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Old 07-01-2008, 03:52 PM
Location: ft.carson, colorado
83 posts, read 302,178 times
Reputation: 37


Hi everyone this year is going to be my second year in college and will be living off campus. The chefs and mom won't be there to cook for me. my food buget will be about 150 max 200 but really around 100- 150. my mom always brought food and cooked and I never knew how expensive food was.
I'm going to need to make 3 meals a day lunch will probally be sandwishes do you have any quick and easy meals my plan was to cook on sunday 2 meals for the week so I won't get tired of them I'm also really thinking in investing in a crockpot. And What kitchen stuff do you think i will need I plan to buy plastic plates and forks so no worrys about dishes. Give me things you would want your own kids to eat also do you know any cheap snacks I can make when I'm not really hungry. I love meats don't care for burgers to much unless it's meatballs. And also I always wonder how do you know how much to buy how do you not run out doing the week with food?
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:50 PM
Location: Mid Missouri (Miz-oo-ree)
625 posts, read 1,432,392 times
Reputation: 719
[quote=ladyscorpian14;4301294]Hi everyone this year is going to be my second year in college and will be living off campus. The chefs and mom won't be there to cook for me. my food buget will be about 150 max 200 but really around 100- 150. my mom always brought food and cooked and I never knew how expensive food was.
Is that budget weekly...monthly....the whole semester Depending on your answer you may be eatin squirrels. There's a thread on freegans you might need to check out! Need more info to offer advice (other than the wiseguy stuff)
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Old 07-02-2008, 02:51 AM
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,871 posts, read 15,522,496 times
Reputation: 2638
Yes, Lady. You do need to tell us what period of time that $100 to $200 will cover. We can't figure out possible ideas until we know, okay?

Idea: Do you know how expensive plastic forks and plastic or paper plates are? and how bad for the environment they are, in that paper plates use up trees and plastic items won't decompose for what? a thousand years... Also, you will spend far, far more money on constantly replenishing them than you will on thrift store plates, forks, knives and spoons, and dishwashing liquid. Washing a few dishes also keeps your fingernails and knuckles clean :-)
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:46 AM
Location: Southwest Pa
1,440 posts, read 3,728,257 times
Reputation: 1684
I'd suggest learning how to make things that can be divided up into one serving containers and then frozen for future use. Chili is a good thing to consider. Find a basic recipe that suits your taste and it really isn't that expensive. Here's something else, you can make a very good all purpose spaghetti sauce by combining a few basic things. This can be frozen in portions and then added to the pasta or meat of your choice, also cheap.

Save plastic containers with lids, good for freezing. Glass jars too for the same thing, just don't fill them to the top or put the lid on them if you freeze them, plastic wrap will do for those.

Crockpots are excellent, lots of things can be made at a reasonable price that will last a while.

Name brand goods are overrated. With a little work, generic or low priced brands can be tastier than the most expensive national brand. For instance, my spaghetti sauce recipe uses a national brand that sells for 99 cents as its base. (as opposed to the usual brands the run $2.50 or more per jar) Add a few things and I've a sauce the family calls a meal on its own.

Forget plastic utensils. Every dollar spent on that stuff comes right off the top of your food budget. Surely you can find the time to wash a fork or two?
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Old 07-03-2008, 11:29 AM
Location: West Texas
2,441 posts, read 5,374,083 times
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Top Ramen (or something similar) only about 14 cents per package!!
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:22 PM
5,683 posts, read 9,138,706 times
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My younger offspring is attending college and has been cooking for himself for several years. Here are some of his fast, easy and relatively cheap favorites:

Cheater Chili

Brown 1/2 lb hamburger meat. Drain off excess fat/water. Dump in a can of Ranch-Style Beans and heat through. Top with grated cheese if desired. Eat.

Mac-n-Cheese (not the stuff in the box)

Cook 1 package of macaroni elbows according to directions. While mac is cooking, dump one can of cream-of-mushroom soup into a pan over low heat. Add grated cheese (he likes it really cheesy). Stir until the cheese melts. When the mac is done, drain it, dump the soup/cheese over the mac and stir. Can be eaten at this point, or you can put it in a casserole with some breadcrumbs or fried onion rings on top and put it in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or so.


