Eating In and Saving Money
WORDS BY: ALEJANDRA GARCIA
PHOTOS BY: EDWARD SINGLETON
Most millennials nowadays can’t even boil an egg, but there’s always take-out right? There’s endless possibilities eating take-out, but maybe it’s not the best option since there are so many other things to consider while eating out.
Is it healthy? How much money can I spend this week? Do I even have money in the bank? All those little things add up. Cooking is not as bad is it seems, so relax and take a deep breath. There’s a way to take control of food and managing money.
Meal preps have a reputation of being boring and a drag to make. The same to-go meal always seems to be rice, broccoli and chicken. But this is an opportunity to have fun with food — yeah, fun!
Cooking isn’t just for Generation X, and, maybe when you get comfortable with the idea, you might throw dinner parties instead of lame kick-backs with chips and beer. We’re all here to learn something new.
There are people out there that prepare their food in advance for a busy week. Many college students, especially the ones who live out on their own, tend to have a full schedule.
School, work, studying, going to the gym — it’s a never ending list of to-dos. So, having a meal ready will always save money and time.
Step 1: Grocery shopping can seem daunting at first, but Maya Cox, president of CSULB’s Student Dietetic Association, shared some tips in navigating the store.
It all starts with your pantry.
“(A pantry) makes each trip to the grocery store less daunting,” Cox said. “It doesn't have to be elaborate, and understand it takes time to build one. There is no need to go spending all of your money on something you think you should have but have never used.”
Cox said some essential items include olive oil, basic herbs and spices and grains. Plenty of ingredients that you can find at the grocery store are inexpensive. Dry goods like rice and beans are always a must because of their long shelf life.
After stocking up, weekly shopping is easier. Visiting your local farmer’s market is always a good idea. You can pick out vegetables and fruits that are in season, and you’d also be supporting local farmers.
If you’re on a tight budget, there’s always a good variety of vegetables at the 99 Cents Only Store.
Step 2: Planning meals ahead is always important. Cox suggests making lists and schedules ahead of time. CSULB students also chimed in on their experience and tips of their own.
Adulting can be hard to do, as they say, but spanish major Dinora Rivera prepares her week by setting a day especially for errands. Setting time aside is a must during a hectic schedule, she said.
“It’s all about trial and error,” said Rivera, who added that it took time to get a routine in place, but help from her roommates made it easier.
When planning ahead, use Google and Pinterest to find healthy and delicious recipes.
Cox suggests penciling in recipes on your calendar, as if you’re studying for a test. Shopping becomes easier when you shop for the items you need, and, if you’re cooking for yourself, make the whole serving count to have food for the rest of the week.
Step 3: Don’t be afraid of the Crock-Pot!
“A life saver is the Crock-Pot,” Rosana Anguiano, fine arts major, said. “It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever bought… especially when you’re at school all day — you can make a soup and add whatever and let it sit on low for eight hours, and, when you come back, you’ll have food, and you don’t have to stress out about cooking because you just want to eat.”
Anguiano also mentioned freezer meals, which are simple ingredients that you can put in a resealable plastic bag. Each bag is frozen. Then, you can take that freezer meal and cook it in a slow cooker while you’re at school.
Slow cookers are affordable, and it’s another handy item to have in the kitchen besides having the basic pantry necessities.
Step 4: Take turns cooking.
“If you live with roommates, take turns preparing dinners so it’s not always you who has to cook,” said Rivera, adding that she rotates cooking duties with her own roommate, who makes plenty of Asian dishes. “Don’t be afraid to try new foods. Before, I didn’t eat eggs, and it’s in a lot of Asian foods.”
Free nutrition counseling is available at the Health Resource Center and Beach Balance in the Student Recreation & Wellness Center. Nutrition counselors will help answer general nutrition questions and set healthy goals. To set an appointment, visit asirecreation.org.