Maximize Your Microwave and Coffeepot Being a freshman is all about the art of making-do, of getting by, of realizing that the seductive brochure did its job and lied to you. The dining halls have awful hours, strange locations, and think that clams are fair game for cafeteria food. You need to get your money's worth, but three trips to the salad bar becomes unpalatable after about two weeks. You'll start to hate the lettuce and the crackers, notice the imperfections in the fruit, and wonder how the scrambled eggs got gray on the bottom. A meltdown is foreseeable, and you might resort to a coping period of eating out in order to feel human again. But this'll only last about three days before your mom sends you a screenshot of your debit card activity and you walk of shame your ass back to heat lamps spotlighting frozen pizza, like a moth to a flame. You need to learn your place and embrace the experience of balancing the paid-for options with the economical ones you can fix for yourself.
Mac and Cheese in a Mug Sit down Easy-Mac, you're on your way out. Why would I settle for your cheese-packet crustiness when I can have the real thing in a perfectly sized portion for after my late-afternoon cry? Just like its stovetop big mama, this recipe uses raw elbow noodles. How you prepare this twee little mug of pasta depends on the size of your container, but generally you want to use equal parts pasta and water (or milk if you're feeling creamy). Generally, it looks like a half-cup of dry noodles to a half-cup of water, although some like to add a little more liquid out of caution, say a third of a cup, to really do the trick. After a few tries, you should be able to perfect the ratio so that the noodles absorb all the available liquid and are cooked just enough, with no drainage or anything. To cook the pasta, microwave for two minutes, stir, and microwave again for two minutes. Putting a saucer under your mug is recommended to catch some of the overflow when the macaroni starts to boil. If there's any excess liquid (hopefully not), pour it out. Add a few splashes (collegiate teaspoons) of milk if you've got it, and mix in finely shredded cheddar to your preference of cheesiness. Microwave again for a minute on high and you'll be good to go.
Salmon and Veggies in a Coffeemaker It's about to get hella gourmet up in here, using nothing more than your crusty old coffeemaker. The people who got Keurigs and started gloating about their watery-ass coffee that comes from printer ink cartridges won't have the last laugh now. After you're done rinsing the crust out off your coffeepot, you're ready to cook an entree and a side using only one appliance. To steam vegetables (I recommend broccoli or carrots but really anything steamable will do), add them to the coffee basket until they fill up roughly half the space. Add all the water that will fit into the coffeemaker's reservoir and then turn on the machine and let the water run through, stopping about halfway through to turn over the vegetables before restarting the cycle. After the first cycle is done, add the salmon to the water in the pitcher with some soy sauce, teriyaki, or other seasoning of choice on the top of the filet. Add more water and run a second cycle to make sure that the vegetables are completely tender, and make sure the burner under the coffee carafe is on to warm the water while the salmon poaches. The vegetables should be done after the second cycle, while the salmon should take about eight minutes before it starts to get flaky. The fish may look a little different than it would had you grilled it, but it should be done. Dump out the water, remove the vegetables and your water-cooked filet, and escort yourself to Flavortown because this meal is done.
Eggs in a Nest in the Microwave This one's so cute and easy you'll forget how excited you were when you learned you can actually make eggs in the microwave. Also (incorrectly) called a toad in the hole by some deviants, this dish only requires two ingredients: an egg and a piece of toast for it to roost in. Simply use a small knife or any cookie cutter-type instrument (the bottom of a cup will do marvelously) to cut a small circle out of the center of the piece of bread. Place the cut-out bread on a plate, crack an egg in the middle, and throw it in the microwave. Cook it on high for at least a minute, and then for 30 second intervals to preference, depending on your yolk tolerance. Add some salt and pepper on top, or cheese if you're feeling frisky, and pop that sucker in your mouth.
Broccoli Cheddar Ramen Tired of subsisting solely on the shrimp ramen left over from your roommate's bulk order? Upgrade your Maruchan and make your jail cell of a dorm room smell like a damn Panera Bread. All it takes is a little Rice-a-Roni seasoning to spice things up like a 20-year marriage. All you've gotta do is buy the broccoli cheddar flavor (or whatever flavor packet feels like it will fill that emptiness inside you) and toss out the accompanying rice mix, unless you're down to eat some unflavored grain down the line. Microwave the ramen in a bowl of water for 3-4 minutes, stir, and add in two packets of the cheesy powder to pimp your noodles out. Stir well and let sit for a few minutes.
Overnight Oatmeal Bring your own beautifully healthy picnic to Monday morning lecture and be the envy of you hungover peers. To make this mason jar treat (or Tupperware delight), simply mix equal parts of raw oats (Quaker'll do), milk and Greek yogurt and mix them up. If you feel your inner Barefoot Contessa shining through, add some coconut shavings, berries, peanut butter or honey. If your receptacle has a cover, use it. If not, some plastic wrap will do. Leave it in the fridge for eight hours or as long as you can manage to close your eyes, and the oats should be cute and fluffy when you grab them before sprinting to class.
Supermarket Smarts Once you've made the plunge and moved off campus and left the meal plan, you'll really be smacked in the face with adulthood. Gone are the fun days of dormitory science experiments and trying to replicate Buzzfeed Tasty videos while having zero of the necessary appliances. You've reached that point in your life where the budgeting really kicks in. You need to face your fears for once in your life and stop deflecting blame like your therapist always says you do. So stick with us and our tips for survival and you'll be living it up like a real Bear Grylls minus the camera crew feeding him burgers when he's hungry. They might seem petty, but the dollars and cents can add up to a sexy sum of boxed wine cash.
Plan What You Need It's painfully obvious but it'll save you from accidentally buying something you already have. Taking stock of your cupboards and the quantities of everything you have can help you start to shop smarter and will influence a lot of the other thrifty habits you can form.
Scavenge Through Your Pantry for Things about to Expire And just like that, this list of tips starts to build off of itself. Wow. When you make your shopping lists, look through your fridge and pantry to see not only what you need more of, but what you haven't used. Most people throw away nearly a quarter of their groceries, so check on those ticking timebombs like produce, yogurt and bread. Whip them all out and MacGyver yourself a meal that would make your Meemaw proud.
Limit Shopping Trips And again! After trying out our first two tips you'll start to see how fast your house goes through basics like milk, toilet paper and kelp gelatin. Once you've seen what kinda timeline you and your housemates are dealing with, you can start to limit your trips to a weekly basis, so that you can avoid waste and buying shit you know you're just gonna let rot.
Check Your for Receipt for Substitutes and Cheaper Prices at Other Stores It might make you feel like a tight-ass, but diagnosing your destructive spending is one of the most helpful things you can do. You don't need that much dragonfruit, and you should probably put back all of that zebra meat. Take a look at your last receipt and pinpoint what items you spend the most on. Do a quick search of some other stores nearby and see if their prices could treat you better. And when in doubt, go store brand.
Check Yourself Out In the same vein of consumer consciousness, checking yourself out at the grocery store makes you focus on exactly what you're bagging up to take home, with every barcode draining your pocket before your very eyes. Studies show that self-checkout lanes are one of the best ways to limit impulse spending, since there's no black box effect of a cashier in the way.
Points Club Rewards I hate having too much shit in my wallet just as much as any avid skinny jeans-wearer, but signing up for frequent shopper programs can save your destitute ass. Places like Walgreens and H-E-B have point systems to get store credit to use on future trips. Swallow your pride and accept the plastic. Plus, a buncha places do it digitally now.