Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Broke Student Kitchen: Tuna Burgers, Mac & Cheese, Slow Cookers

This week on Broke Student Kitchen, we will discover the amazing world of tuna burgers, mac & cheese, and slow cookers. That last one isn't a recipe, technically, but it's pretty awesome and involves food, so just go with it.  Anyway: first up, Tuna Burgers!

Tuna Burgers
Ever had a crab cake? This is like that, except mad cheap and super easy to make! These burgers are flaky and delicious, and DON'T taste like a tuna fish sandwich. (Which was weird, since the ingredients are super similar, but they just don't.)  Here's what you'll need to make 3 little burger patties or 2 medium patties (or one GIANT patty). Note: the prices are based on average prices I've seen in the past month or so.

1 can tuna: $0.80
1 egg: $0.10
3 tablespoons bread crumbs*: $0.25
1 tablespooon Mayonnaise or plain yogurt: $0.10
Spices: mustard, salt/pepper, paprika, parsley, dill, lemon, garlic, onion. Choose a few or use them all! $.25

Total estimated cost: $1.50

Drain your tuna and add it to a bowl. Mix in egg, bread crumbs, mayo, and spices. Heat your skillet (or George Foreman or whatever) to medium. Use some nonstick spray. Form your tuna mixture into patties (or just get a big spoonful and splat it on the skillet and smush it out some, close enough). Cook until lightly browned on one side, then turn patties over. When the other side is browned (about 5 minutes or so) they're done! Eat them plain or dress them up like you would eat a burger. They're yummy with ketchup or mustard, or make some sort of fancy sauce by mixing mayo with cajun spices or something crazy like that.  Yum!

Mac & Cheese (The Healthy Way)
Every college student loves Mac & Cheese. Probably because it comes in a box and all you have to do is add water, right? Well, making baked mac & cheese REALLY doesn't take a heck of a lot more effort than that, and this version is SO much healthier. Plus, it tastes a lot better - none of that artificial cheez-whiz taste. Yuck.  Here's what you'll need and how to do it:

1 Box Macaroni: $1.00
1 cup (or more) Shredded Cheddar Cheese: $1.00
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek): $0.60
1 cup frozen spinach: $0.35
2 eggs: $0.20
Spices: Salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, onion, garlic, paprika, oregano, onion. Use some or all! $.10
OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup Ground Beef $1.00, veggies, 3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs*: $0.25 (I used cereal)

Total Estimated Cost (with meat): $4.50 
Servings: at least 4

Preheat your oven to 350.

1. Cook your pasta al dente: boil water, add a tiny bit of olive oil and some salt, add pasta, turn heat down, remove when pasta is tender.

2. Drain pasta and add frozen spinach. This way thee spinach will dethaw when mixed with the pasta and get distributed better.

3. Cook meat (if you're using meat): heat skillet to medium. Add crumbled up pieces of meat. Cook until browned. (Pro tip: do this while the pasta is cooking).

4. Add pasta to a large baking dish, casserole-sized. I got my aluminum baking tins from the Dollar Tree, 2/$1.

5. Mix together yogurt, cheese, egg, and spices. This is the "cheese sauce" for your pasta. The more yogurt and cheese you use, the more gooey and cheesy the pasta will be!

6. Add cheese sauce, meat, and any veggies you have available to your baking dish. I had some cherry tomatoes as you can see. (They freeze well! I stock up when they're on sale and keep them in the freezer to throw into things like this.) Mix everything around so it's distributed evenly.

7.  Add a layer of cheese and a layer of bread crumbs, to give it that yummy crust on top.

 8. Pop your casserole dish in the oven (you preheated it at 350, right?) And bake it for 20 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and beginning to brown.

9. Dig in and enjoy your healthy/cheap mac & cheese!! It should sort of look like this:

* For breadcrumbs, you can use anything crumby that you have on hand, like bottom-of-the-bag chip leftovers, smushed pretzel pieces, cereal crumbs, croutons, or just tear up some stale bread. I have a stale loaf in my fridge that is rock hard but gets used for bread crumbs all the time! Or, of course, you can buy some.

