sriracha Hot Sauce (more or less depending on level of heat)
- 1/2 cup Kimchi
- Hot Chili Red Bean Paste (this can be overpowering, but in the case that you want more heat, it's a good option)
- Nori (seaweed)
In your rice cooker, prepare the rice, it should take around 15-20 min depending on your rice cooker.
In the bowl you will be eating out of, throw in the crab, mayonnaise and Sriracha hot sauce. You can add more mayo to make it creamier, or more Sriracha to make it spicier. This mixture is to simulate the Spicy Crab Rolls you can generally find anywhere in sushi bars or American chain Japanese Grills.
Once the crab has been mixed together and has been flavored to taste, move it to one side of the bowl.
Throw rice into the other half of the bowl.
On the rice side, put the kimchi on one end, and a little bit of the hot chili red bean paste on the other (not too much cause the taste can be a little overpowering!)
Finally dig in and eat it a bit with the nori as well too in case you'd like a little bit of a sushi feel to it!
The purpose of this dish is to simulate eating a spicy crab roll, just with everything else being separated. You can add in some sesame oil or rice vinegar to give it more of a sushi bar taste, but overall, it's quite possibly one of the cheapest meals I know, can be made in bulk, and has so many flavors I love that bring in a wave of nostalgia.
Given if you do not like Asian dishes or Korean Cuisine that much, this probably isn't the best for you, but even making your own mac and cheese or some spaghetti can save a lot of money and leave leftovers for a while afterwards too!
Until then, consider learning to cook some of your own food, because the idea of being able to dominate the kitchen and prepare things on a whim is a great feeling, and I'm definitely not limited to anything in the restaurants around here, or fast food woes too! The cost is overall pretty cheap, and it's a skill that can definitely go a long way!
Until next time,