No Spare Change: A Guide on How to Shop and Save


Felicia Glover, Columnist

How many times have we heard that cheap meals are in a college student’s diet? When we go home, that home cooking meal tastes so good, but what if I told you I could help you make some home cooked (like) meals? I took three known college student staple foods and created a dinner or midday snack idea that would fit any budget.

Take ramen noodles, for example, the college student’s friend, especially in a residence hall with limited access to a stove top. Ramen was once a cheap solution to hunger in post WWII Japan, but it’s a reliable solution for hungry co-eds.

It’s impossible to mess up the stringy fare. Some people prefer ramen in soup-like form, with lots of water, while some prefer it dry – the less water the better. Some prefer the cup over the pack and vice versa.

Whatever your preference is, you can cook up a healthy vegetarian-friendly ramen meal for under $5, and you can eat this meal more than once.

First, I set off on my journey for produce. I wanted to make a veggie stir fry with ramen, and I needed to spend the majority of my cash on fresh produce.

I went to Thomas’ Super Foodtown off of highway 309. I saw they had an overstock bin of produce, and the price was reduced.

I grabbed a pack of green bell peppers for $1.50 and one large onion for $1.49 .  I ran over and grabbed two packs of ramen chicken flavor for $.25.  Now that I had my main ingredients, I went back to my house and cooked.

I cut the peppers into strips while a pot of water was boiling. I diced the onion and made so much that I had extra to put in a container.

Since I live on lower campus, I have a fully functional kitchen. However, if you are in the residence hall,  you can easily replicate this meal on your own.

Weis market had pre-cut vegetables in the produce section. But you can grab a plastic knife by the Banks dining hall and use the kitchenette areas located in the residence hall facilities.

Once all of the peppers and onions were prepared, I heated up a sauté pan and sautéed the peppers and onions to give them a crunch and add extra flavor. I used olive oil I already had in my cabinet. You can get olive oil for $1.99 at Thomas’  if you need it. If you’re on campus, you can always steam your peppers and onions in the microwave.

I do not use the seasoning packet from the ramen. What makes this meal healthy is reducing the amount of sodium from the seasoning packet and loading the dish with fresh veggies instead.

Season to taste, and, honey, you got yourself some dinner, child! This whole process took six minutes prep and cook time.

Feel free to email me your money-saving challenges for upcoming editions.