Slow Cookers

So I got a slow cooker for Christmas, and I'm obsessed with it. Cooking with a slow cooker is so simple that simple doesn't even cover it. You literally just throw some stuff in there, turn it on, go to class and come back 4-8 hours later to dinner. It's AWESOME. Cooking food slowly makes it SUPER tender, so meat just falls off the bone and veggies are perfectly soft. You don't even need recipes to cook in a slow cooker. Here is something I did last week: put some chicken in slow cooker. Add a couple spices on top. Turn on high. Wait 4 hours. Done. THAT'S IT.

 Basically you just throw in everything you have on hand and wait. You can make soups or stews, cook chicken and/or veggies, even pasta (though I haven't tried it yet) and other grains without having to prep anything in advance. Just throw it in and go!! Sound good? It gets better - you can pick up a slow cooker for less than $20! I found a few that are right around the $10 range. If you find yourself never having the time to prepare a cheap, healthy home cooked meal, get yourself a slow cooker. It's a huge time saver and so, so simple to use.

Coming up next time on Broke Student Kitchen: meatballs and burgers on the cheap.

My favorite paid-to site is Swagbucks. I earn at least $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Read more about Swagbucks in this entry.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Freebies of the week 4/11! FREE soda, tea, toothpaste, lotion, Cinnabon bites, and more!

Get 2 FREE Classic Cinnabon Bites on April 17 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at participating locations as part of Cinnabon’s Tax Day Bites promotion. No coupon necessary.

FREE sample of Zevia All Natural Soda! Click Here

FREE Sample of Lipton Mango Pineapple Tea & Honey. Click Here

FREE Tom's of Maine Strawberry kid's toothpaste sample! Click Here

FREE sample of Carefree Acti-Fresh Pantiliners!  Click Here

FREE 15-song Coachella All-Stars playlist! Click Here to download.

FREE Cutex Nail Polish Remover pad! Click Here

FREE sample of UriFemme Feminine Hygiene! Click Here 

FREE Eucerin Itch Relief sample. "Like" the Facebook Page and watch the short video.

FREE Prilosec OTC sample! Select "2-3 days per week" to quality. Click Here

FREE Sample subscription to Men's Fitness magazine! You'll have to fill out some information, take a short survey and click "continue" a couple times, but it does go through. Click Here 

FREE Satchet of Sebamed Liquid Face & Body Wash for sensitive skin. Like” the Facebook page 

FREE Sample of REBOOTizer Detox Shaker Drink. Like” the Facebook page 

FREE Kindle eBook: 23 Delicious and Nutritious Vegetarian Lunch Recipes. Click Here

FREE Travel Guides & Brochures to destinations in every state, mailed straight to your door. Click Here

FREE sample of TRESemme Split Remedy Shampoo & Conditioner! Watch a quick video and take a 1-question quiz. Click Here

FREE Kiehl's Starter Kit! Kiehl's is running a Recycle and Be Rewarded promotion from April 18 through April 30.Just bring in any empty cosmetics container and they will reward you with a free Kiehl's Starter Kit in an environmentally friendly pouch. If you b ring in up to 10 empties, it entitles you to a free full-sized product up to a $25.00 value! This offer is valid at free-standing Kiehl's stores only. Click Here for more information

My favorite paid-to site is Swagbucks. I earn at least $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Read more about Swagbucks in this entry.

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Save Gas, Save Money: 10 Tips for Getting More Miles Per Gallon

So by now you've probably noticed the ridiculously insane prices of gas. There's no way around it for many of us who have to drive to class every day during the week, not to mention running errands, driving to work, driving to friends' houses - there's no way around it, gas is a huge expense for most of us! But take heart, there are was to conserve your gas, which means filling up less often and saving more money! To learn how, read on.

 1. Lay off the gas pedal! Every time you touch your gas pedal to accelerate, you're using gas - meaning you're spending money. The less you touch that pedal, the more you save! So if you see a stop light up ahead, take your foot off the gas. If you're rolling down a hill, take your foot off the gas. If you're in traffic and the car in front of you moved forward, don't touch that gas pedal - just let your car roll! The less you accelerate (and the less you have to brake, which means you wasted gas) the more you save. Practice letting your car coast as you go down a hill, come to a stop sign or red light and during traffic rather than hitting the pedal and watch the savings add up. And avoid road rage - speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent while driving in the city. 

