The Best Sites for College Bites
Along with the requisite meal-in-a-mug recipes, these websites also have budget and shopping advice tailored to newbie cooks.
By Lauren Diethelm, University of California, Santa Cruz
Being in charge of your own eating habits is one of the most exciting things about moving away from home for the first time.
Suddenly all the things your mom would never buy for you as a kid are definitely an option, and no one is bugging you to eat your vegetables because they’re eating cereal for the third meal today, too.
That said, there comes a point where the novelty of eating whatever you want wears off, and reaching that point is, I think, reaching real adulthood.
(My point was this morning, when I couldn’t enjoy my long-time favorite Nutella toast because the Nutella made my teeth hurt. I used to eat that shit with a spoon, and now here I am. Growing up sucks.)
This is the first year of college that I haven’t lived on campus, and so haven’t been forced to purchase some form of a meal plan. While initially I was stoked to save that money and not have to eat gross dining hall food, I’m now realizing how much I depended on that gross food. Even when I had the smallest plan available, I had at least one solid meal a day that I didn’t have to think about or prepare myself, and now that I don’t have that, my eating habits are seriously slipping, much to my foodie-parents’ chagrin.
This summer, I’ve been on the hunt (read: Pinterest) for meals I can make easily whose ingredients don’t cost me an arm and a leg, to moderate success. Pinterest has a lot of mom bloggers who have substantially larger incomes and kitchens than I do, but I’ve found a few gems who seem to seem to understand the broke college struggle. Here are the four food blogs that are perfect for broke college students who want to cook.
1. Budget Bytes
This woman is hands-down my favorite food blogger, and over the course of this summer I’ve encountered quite a few. Her writing is simple and funny, and there’s a lot to be said for not having to read miles and miles about how her children just went back to school before finally getting to the recipe at the end.
Each of her recipes has the cost broken down (and I mean broken down—did you know 1 large egg costs $0.17? Now you do). While knowing the cost of a single egg is not immediately helpful, knowing that you can make awesome Sesame Chicken (for less than the cost of a big fast food meal is pretty cool.)
What makes her my favorite, though, is how simple most of the meals are. Because come on, people, when the option to order a pizza is right there and so easy, why would I make an expensive salad with a kind of lettuce I can’t even pronounce? I wouldn’t, that’s why.
Almost everything on her site is something I would and could make for myself without seriously fucking it up, and the recipes I have tried have all turned out the way they’re supposed to. Yay!
Fairly solid pun aside, this blogger means it when she says her recipes are for students. She has vegan and vegetarian options, an entire section dedicated to variations on ramen, and the college classic—foods you can make in a mug in a microwave. I thought this was just for dessert but this is not so, friends. Look at this bomb quiche.
I think this site must be new, because it doesn’t look fully developed, but what I like and will probably use the most are the resources she has for building a foundation for cooking more.
The real highlight, I think, are these two check-lists for things you should just always have in your kitchen. I’m a huge fan of this, because it makes it easy to come home at any given time and have options for something healthier than ordering food or just not eating all.
Posts like this one apply to more than just lunch and are immensely helpful if you have to be on campus during the day all week and don’t want to have to buy food, which gets expensive and fattening real quick.
This site is, somewhat unfortunately, one of those ones run by a mom who spends a little too much time on her personal life and not as much on the food. Just so you know.
And she’s almost spending more on groceries per month than I am on rent, which is a scary-ass number, but she’s feeding 6 growing children and presumably all their friends. Scale that back to one or two people, if you’re kind and feeding your roommate, and it’s not so bad.
So somewhat needless to say, I’m not recommending her as a budgeting example, but that’s not to say the food she makes doesn’t look damn good, because oh my it looks delicious. Most of what I saw looks like classic comfort food that my parents made growing up, and sometimes that just what you need. A lot of it also lends itself well to making extra and freezing it, which is perfect for those days you just don’t have time to make anything new.
Also, in reading through her site, I’ve found the answers to questions I would be asking my own mom, like how much is too much to be spending on groceries? Can I refreeze meat I already thawed without dying?
I stumbled upon this blog right at the end of my extensive internet combing, and I’m super glad I did.
It’s run by two college students and is kind of an amalgamation of recipes and other various college-related things, like this business email glossary, which I feel so deep in my soul its not even funny.
For the most part it looks like they’re just a resource; most of the blog is links to outside sites for other people who made the food, but having everything in one place is super convenient, and again, it’s all food that college students can realistically make. A lot of it is mac and cheese, just made fancier, and who doesn’t love that?