Though the relentless rise in the cost of college has slowed down a bit, getting a bachelor’s is still far more expensive than it was a decade ago: The price index for tuition went up by almost 80% between 2003 and 2013—more than double the growth of the overall consumer price index during that timeframe, according to U.S. News.
As a business major, you don’t want to set a bad example by relying on prepared food, do you? Making your own meals is way more economical. Even if you’re a freshman, you might want to shake up the dining hall defective-pizza-and-french-fries routine for the sake of your health. (True story: My alma mater once served up chicken salad pizza. Blegh.)
Luckily, there’s an entire section of the blogosphere dedicated to helping the broke and the busy eat well. Some of the blogs below focus on health more than others, but the recipes are all pretty cheap—and a few of them are possible to execute while sleep-deprived and/or drunk.
Beth Moncel started Budget Bytes after earning a degree in nutritional science. In the process of studying, she spent “considerable time learning how to create healthy meals on low-income budgets,” she wrote in The Billfold. Using her expertise, she set a goal for herself: eating on less than $6 per day. Her experiment went even better than she’d anticipated: “At work, my delicious home-cooked lunches started to make my coworkers jealous,” she wrote. “While they ate soggy submarine sandwiches, I indulged in stir-fried ginger beef and fragrant jasmine rice. The ooohs and ahhs that erupted as I heated my homemade lunches let me know that I was onto something.” That’s how her blog was born. The economy had just tanked and the recipes were tasty; the blog got so popular that Moncel published a cookbook. Fortunately, you can still get plenty of her recipes for free.
Example Recipe: Dragon Noodles
4 oz. lo mein noodles $1.13
2 Tbsp butter $0.20
¼ tsp crushed red pepper $0.02
1 large egg $0.25
1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.02
1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.02
1 Tbsp sriracha (rooster sauce) $0.08
1 handful fresh cilantro $0.22
1 sliced green onion $0.06
Begin to boil water for the noodles. Once the water reaches a full boil, add the noodles and cook according to the package directions (boil for 5-7 minutes).
While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl stir together the brown sugar, soy sauce, and sriracha.
In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the red pepper to the butter as it melts. Whisk an egg in a bowl and then add to the melted butter. Stir gently and cook through. Once the egg is done cooking, turn off the heat.
When the noodles are tender, drain the water and then add them to the skillet with the cooked egg. Also add the prepared sauce. Turn the heat on to low to evaporate excess moisture, and stir until everything is coated well with the sauce. Sprinkle the sliced green and cilantro leaves (whole) on top and serve!