Easy, cheap recipes

Marlee Baker, Co Editor-in-Chief

Whether it’s moving out of your childhood home into your new apartment or settling into your college dorm, independence is finally within your grasp. Although you suddenly have the freedom to stay out as late as you’d like and do as you wish, you are also responsible for your finances. Bills, events and necessities are now paid with your income alone. Thus, times can become tight, and although you hate to admit it, you can’t live off of cereal and Little Caesar’s forever. But managing your groceries doesn’t have to cost you a fortune – here are some cheap, easy, quick and relatively healthy food choices that will make your parents proud.

Frozen pre-made foods are easy to make after a long day, however, they don’t provide you with all the nutrients your body needs. An egg in place of a chocolate chip waffle for breakfast will provide you with a strengthening boost of protein. Or if you’d like to spice up your breakfast experience, mix 2 eggs, a banana and a pinch of cinnamon in a bowl to create an easy pancake mix. For lunch, try making lettuce wraps or the traditional hearty sandwich as a healthy alternative to Hot Pockets. By getting out of the habit of buying pre-made food, you will not only save money but you’ll avoid the “Freshman 15”.

If you’re living alone, a whole pizza may last you a few days’ worth of food. Likewise, reusing food or leftovers is a great way to save money instead of buying something unique for each meal. For example, the meat from a rotisserie chicken can be used to make chicken sandwiches, wraps, salads and quesadillas. Not only are you rewarded with flavorful meals, but with the creativity needed to think of such recipes you are simultaneously boosting your future Iron Chef skills.

Another way to ensure your victory in the young adulthood spinoff version of Iron Chef is to practice your ability to use mundane food in extraordinary ways, such as mini pizza rolls. A roll of croissants, pepperoni, a package of string cheese and a can of tomato sauce can be easily bought at your local supermarket. First, lay each individual croissant dough out along a tray. Then, place a horizontally-cut string cheese half and one or two pepperonis on top of the dough. Flip and press the edges of the dough around the pepperoni and cheese so you form a little mini pizza roll. Cook for ten minutes, and enjoy dipped in warm tomato sauce — a creative and delicious recipe Gordon Ramsay would surely approve of.

Top Ramen is often the leading punchline in jokes about end-of-the-month meal choices, but it’s commonly given a bad rep. Its cheap noodles can be used in various other recipes. Craving spaghetti? Cook ramen noodles normally but throw away the spice package, instead adding tomato sauce and a few Italian meatballs. Italian takeout too expensive? Make your own chicken alfredo by throwing in some of that beautifully malleable rotisserie chicken with ramen noodles, stirring with alfredo sauce. Pasta salad can even be made, tossing zucchini and carrot ribbons into chilled ramen noodles within a sophisticated vinaigrette. Although not by any means healthy, these top Ramen hacks help turn soggy noodles into American culinary art.

So, the next time you head out to go grocery shopping, remember to be creative. Who says you have to eat the same, cheap foods?   Impress your friends and roommates by using these tips to make healthy and unique meals.