One of the biggest challenges students face during their time in college is how to feed themselves. Do they risk eating cafeteria food? Do they have enough money to go out to eat or buy groceries? One common conception of college students is that we are “broke.” Additionally, most people seem to miss home cooked meals when they come to college. So, in an effort to help bring flavors from home, and not starve ourselves because we don’t have enough money to spend, I have picked out and tried a few small-budget recipes that I think people would like.
Vegetable Soup: serves 6 – 8 people
½ cup each diced, optional:
1 cup kidney beans (canned or cooked)
1 cup pasta (cooked or raw, preferably not spaghetti noodles)
2 quarts boiling water
½ teaspoon dried basil flakes
1 tablespoon butter
Add salt and pepper as you see fit, although I recommend at least one tablespoon.
- Fill a large pot with 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil.
- Heat butter in a medium-sized frying pan and place all the vegetables into the pan and stir for about 5 minutes.
- Add vegetable mix to boiling water. Also add beans, pasta, and basil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper.
If you want a stronger and thicker soup, use less water and more of the other ingredients. The more salt you add, the stronger the soup’s flavor will be.
Chicken Soup: serves 6 people
1 chicken breast, diced
½ cup each diced:
- Fill a large pot halfway with water and add chicken, carrots, onions, and celery. Bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes covered.
- Add salt (be generous for more flavor), pepper, parsnips and potatoes, and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
- Let cool.
Feel free to add chicken bouillon to the water broth in the beginning stage. If you want to add softer vegetables, such as tomatoes, zucchini, or cabbage, add during the second 30 minute cooking time.
Now, for dessert!
For something easy, let’s start with cookies. Chocolate chip and sugar cookies are the most basic cookies you can make in college on a low budget. However, there are some other cookies that are just as affordable, or cheaper, and offer a different taste and texture. Some of my favorites include chewy molasses cookies, thumbprint cookies, walnut balls, and shortbread.
Shortbread: makes 24 cookies.
1 ½ – 2 cups all-purpose flour (depending on whether or not you add walnuts – see below*)
½ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
*½ cup toasted or untoasted walnuts – Process the walnuts in a food processor with ½ cup flour until the nuts are finely ground.
- Preheat oven to 325 °F.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour and sugar until blended.
- Using your fingertips, blend butter into the mixture until thoroughly combined and crumbly.
- Using your hands, press dough into the bottom of an ungreased baking sheet.
- Bake until golden brown (25-30 minutes). Remove from oven and cut into blocks while still warm. Then let cool and remove from pan.
Chewy molasses cookies: makes 24 cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
¼ cup molasses
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Measure ½ cup sugar and put it off to the side for later.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup of sugar until combined. Beat in egg and molasses until combined. Gradually mix in dry ingredients until dough forms.
- Pinch off and roll dough into balls, about one tablespoon each, and roll in the small bowl of sugar until completely coated.
- Place dough balls on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. (For best results, bake one cookie sheet at a time.)
- Let cool and enjoy!
Quick baking tips:
- Even though recipes say to use unsalted butter, I like using salted butter because it strengthens the other flavors.
- Some recipes recommend margarine as an alternative to butter. However, I have found that margarine does not have the same consistency as butter. Besides, butter tastes better!
- A good alternative to sugar is maple syrup. Use ¾ cup of syrup for every ½ cup of sugar.
- You can buy most of these ingredients in bulk, as they save and are cheaper that way. This is especially true for potatoes and spices.