Cook one package of flat noodles according to package directions. Drain and return to pan. Dump in one can of cream-of-mushroom soup and one or two drained cans of tuna fish. Stir to combine and put back on the heat until it's warmed through. If Mom has been nagging you about eating more veggies, add some frozen mixed vegetables to the noodles when you're cooking them.

For your shopping questions, remember to never buy more perishable food than your share of the refrigerator/freezer will hold. It sucks to get home with 15 one-pound packages of hamburger meat and wind up throwing 8 of them away because they wouldn't fit into your part of the freezer. Things like peanut butter, soups, tuna, canned beans, granola bars and dry cereals are your friends. Bread will stay fresh and soft for 3 to 7 days (depending on brand, variety and level of preservatives), will be kind of tough and chewy for a few days after that, and then will start growing biology experiments, so don't buy too much bread at a time. Fresh fruits and vegetables have wildly varying shelf lives; things like apples, potatoes and onions last longest, soft things like peaches, pears and lettuce has the shortest edible time period.

The best way to buy enough food not to run out is to plan out your whole week's meals in advance, and then buy exactly what you'll need for each of them. I recognize that's not an easy task, but if you have to walk or bus to the store instead of just hopping in the car and driving over, you will quickly learn the value of advance planning. Even if you can plan in a general way - say, two meals of tuna-noodles, two mac-n-cheese, one pizza with friends, one ramen noodles and one beanie-weenies - that'll give you the basis for a grocery list.

Good luck in your studies and your new venture into food purchase/preparation!
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:25 AM
Location: Central Texas
20,423 posts, read 37,851,404 times
Reputation: 22587
Beans, rice and cornbread are your friends. Nice thing is, you can cook up a LOT of beans in your preferred recipe and freeze them in serving-size containers.

A big roast can be a meal one day, then made into jambalaya or stew from the cold roast for several more meals.

A roast chicken can be a meal one day, then the rest shredded and put into an Italian garden soup or tortilla soup, jambalaya, chicken salad for sandwiches or all of the above.

If you like shrimp, for a treat (shrimp can be expensive, depending on where you are), get a half a pound of shrimp (peeled and deveined is easiest, but it's cheaper if you peel them yourself), a packet of Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix, and about 6 tablespoons of butter, and some vermicelli. Put the vermicelli on to cook, melt the butter in a skillet (invest in a good cast iron skillet - some things just taste better made in cast iron, and treated right, your grandkids will be using it), stir in the Italian dressing mix, then throw in the shrimp and saute until the shrimp is just done. Drain the cooked vermicelli and mix it into the shrimp/sauce.

This can even be reheated reasonably well in a microwave for two meals; just add more shrimp at the beginning.

Always shop with a list, and don't buy anything that's not on it. Check the grocery store sales flyers for deals, and use coupons (either out of the paper or from online).

Also, ask your Mom for the recipes for your favorites that you made her. Those will be your "comfort foods" when things are tough at school (exams, etc.).

Also, the suggestions for Ramen are good, but dress it up a bit. Throw a bit of leftover meat into it, some chopped green onions, a bit of this, a bit of that. Makes it into something a bit more exciting and nourishing.
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Old 07-06-2008, 09:03 AM
Location: Northern VA
3,872 posts, read 7,777,238 times
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There's a thread on here w/ all kinds of ramen recipes. Plus, here's a HUGE ramen recipe site: http://www.mattfischer.com/ramen/

If you've got day classes, the crockpot will be your BEST friend - you'll come home to a hot meal and won't have to do anything but clear it away when you're done (and tired) and you still have homework and a last minute paper to do. Just remember to splurge on the Reynold's Slow Cooker bags at the grocery store (foil section). Then you'll not have to even clean the crockpot - just swipe it w/ a wet sponge after you're done w/ the food.

Get clearanced meat if you don't have morning classes. Stores usually put meat out on clearance (either the day of or the day before it expires) early in the morning. As long as you throw it in the freezer, it won't go bad and it's usually WAAAY marked down (like $2.50 for 2 - 3 lbs of ground beef instead of $6.50). Also, once you get it home, make sure to divide it up into smaller portions before freezing it.

REPEAT AFTER ME: Dollar Tree is your best friend. They have all kinds of canned goods, boxed goods, snacks, plastic ware, glass ware, seasonings, etc. Some even have cold sections w/ milk, meats, cheese, etc. Go there before you go to ANY grocery store. They've recently stepped up their stock and have more to choose from than ever.

