College Cooking on a Budget

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College Cooking on a Budget
Hear about low-budget recipes.





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Going to college is not just about deciding what your major will be or which classes you will take. The experience of living on your own, and all the wisdom you gain from that experience, is perhaps even more important and valuable for the rest of your life. Learning how to manage your own money, how to operate the washing machine and what to do when your roommate leaves a pile of dirty dishes in the sink are all important steps to becoming self-sufficient.

Another crucial learning experience occurs when you realize you have just eaten spaghetti with Ragu marinara and dry chicken for the fourth day in a row. At this point, Top Ramen has never looked more appetizing. If you have ever considered yourself a gourmet for serving "your famous omelette with Velveeta cheese" think again. Trying to impress that cute guy or girl with your cooking skills? That isn't going to cut it. If you feel that we are describing your life, don't get too upset. Cooking well for somebody-or for yourself, for that matter-is not as hard as it seems.

As Berkeley students, we understand the urge to constantly be doing something. What to cook for dinner tonight is probably the last thing on your mind as you walk across campus balancing your third coffee of the day and scrambling to finish your Poli Sci 2 reading. While a five-course dinner could require hours of work, a simple meal for yourself and a friend need not necessitate excessive sacrifice.

In fact, the opposite is true. Taking a few minutes to slow down and enjoy a good meal will probably make you more efficient at whatever you have to do. Good food and a short break from studying can provide much-needed energy while allowing you to refocus on your work. Furthermore, it takes just a few minutes to make the difference between a boring, tasteless meal and something more nourishing and invigorating.

On to the money issue. As college students, foie gras and truffles (no, not the chocolate kind look it up if you're confused) probably aren't going to fit into your budget. Shopping only at the farmer's market is also unrealistic. However, that doesn't mean you'll be forced to survive on dollar noodles alone. And in terms of your grocery shopping, it doesn't mean that you have to stock up on frozen taquitos from Safeway.

In fact, if you learn how to navigate markets like the renowned Berkeley Bowl, you can actually spend less money and make better food than you would have if you had shopped at a "cheaper" store. Berkeley Bowl's produce section is one of the largest and most varied in the country, and its bulk aisles are enormous and well stocked-both areas are lifesavers for college kids.

For this week's column, we set out to create a delicious meal for two, limiting ourselves to a $5 budget. And, to tell you the truth, it was easy-we do it all the time. Continuously finding ourselves in the black, we kept adding ingredients (and even a salad!) in an attempt to come close to our $5 spending cap. Below you'll find our receipt and you can watch our audio-slideshow documenting the preparation of our meal. Check it out, maybe you'll want to make it next week. Better yet, maybe you'll be inspired and want to create your own $5 meal-for two, of course.

Our Receipt:

$ 0.29 Garlic

$ 1.65 Heavy cream

$ 0.45 Spinach fettuccini

$ 1.40 Linguica sausage

$ 0.41 Mixed greens

$ 0.19 Lemon

TOTAL: $ 4.39

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For more $5 recipe ideas, e-mail Graham and Maria at [email protected]



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