Sunday, March 14, 2010

the cost of cooking

College is expensive. I can empathize with money problems more than most. I have three jobs just to keep up with my expenses. Groceries can be a huge expense, but we all have to eat.

In a survey of 40 Ohio University students I took (yes, I used Facebook), I found that the average amount spent on groceries is about 25 dollars a week. That's 100 dollars a month, and 900 for the school year. Just thinking about that makes my head spin. It adds up quickly. But there are several things that can be done to help save money.

This one may be obvious, but the easiest way to save money on food is to not eat out as much. Paying 10 dollars for a meal is ridiculous. Not to mention the two dollars you're paying for a soda. It's unbelievable. Cooking your own food will save you a ton of money. After spending the quarter with me learning to cook a few a few meals, Alli J is hooked. "It's not too hard to cook a few times a week and eat the leftovers," she said. "It's saved me some money and I still get to eat good food."

Make a list
The most important thing about making that list is to actually stick to it. Don't venture away from your list. A lot of times I go to the store for a few things and end up getting a lot more than I had anticipated. This kills the budget. Also, never EVER shop when you're hungry. It always turns out disastrous. Everything in the store looks good when you're hungry.

Look for a sale
There are always sales going on. Kroger does a lot of great 10 for $10 sales. But look around elsewhere, too. There are plenty of stores around Athens to check out, so take a look around and figure out which stores have the best sales. Senior Brett Strickland shops at ALDI. "They always have cheap stuff," Strickland said. "It's really nice to save a little bit of money."

Go generic
Sometimes generic brands suck. But usually, they offer the same value product for a couple dollars cheaper. Saving a couple dollars on several items on your shopping list will really add up.

Look at the top and bottom of the shelf
This is one of the many tricky little things stores to do. The "nicer," more expensive product will be found at waist to eye level on the shelf. The less expensive items will be located at the top and bottom of the shelf. Tricky, I know.

Cut Coupons

Coupons are easy to find, so why wouldn't you use them? Pick up a copy of the Athens Messenger on Sunday and get coupons for local stores. Junior Brittany Brunty cuts coupons every week to keep her costs down. "You'd be surprised at how much cutting coupons really helps," she said. "I usually save 10 to 15 dollars each time I go to the store."

WLWT did a story about grocery shopping on a budget. They targeted women for this story but I believe it applies to anyone looking to save some money on food.

Eating on a college student's budget can be hard. It takes a little more work but it is definitely manageable with these tips in mind.

Have fun and good luck.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

take a break for breakfast

You've probably heard that breakfast is important. It's probably the most important meal of the day but is the most commonly skipped meal. This is problematic. Here are a few reasons breakfast should never be skipped.

Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and gives you energy for the day ahead
According to the Better Health Channel, "Glucose is the body’s energy source. It is broken down and absorbed from the carbohydrates you eat. In the morning, after you have gone without food for as long as 12 hours, your glucose levels have dropped. Your body compensates by releasing the glucose that has been stored in your muscle tissue and liver, called glycogen. Once all of the energy from the glycogen stores is used up, your body starts to break down fatty acids to produce the energy it needs. Without carbohydrate, fatty acids are only partially oxidised, which can cause reduced energy levels." So, when you skip breakfast, you are not getting the energy boost your body needs to function.

People who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight
This totally crushes the myth that skipping breakfast can help you lose weight. In fact, studies have shown that people who skip breakfast are heavier than people who eat breakfast. This happens because by the time the person that skipped breakfast makes it to lunch, they are starving and tend to overeat or have a mid-morning snack. Eating a healthy breakfast is a much better plan.

Breakfast provides nutrients essential to your diet
Even a nice, sugary bowl of Lucky Charms has a significant amount of iron in it, among other nutrients. Breakfast provides a variety of vitamins and minerals that are important for your stable health.

People often skip breakfast because they just don't have time or don't think it's important. Well I've hopefully convinced you that it is important, and taking an extra five minutes in the morning to eat a bowl of cereal is not a difficult task. Make time.

Have fun and good luck.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

love your leftovers

As a college student, I am on a tight budget. In fact, I currently have three jobs just to keep up with my bills. Money is a large factor in any of the decisions that I make. Food is expensive. Trying to cook on a budget can be very difficult. One of the best ways I have found to cut costs is to make use of leftovers. Sometimes eating the same thing can be fine, but more often than not, I would rather not repeat my meals. Below I've listed a few ideas to spice up your leftover life.

  1. Make Pot Pie: I love Pot Pie and never would have thought to do this if I didn't stumble upon this recipe. It's easy and I'm willing to bet it tastes good, and that's all that matters, right?
  2. Stir in chopped ham or a can of chili to your leftover Macaroni and Cheese (which you know you have frequently. It's ok, you're a college kid). It may sound gross right now, but give this a chance. It definitely puts a new spin on your typical leftover Macaroni and Cheese.
  3. Make grilled sandwiches or Monte Cristo Sandwiches with leftover meats. This is a simple way to use the meat that's drying up in your refrigerator.
  4. Check out the BigOven Leftover Wizard. This is pretty cool. You tell the wizard three ingredients that are in your refrigerator and it gives you a recipe using the food you already have. This can be a lifesaver.
There are a ton of different ideas out there to use and abuse the leftovers that are undoubtedly around your house. For a student on a budget, there is no excuse not to use your leftovers. What is your favorite thing to do with leftovers?

Have fun and good luck.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

homemade chicken noodle soup

I'm still working on getting over a cold this week, so I decided to make some chicken noodle soup. As I said, it's my comfort food. At least it is when I'm sick. I got this recipe from a friend's mom and would like to thank her because it doesn't get much easier than this.

I thought I'd try something a little different with this recipe since it is so easy. I kept track of what was happening throughout my experience making the soup.

9:10 - Filled large pot with the 10 cups of water and placed it on the burner.

9:11 - Placed chicken breast in the water.

9:22 - Jersey wants in on the cooking action. He tackled me, knocking over the jar of chicken bouillon cubs.

9:25 - Got our mess cleaned up. Thanks, Jersey.

9:31 - Water is finally starting to boil.

9:36 - Jersey must have had enough playing. He is passed out under the kitchen table.

9:43 - Pulled the chicken breast out of the water. Attempted to start cutting the chicken and burnt my finger. It's hot.

9:45 - Dropped the chicken bouillon cubes in the boiling water.

9:46 - Finished cutting the chicken breast.

9:47 - Dropped cut up chicken in water with chicken bouillon cubes. Added noodles.

9:51 - The scent of chicken has taken over my kitchen and woken Jersey up. He's hungry.

9:55 - Soup is ready to be consumed. Let the healing begin.

Here's what you need:

10 cups of water
7 cubes of Chicken Bouillon
1 Chicken breast

Have fun and good luck.

Monday, March 1, 2010

give me pizza. p-i-z-z-a.

Cooking all the time never happens. We all need a break. Pizza is one of my favorite things to buy because it's fast and usually tastes good. Usually. Athens has several different places to try. I've highlighted a few of my favorite spots around town.

View Athens' Best Pizza Joints in a larger map

Have fun and good luck.