Monday, December 22, 2014

Cooking for One: Broke College Student Edition

Hey y'all!

I just want to start out by saying I'm so sorry it has been so long since I have was a crazy crazy semester! I can't believe it is over already, but I am so relieved that it is!! This semester brought up lots of new and exciting adventures. One of which was living in my very first apartment with these lovely ladies.

As we all know, a major part of living on your own means cooking and grocery shopping for yourself. I didn't think there would be too much to it, but when you are constantly on the go it can be so tempting to just pick something up from a fast food restaurant on the way home! I am going to give you my tips for grocery shopping and cooking for one that I've learned in these first few months!

RULE #1: It all starts at the grocery store.  Whether you shop at Meijer, Walmart, Aldi's or wherever at---there are coupons and aisles to avoid at every store.

MY RULE: I try to spend less than $50 for 10-14 days worth of groceries.

Whenever I go grocery shopping I start at the back of the store and work my way up. I know that many studies say to start in the produce section so that you will buy more produce---however, when I am cooking for myself...I often do not eat all of my produce before it goes bad so I usually go at the end and buy 1 or 2 different fruits and whatever vegetables I want for pasta or snacks.

I usually skip about half of the grocery store. Why do you ask? Well, my apartment holds 5 girls, which means 5 girls share one little freezer so I never really buy frozen dinners due to limited space. I also skip the cookie/chip aisles because if I don't walk by it, I won't buy it, which means I won't eat it. Simple as that.

Some things that I often buy: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, eggs, fat free skim milk, fortified orange juice, cottage cheese, nonfat greek yogurt, low fat cheese, progresso soup, nature valley granola bars, carrot sticks, apples, bananas, strawberries, spinach, lettuce, chicken breast, green peppers, sweet potatoes, potatoes.


Honesty time: I stay in bed probably 20-30 minutes after my's a problem.

So when I am in a rush I will usually make a PB&J with chunky peanut butter, strawberry preserves (or just real strawberries) and toasted whole wheat bread.

If I have a little extra time, I will make a parfait with nonfat greek vanilla yogurt (DO NOT---I REPEAT DO NOT BUY PLAIN GREEK YOGURT FOR THIS---YOU WILL GET A MOUTH FULL OF SOMETHING THAT TASTES LIKE SOUR CREAM AND STRAWBERRIES AND THAT IS JUST NOT OK), strawberries or whatever other fruit I have on hand, and about a tablespoon of granola.

If I am going to work or know that I won't be able to eat for a long time, I usually will have 2 eggs with 2 pieces of whole wheat toast and some OJ.

All of these are super cheap (probably under $1.25 each) and easy to make.


I am a huge fan of CASSEROLES and LEFTOVERS. They just make life so much easier and they are cheap!

Simple Recipes I have used:
  • Baked Potato: Bake at 375 for 60 minutes (I like them really soft), and add plain low fat Greek yogurt or low fat sour cream and salsa.
  • Sweet Potato: Microwave for 5 minutes (remember to poke holes in it before!) and add minimal butter and brown sugar for taste.
  • Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas: I make this on my awesome George Foreman grill. I take a whole wheat tortilla and put cheese, grilled chicken, peppers, and a little bit of Kraft's Chipotle Mayo.
  • Chicken "Fried" Rice: Grilled chicken, peas, carrots, broccoli, brown rice, and any type of Asian sauce found at grocery store.
  • And my random renditions of casseroles featuring whole wheat pasta, veggies and any sauce I can find...they usually are really random and made from whatever is left in my kitchen!!

Extra Tips:
  • I use M-Perks through Meijer for additional discounts on food.
  • I can never eat a whole bag of carrot sticks before they go bad so sometimes I just steam them and put them in with whatever I'm eating!
  • Cut up all of your produce into ready-to-eat/ ready-to-go portions the day you get them. This will encourage you to eat them more if they are ready to eat already!
  • Happy Hours are great for cheap college kids as well, there's a little pizza place near where I live and it's literally $2 a person---not a bad deal for a night out!
  • Make nicer dinners for more than you can eat, you will have 3-4 meals done in one cooking session---the casseroles like I described before can be made to be about 50-75 cents per serving!
  • If you crave chocolate all time like I do: get ONE thing with chocolate that is not easily accessible (like a bag of cookies)--sometimes I like special K with chocolate and strawberries because it is still somewhat healthy and fixes my cravings.
Comment with any other tips you have!

Thanks for Reading! :)