Don’t forget to enter my Guayaki yerba mate giveaway! Entries close at 11:59 Saturday night!
It’s about that time in the semester when we’re all thinking that maybe life would be easier if we just drop out. Most college students are spending their nights huddled around piles of books, taking a short 10-minute break to eat a dinner that usually consists of uncooked Ramen noodle crumbs. (If you’ve never crunched up raw Ramen noodles and sprinkled the seasoning packet over them, you’re missing out on the college experience.) If you live on campus, you’re probably down to the last few cents on your meal card. If you live in an apartment, you might have fought with your roommates over the twelve remaining spaghetti noodles that are the sole occupants of your near-empty pantry.
I can’t help you with your overwhelming workload, but I can give you a few pointers on how to eat healthy when you’re down to your last few bucks. Being in college is stressful, and it can do terrible things to your body (I’m talking to you, Frattie McDudebro). Prioritize health and nutritious food, even with a college-sized budget, with these 5 tips.
- Money-saving tip #1: Eat less meat, and eat more beans and legumes.
Many of my blog-readers and friends think I’m vegetarian because I don’t eat many animal products. In reality, I eat meat once or twice a week, primarily because I don’t miss it, and also because it’s expensive. Substituting a bean or lentil dish for your “main course” is easy: just try spicy lentil soup, cilantro-jalapeno hummus on top of a salad, or homemade veggie burgers.
- Money-saving tip #2: Try to go a week without grocery shopping, or only buy perishable essentials like produce and milk.
A few weeks ago I realized we had a lot of non-perishables: frozen spaghetti sauce, canned or frozen veggies, pasta, etc. So I decided to go a week making meals from only the ingredients we had at home. It was so easy, and now we have a lot more room in our pantry.
- Money-saving tip #3: If you can bike or walk, do it.
Ever since I bought a road bike, I’ve been biking EVERYWHERE. I’m going to start biking to work when classes end and I have more time to commute. Biking or walking may take a little more time, but they really cut back on gas used for those short trips to the store and school. If you’re a Longhorn without a bike, check out UT’s Orange Bike Project to rent one. Just be sure to hydrate and wear a helmet!
- Money-saving tip #4: Shop smart.
If there’s a product I can make myself, like pasta sauce or granola bars, I generally don’t buy it. Almost everything I cook with is an off-brand. I clip coupons, both from the newspaper and online. I buy in-season produce. I compare unit prices. You’d be surprised how much the little things add up!
- Money-saving tip #5: Recreate your favorite restaurant recipes at home for a fraction of the price.
Remember when I told you about the ginger tempeh pasta I had at Wheatsville? I fell in love with it, but I knew I couldn’t eat a Wheatsville every day. So I experimented and found a recipe that’s about as cheap as the small serving I ate, but serves 5-6! Next time your friends suggest going out to eat, find some recipes for a cooking/baking night instead.
Tofu Sesame Ginger Noodles. Serves 5-6.
3 c. dry whole-wheat rotini
1 block firm tofu
3 carrots, sliced into matchsticks, and raw or lightly steamed
4-5 green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
2-3 cups of fresh baby spinach, chopped roughly
For the sauce:
1/4 c. soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp. rice vinegar (I used black vinegar)
1-2 tsp. sugar
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2-3 tbsp. peanut butter or tahini butter
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Boil the pasta. Press the tofu (using these instructions), dice it up, and throw it under the broiler for 6-8 minutes, stirring once in the middle. Whisk up the sauce. Mix everything together. Amen.