2. Clean out your car. If you needed a good reason to clean it out, this is it - carrying around extra stuff in your means your car has to work harder and use more gas, especially if your extra stuff is heavy. If you're guilty of having a full trunk or carrying around boxes of stuff that you don't really need, now's the time to move it all inside! You can save up to 9 gallons of gasoline per year – almost $40 – by removing an extra 100 pounds of unneeded items from the trunk.

 3. Give your car a checkup. When was the last time your car got checked over? Do you need an oil change? Are your brakes OK? Do your tires need air? ... No idea? You could save gas by getting a tune-up, and it's FREE to get a checkup at most car places (Midas will give you a FREE break check and check the rest of your car for FREE too! It takes about an hour as you wait) or at your dealership. Make sure your car is in tip-top condition so you are getting the maximum miles per gallon.

 4. Crack a window. Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce mpg by 5 – 25% compared to not using it. Open up the window and enjoy the spring breeze instead! Note: this is gas efficient at low speeds, but not efficient at high speeds, so instead, try to keep your air conditioner on a lower setting if you're on the highway.

 5. Combine trips and plan ahead. Ever found yourself driving to the same place twice in one day? Well, that's a waste of gas if you can combine those two trips into one! Plan your errands on your way to or from work or school, combine your errands into one trip and plan the most efficient route. If your errands can wait, make one day your "Errand day" and get everything done all at once so you don't have to make multiple trips. The less you drive, the more gas you save!

 6. Carpool. Is there anyone who can chip in for gas for a ride to class each day? Maybe your roommate needs to go to the grocery store and you guys can split the cost of gas. Or maybe you can bum a ride to a party with a friend. However you do it, carpooling saves money. If you're taking a road trip or going home on the weekend, post about it in your school's classifieds or see if there's a ride-share section online or in the paper (or, try Craigslist). The more people you ride with (and divide up the gas with), the cheaper your trip is! 

7. Don't Speed. Unless you're on the highway, don't go over 60 mpg: each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas. And on the highway, make sure you're driving at the speed limit - speeding tickets will cost you around $200, and that's NOT worth getting there 5 minutes faster!

 8. Don't idle your car. It's bad for your wallet and it's bad for the environment. If you're sitting in your car, crack a window and turn it off, whether your parked or just waiting for a train to pass.

This is one way to save gas money, but I don't recommend it.
 9. Consider traffic conditions. If you find yourself driving home in rush-hour traffic every day, spend some time reading a book or enjoy a coffee in the sunshine before you drive home to avoid traffic. Stop-and-go traffic is incredibly gas inefficient, involves a lot of idling, causes stress and takes forever. Avoid it as much as you can, even if it means waking up a few minutes earlier.

 10. Use other means of transportation. Sure, it might not be as fast, but taking the bus or walking saves you a LOT of gas! Most campuses have free bus service available for students, and you can usually walk just about everywhere on campus. If you've ever driven 5 minutes to class just because you didn't feel like walking, definitely reconsider: walking is healthy, it's nice and warm outside, and you'll be saving money. At the very least, take the bus! Heck, you have to pay for it anyway in your tuition, might as well use it.

 When you do need to fill up, download the GasBuddy app for your smart phone to find out where the cheapeast gas is near you, or use the GasBuddy website! Just don't go way out of your way to save a couple of cents - that would be a waste of gas.

 Other ways to save on gas:

  • Pay with cash. Some gas stations give a discount for this.
  • Use the Kroger Fuel Rewards program to save on gas at Kroger. Some people like to buy a $50 gas gift card just to get the $.10/gallon discount, and then use it to pay for the gas! How's that for clever? 
  • Do some mystery shops at gas stations! Or, plan a mystery shop on a trip or errand to help pay for your gas. Learn more about mystery shopping here. 
 You can read some more gas-saving tips in this article and also in this one.

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

My favorite paid-to site is Swagbucks. I earn at least $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Read more about Swagbucks in this entry. 
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