If you have leftovers, take them for lunch. I'm sure your union or food court has microwaves you can use. Why settle for just a sandwich when you can have a hot filling meal?

Try to find recipes that serve 4 so you can divide up the leftovers and have 2 in the freezer for when you come home and don't feel like cooking and one for lunch the next day.
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Old 07-06-2008, 09:19 AM
Location: Middle Tennessee
187,012 posts, read 76,965,413 times
Reputation: 130284
In your haste to avoid expense don't over look quality nutrition. Here's a link that you may like to use for research when planning your budget with nutrition in mind. It's hard to study or work under nourished. Best in you endeavors.

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Old 07-23-2008, 12:11 AM
342 posts, read 1,644,193 times
Reputation: 351
If you're living off campus and will have a full kitchen at your disposal:

Invest in some cheap Corningware dishes. They're microwave, oven, dishwasher-safe and don't break easily. Plastic or disposable utensils are a waste of money.

If you get a plastic microwave-safe steamer, you can steam all sorts of vegetables in the microwave. Have salt and pepper, olive oil, and some versatile spices or spice mixes on hand. Alternately, you can buy those steamer bags but you pay for the convenience.

Casseroles and lasagnas are filling and provide leftovers for the next few days. You can find frozen lasagnas anywhere. Learn a couple casserole dishes (like white chicken spaghetti-super easy and tasty). Pastas are cheap and quick. Learn a few recipes and variations (baked ziti, regular spaghetti, spaghetti alla carbonara, bowtie with spinach and ham, etc). You'll need an oven/microwave/dishwasher-safe dish (again: Corningware is a dorm/apt must). Other foods that make for good leftovers: rice & beans, chili, other pastas.

If you have a toaster-oven, you can toast breads, make pizza bagels (just top bagels with slice of tomato and cheese, tomato sauce optional), or even cook chicken in them. Use aluminum foil when cooking for easy cleanup. If you're cooking for one, toaster ovens come in handy because you don't have to heat up the entire oven and warm the entire apartment (saves energy and $). Some cooked chicken and a bag of greens = nice healthy salad.

Those personal-sized George forman grills are handy for cooking steaks or chicken. I've even grilled zucchini on them. Salt, pepper, and olive oil is a basic for cooking meats and veggies, but you can also buy spice mixes to use as rubs on various meats, or even use salad dressings as marinades (soy ginger dressing for chicken, pesto or italian dressing for meats and veggies, etc). If you have a toaster oven and a couple pans though, you can make do without a personal grill.

Crockpots are great because you can prepare the food, turn it on and then forget about it during the day, then come home to a hot, ready dinner. You can make all kinds of soups and stews, curries, and even cook meat (like brisket or ribs). You can find cookbooks in many bookstores that are entirely devoted to crockpot meals and other single-pot/pan meals. There are also "cooking for one" or even "dorm-food" cookbooks. Check those out too.

Invest in a couple pans and pots (minimum one of each) so you can whip up some easy stuff (cook pasta, sautee veggies, cook meats).

For snacks/small meals: stovetop grilled cheese sandwiches, ham & egg sandwiches, PB & J, pizza bagels, yogurt & fruit, yogurt & granola, cheese crisp (heat tortillas in pan on stovetop, sprinkle mexican cheese blend until melty), granola bars, carrot sticks and other veggies, fruit smoothies (if you have a blender), fruit, microwave-baked potato, omlette (with spinach, tomatoes, ham, cheese, etc).

Also, learn to plan your meals around one central ingredient. For example, if you buy a pre-cooked roast chicken from the store, eat it as a roast for dinner that day, then top some chicken on a salad the next day, then add leftover chicken into a soup the next. Learn what foods freeze well and what's best fresh (eg. spaghetti sauces freeze very well. You can make a big batch and freeze some for later).

Lastly, keep your eyes peeled for coupons and in-store deals, and plan your meals around those items.

Eating pre-packaged foods or frozen meals are ok once in a while, but don't make it a regular habit. Pastas and rice are cheap, but make sure you balance it with proteins and fruits/veggies. Don't make a habit out of ramen, mac-n-cheese, and rice-a-roni. When you do eat these foods, try to make it a bit healthier by adding some meats and veggies in there.

Last edited by vemureaux; 07-23-2008 at 12:21 AM..
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