Living on my own for the first time, I, like many others, have experimented with food. I tried a food delivery service called Blue Apron, which delivers ingredients to your door, which is great and all, but $60 a week is not exactly college-kid-friendly.
So for the most part, I fed myself and avoided fast food as much as I could, and these are some of the recipes I made at least weekly. All prices are estimated based on Kroger brand prices.
Mini Pizza Muffins
This recipe really requires two recipes: one for the pizzas themselves, and one for the sauce that goes on the pizza. You can buy a jar of pizza sauce, but I’ve found that in the long run, it is far more affordable (and fun) to just throw the ingredients together. All you need to make the sauce is 8oz of tomato sauce ($0.33), a teaspoon of garlic powder ($1-$2), and a teaspoon of oregano ($1-$3). Eight ounces of this sauce is good for 20 mini pizzas.
•4 oz pizza sauce
•Garlic butter (mix garlic powder and melted butter) (optional)
•Shredded mozzarella cheese ($3)
•Biscuits ($2 for 4 cans)
•Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, or to whatever temperature your can of biscuits calls for. Butter a muffin tin.
•Place one biscuit in each buttered cup of the muffin tin. Using the bottom of a small cup, or some other small round thing, create a small depression in the center of each biscuit to create a small crust around the center of the biscuit.
•Using a small brush, apply your garlic butter on the crusts of each biscuit.
•Use a spoon to portion a spoonful of pizza sauce on each biscuit.
•Place cheese and optional toppings on top of sauce.
•When the oven is preheated, put the pizzas in for 15 minutes.
Total price: $10.33, and most of the items to make the pizzas will last you a while, especially the spices.
•More biscuits (still $2 for 4 cans)
•Oil of some sort (I use pure olive oil) ($2.49)
•Cinnamon sugar mix (less than $3) (just mix 1.5 parts sugar to one part cinnamon)
•On a cutting board, gently spread the biscuits to make them larger, flatter circles. Poke out the center.
•In a deep-dish skillet, cover the bottom with oil. Bring to a medium-high heat.
•When the pan is hot enough, place the biscuits two at a time in the pan. They cook really quickly, no longer than 60 seconds on each side. The longer you cook, the hotter the oil will get, so the faster the doughnuts will cook.
•In a bowl, have your cinnamon sugar mix. One doughnut at a time, place them in the bowl and coat with the cinnamon sugar. Do this for each doughnut until they are completely covered. Save your leftover cinnamon sugar in a sealable jar.
Total price: Less than $8, but again, the oil and cinnamon sugar mix will last you for several servings.
This dish is probably the least cost-effective recipe in this list because of all the spices involved, but it is a very good and hearty lunch that you should treat yourself to every once in a while. And, of course, the spices will last you for a while.
This recipe is also a bit more difficult to explain since I don’t measure anything because, thanks to my experience in cooking and working in different restaurants, I know how much of each ingredient feels right, so bear with me and experiment with this recipe a bit, or use your own kind of marinade.
•4-6 chicken tenderloins (less than $3.49/pound)
•Seasoned salt (an amount) ($1)
•Garlic powder (NOT A LOT, DEAR GOD DO NOT GO CRAZY ON THE GARLIC)
•Olive oil ($2.49)
•Salt and pepper
•Bell peppers ($5 for a pack of 3)
•In a sealable bag, pour the olive oil until it covers the bottom about 3 quarters of an inch. In this bag with oil, put in all of your vaguely measured spices. Place your chicken in this marinade and close the bag and massage the chicken until all of the chicken is covered in the marinade. Marinate for 2 hours.
•Julienne (cut in strips) the peppers and onions. Saute them in a pan.
•Without cleaning the pan, cook the chicken.
•Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 10 seconds per tortilla.
•Serve while hot; add cheese, sour creme, guac as you feel appropriate.
Total price: About $21. Again, definitely the most expensive recipe here, but the spices will last a while, since you don’t use too much at a time. And if you think about it, it costs about the same as getting two fajita orders for you and a date at a tex-mex restaurant.