My Most Reliable Meals On A College Budget (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

I’m in college, and never have I once eaten Ramen noodles for dinner (Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese, though, is another story . . .).

I cook most of my meals, and I’ve learned a thing or two about saving major bucks without sacrificing taste and health. Here are seven of my go-to lunches and dinners, super easy, quick and satisfying every time.

Carrot, pepper and sweet potato hash with fried eggs

A bag of shredded carrots and a couple of bell peppers and sweet potatoes will last you a few days, and eggs are the perfect source of protein on the cheap. Sautee the veggies in olive oil and your favorite seasoning on medium to high heat. When they’re about ready, fry a couple of eggs to your liking, and plate them on top of the veggies. Your meal will be so colorful, you’ll forget you’re eating on a budget. Bonus points if you puncture the egg yolk aaall over the hash.

Open-faced panini with a side of fruit or veggies

At lunchtime, I crave sandwiches. Making my own saves a lot of dough, in both senses of the word. I usually put one piece of whole wheat bread in the toaster. While it’s getting crispy, I stick some sliced turkey breast (which you could totally buy at the butcher for a fraction of the cost of the packaged stuff) and a slice of cheese (usually havarti) in the microwave so the meat is heated through and the cheese is just beginning to melt. I spread some mustard on the toast, add the meat and cheese and call it a day. I’ll add a couple of slices of tomato and avocado if I have them on hand. Add some fruit or carrots to your plate, and it’s meal that can kick Subway’s butt.

Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, chicken, spinach and mushrooms

Pasta is always cheap, and a few modifications can make it more nutritious. I try to grab whole wheat pasta, but today’s options include everything from chickpea-based pasta to brown-rice pasta. While your noodles, whatever they’re made of, are boiling, sautee spinach and mushrooms with garlic — and your choice of protein, like chicken or bacon — and add tomato sauce when they’re cooked. Throw the mix over the pasta, and consider your meal balanced.

Cauliflower fried rice with chicken

Do yourself a favor and stock up on Trader Joe’s frozen riced cauliflower, and it will come to your rescue like a valiant knight oh so many times. There are endless ways to jazz up this staple, but my most frequent one involves more veggies, chicken and soy sauce. I usually sautee the cauliflower with all TJ’s products, actually: the Healthy 8 Veggie Mix, Soyaki Sauce and either frozen or fresh chicken breast. So cheap, so delicious.

Trader Joe’s Turkey Burgers

These babies are $3 for a pack of four, and damn are they tasty. Juicy and just 180 calories each for a nice slab of protein, they are my savior. I’ve been known to crumble them up and throw them in a pile of veggies so each bite of vegetable is rescued by the far superior flavor of turkey.

Eggplant parmesan

There are few recipes for which I’m willing to turn on the oven, and this is one of them. You’ll likely have tomato sauce and eggs in the fridge. Next time you’re at the store, just pick up an eggplant and a can of breadcrumbs, and you’ll be ready to rock and roll — er, lock and layer? Eggplant parm has all the fun and deliciousness of lasagna, but it’s far healthier and involves far less work. Enjoy the leftovers for a week.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Tags: budget cooking, cheap, college, easy dinners, recipes
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Legendary College Students Fix Huge Vending Machine Jam (Video)

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By Cooking Panda

On their way to class, a group of students at Rutgers University noticed something unusual about a vending machine. Little did they know, it would change the trajectory of their entire day (video below).

When the students saw that there were a few bags of chips stuck in the machine, what started off as an ordinary morning quickly turned into a masterclass on the proper way to gamble on a jammed vending machine.

At the start of the video, the students buy one bag of chips above the jam to try and free the bag buildup, but they end up contributing to the pile. Soon, they realize that the machine registers the transaction as not vending and lets them make another selection any time that a food package does not fall to the bottom. So they build up the pile until there are nine bags of chips stuck. Eventually, our heroes end up shaking the machine until all the bags come free, and they score a massive haul using only a few dollars.

We are ecstatic that the valiant vending machine warriors ended up getting a ton of snacks, and we learned one approach to scoring big when you see a bunch of food stuck in the machine.

If you are in a similar situation and you don’t feel comfortable carefully shaking or thumping the machine, try pushing in the flap where you reach to collect your food and letting it snap shut – this will create a rush of air that can sometimes give your snack the push it needs to topple over.

If you try this a few times and it still isn’t working, you might want to call for help or a refund. Most vending machines have a contact number on the side that you can dial to report a stuck item and get a refund or get in touch with someone who can open it up and retrieve your snack for you.

Sources: MrTriplzzz/YouTube, WikiHow / Photo credit: MrTriplzzz/YouTube

Tags: college, how to fix vending machine jam, vending machine, vending machine stuck, video
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