Money is a big obstacle in college. Rent is rent, and nothing much can be done to make it cheaper. Clothes are really easy to save on especially by shopping at places like goodwill, but that’s for another day. I think the place most people run into trouble is food, so for my first post I will share a few of my food-stretching recipes.
I budget about $100 a month for food and generally under-spend. My main rule is that a meal should cost under $1 per serving, so after 3 meals a day for 31 days it comes to just under $100. My under-spending comes from the fact that I rarely eat breakfast, choosing instead to make myself a large cafe au lait (coffee with milk). Also clubs at my school have a lovely habit of giving out pizza at lunch meetings.
My first trick is the never-ending chicken (aka the 10+ meals in 1 chicken). This is a set of recipes that works well with a rotisserie chicken that most grocery stores sell for about $6. To start, simply carve off the legs (quarters), wings, and breasts, and put the carcass in a pot. Eat the wings on the spot – fresh rotisserie chicken is irresistible anyway. If you’re only cooking for yourself, you can throw the wing bones in with the carcass.
spices (bay leaf, salt, pepper, cumin, rosemary) to taste
Place the carcass in a big pot. I didn’t have a crock pot until this Christmas, so for the past few years I used the largest pot I could find. Sometimes this was a stock pot, sometimes it was a dutch oven, sometimes just a big saucepan – as long as it’s oven safe with a lid and will hold a chicken with a few inches to spare above the breastbone, you’re good. Take the drippings from the package the rotisserie chicken came in and throw them in the pot with the carcass. Then cover with water until the breastbone is covered. Add a bay leaf, salt, pepper, cumin, and whatever other spices you like. Cover and bake at 300F for about 6 hours. After the first 3 hours, stir the chicken so it falls apart a bit. Once the chicken falls apart and the broth is tasty, let it cool and pour the broth into large zip lock bags. The meat and bones should be left at the bottom of the pot. If you care, take out the bones, if not, leave them in but chew carefully. Add the meat into the bags, let the air out by slowly laying them sideways and zip. Then clear out a space in your freezer to lay them flat. They will freeze into flat blocks of chicken soup that are easily broken when hit with a hammer (or slammed on the counter) so you can make a smaller portion or reheat in a small pot. To make it better, throw some vegetables in when reheating or add wild rice or dumplings.
Makes about 1 gallon of soup, but I like to divide into 4 bags.
3/4c pancake mix
mix until a thick foamy batter and drop 1 Tbsp sized spoonfuls into boiling/simmering chicken soup. Cover and cook for 5min.
Chicken Pot Pie
2 chicken quarters
1can cream of mushroom soup (cream of celery and chicken also work)
1pkg frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, carrots, etc.)
1c pancake mix
Preheat oven to 400F. Take the leg quarters, remove the bones, and shred the meat. Place the meat in a 9″ square cake pan or 9″round pie dish and cover with cream of mushroom soup and mixed vegetables. Stir until evenly mixed. In a separate container, combine the pancake mix, milk, and egg and stir until a homogeneous batter. Pour the batter into the casserole dish over the chicken and vegetables. Place in the oven and bake for 30min or until golden-brown.
1 chicken breast (chilled)
2 slices bread
horseradish-mayo to taste
Slice the chicken breast thinly and place on the bread topped with the horseradish sauce. I realize that horseradish isn’t as popular elsewhere as it is in Missouri, so a good substitute is just normal mayonnaise with a bit of seasoned-salt.