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Monday, May 17, 2010

Anticipate Your Needs: Frugal College Cooking

You may wonder, dear readers, why I am writing on this topic when college students are on their way home. Frugal types know why: because a cornerstone of frugal living is to anticipate your needs. A while back I wrote about getting my son an entire prom outfit for less than $20.00. That is because I started a year in advance and picked up elements of the ensemble as I saw them. Low stress.

I like this kind of planning and amassing anyway. Lucy Marmalade is in Alabama participating in a 3 week service project. And I am doing a service project here--for dear Lucy and, I hope, her suite mates.

Yesterday, I wrote about acquiring a cheap rice cooker as a key piece of equipment.

Today, I will reveal what's in Lucy's pantry (aka her closet). All will be used before the expiration dates, by the way.

15 cans of black-eyed peas. Oh, how Lucy loves beans. I got these last New Year's when they were on sale for 3/$1.00. Make some rice in your rice cooker. Drain the beans and mix 'em in. Add a can of spicy tomatoes. Top with cheese.

To that end, I also acquired 15 cans of rotel-type tomatoes when they were on sale for 50 cents a can.

Why the magic number of 15? Because there are 14-16 weeks in a semester.

So, with these two items, Lucy has the base for 15 meals of several servings each. She can either eat it all by herself or share with her suite mates.

The practice outlined above--stockpiling when on sale--is a classic frugal technique. Interestingly, The Grocery Game--a coupon/sale business--now has replaced the term stockpiling with the term investing.

Any other ideas for the stockpile, errrr, I mean the investment portfolio?


Shelley said...

I don't know how applicable for students, but I also stockpile/invest in tins of tuna and salmon, pineapple, peaches and fruit cocktail, jars of honey & half-sugar marmalade, bags of flour, sugar & cornmeal, bread-making yeast. Also dried beans and rice. That is as far as the pantry portion of the portfolio. We diversify further in the garden and the freezer. It's no joke, mind, that when the price of salmon doubled last year, I did feel as though I had a savings account in the cupboard! Confess that when it comes to tinned food, I'm not too fussed about dates as long as the tin is is good condition...

Chance said...

Can you or one of your talented children please write a dorm room cookbook, with pictures. Please. The rice cooker plus blender notion, the excellent recipe you just gave, a minimum "kit" and pantry to take to your first freshman year, all would be helpful. Kids trying to save money on their food plans are just eating ramen, very bad for you. Anyway, this is a very entertaining series of posts. She is really lucky to have you for a mom.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff said...

In college, I was a happy camper with Bowl Appetites since they were microwaveable. I stockpiled canned tuna as well since that could turn into a salad topping or a sandwich...

Duchesse said...

Make friends with students who work in restaurants. my entire 2 yrs of grad school breakfasts were supplied free by a GF who worked @ Baskin Robbins: three scoops of chocolate almond. Could not do it now but then, divine. Also had friend at major sandwich shop chain. If they are throwing it out, it can come your way.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley--I love how you develop the metaphor. It works!
@Chance--You are so nice. That would be a dream come true. Any agents reading?
@Budgeting--Tuna is on the list.
@Duchesse--What a great idea!

Funny about Money said...

Like Shelley, I'm also attached to canned salmon and tuna. My mother used to stock in kipper snacks, which are SO GOOD shmushed gently with the juice of half a lemon and spread over crackers. Perfect dorm food.

In the beans department, I tend to prefer canned great white northerns, which these days are getting harder to find. Black-eyed peas tend to be overcooked by the time they reach a can. White beans are great in salads. Also, I like to drain and rinse them. While they're sitting in the colander draining well, heat some olive oil and add minced garlic. Stir in the beans and add fresh or dried herbs. Squeeze lemon over the top. Add salt & pepper to taste. Yum!

Chance said...

I got my doctorate on kipper snacks and high qual canned salmon. Love it.