Thursday, May 5, 2011

Broke Student Recipes: NOT RAMEN

Occasionally there comes a time in every students life where they are hungry, and they have the time to cook something. One the chance occasion that this opportunity arises, it is worth taking advantage of it - and I don't mean by tossing a frozen pizza in the oven or adding hot sauce to your ramen (that's not cooking, guys!). Treat your body and your wallet with some nutritious, delicious, cheap(icious) recipes that are super easy to make!

Recipe #1: Shakshuka

"Shakshuka" is an African/Isreali dish, which essentially consists of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce. I used Ragu. Here's the recipe I made up as I went along, along with the prices (using approximated grocery store prices for in-season goods).

3 Eggs $.45
3/4 cup of pasta sauce $.45
1/2 of an onion $.16
A few cilantro and parsley leaves $.10
1 clove of garlic .01
1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese $.10

1. Heat the pasta sauce in a saucepan on about a 7 or 8 level of heat.
2. Add chopped onion, crushed garlic clove, and cilantro leaves.
3. When sauce is bubbling and hot, drop in the eggs. Allow to cook.
4. Stare dubiously at dissappearing eggs and wonder how on earth you will know when they are cooked.
5. Wait 6-8 minutes, assume they MUST be cooked, poke around in the sauce a bit, pour saucepan out into a bowl and find 3 perfectly poached eggs hiding underneath the sauce. Decide to use less sauce next time.
6. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and parsley leaves. Inhale the aroma of your simmering, delicious creation, dig in while it is still too hot and burn your tongue. Make tea and wait for dish to cool somewhat. Enjoy.
My creation looked like this:

Total price: $1.27 (serves 1)

Note: although I happened to have these ingredients on hand, you'd probably do just fine without fresh herbs or even the cheese- just heat up your favorite pasta sauce, add an onion (it helps make it more hearty so you're not just eating soupy sauce) and sprinkle some parmesan or whatever on top if you like.

Recipe #2: Chicken with Bok Choy Stir Fry

This is another recipe that I made up as I went along, and I've made it several times since. It is INSANELY filling thanks to the Bok Choy, and super cheap! Bok Choy, or Chinese Cabbage, is a healthy, filling vegetable. The leaves are similiar to spinach and the stalks are tasteless and full of water, allowing them to absorb the flavor of the dish while providing filler. You can buy Bok Choy in any grocery store. During the summer it's $1.00/lb which is when I start making this dish all the time.

1 Chicken Breast $.75
1 large stalk of Bok Choy $.75
1/4 cup Soy Sauce $.20 (or use packets from a Chinese Restaurant for free!)
1/4 cup Canola or Olive Oil $.30
1/2 cup rice $.25 (any kind of rice you have is fine. I used leftovers.)
Optional: garlic powder, onion, ginger, black pepper

1. Prepare your chicken by defrosting it and cutting it into sections - strips, cubes, whatever you want.
2. Prepare your Bok Choy by washing it thoroughly and removing the green leaves from the stalks. Shred the leaves into smaller pieces and dice the stalks.
3. Make rice. I trust you know how to do this. You are a college student after all.
4. While your rice is cooking, heat a large skillet/wok on the stove at a medium setting (maybe a 5 or 6). Pour the oil and 1/2 of the soy sauce into the pan, and then add your chopped chicken and your chopped Bok Choy Stalks. The stalks will absorb all the flavor of the chicken while it is cooking, plus they take longer to cook than the leaves. While the stalks/chicken are cooking, add in any spices you wanted to use.
5. After the chicken has begun to turn white and is close to browning, add the Bok Choy leaves and the rest of the soy sauce. By the time the leaves are bright green and wilted, the chicken should be done! Pour your creation into a tupperware or whatever you're eating out of this week.
6. You didn't burn the rice, did you? I hope you didn't, because I'll feel bad for not writing out instructions. Anyway, go figure out your rice situation, and then put the stir-fry on top of it and eat!
Here was my creation:

Total Cost: $2.25 (Serves 2, or 1 if you are REALLY hungry)

Recipe #3: Lobster Roll's Cheaper, Healthier Younger Sister Recipe

Anyone who's ever been to Massachusets has most likely sampled a few local specialties: New England Clam Chowder, baked beans, raspberry lime rickies, Indian Pudding, and the infamous lobster roll. (If I've already lost you, read on! I promise not to name-drop any strange foods anymore.) The lobster roll is like the classy, grown-up big sister of the tuna salad and chicken salad sandwhich. If you took tuna or chicken salad, and subbed the meat with lobster, and then stuck that into a perfectly buttered and toasted bun, you'd have something a lot like a lobster roll. At its core, lobster rolls are big, meaty chunks of lobster mixed in mayonnaise with some veggies and seasonings - in that delicious buttery bun. I know what you're thinking: mayonnaise? Butter? No way this is even REMOTELY healthy! And with the meat of half a lobster in one sandwhich, it's most likely not affordable to anyone south of Maine. Well take heart, my friends. You, too, can enjoy the fabulous lobster roll...... in the healthier, thinner, cheaper version that I invented! *takes a bow* thank you, thank you. Ahem.

(Note: because everything is to taste and depends on the amount of food you want to make, I am not using any measurements. Basically, however much crabmeat you use, is the amount you'll have - eyeball it so that each serving will fill a hot dog bun generously.)

- Imitation crab meat (don't be scared, it's just flaky white fish!)
- Low fat mayonnaise, like Hellman's
- Lemon juice (doesn't need to be fresh, the plastic squeeze bottles work just fine)
- Salt. Pepper.
- Hot dog buns - I used Fiber One! Healthy and yum. Feel free to get whatever's cheapest, though.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (or regular butter)
- OPTIONAL: pickles, cucumber, celery, fresh basil leaves, capers

1. First, stick a skillet on the stovetop and put on level 7.
2. Spray or coat your hot dog bun on either side with butter subsitute, or rub it all over with butter.
3. Place bun on skillet to brown - keep an eye on it as you prepare the salad, and turn it over after one side is browned.
4. Cut up the crab meat into bite size chunks - not too small, but not so huge that you can't fit 'em in your mouth.
5. Douse with lemon juice, and add a tablespoon of capers or pickles or basil or whatever you have on hand.
6. Add a heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise and mix together until contents are evenly coated.
7. Your bun should be toasted by now, so pop it on a plate, spoon your salad into the bun, and ENJOY.

250 calories, 5g fiber, 10g protein per roll (using the ingredients I used)
(For those of us not familiar: lobster rolls usually run around $15 each!)
Total Cost: $3.00 per roll

And there you have it: 3 recipes that I made up as I went along without much guidance or money. You can do it too! Have fun experimenting! Post your favorite recipes or creations in the comments or on my facebook wall!


  1. I love the chicken and Bok Choy recipe. Its so simple and so tasty. Thanks!

    1. ps do you mind if I share it on my blog? I will be sure to credit you for it!


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