To eat inexpensively you have to first off figure out what foods you really enjoy, things that you have grown up with and would miss if they were not in your diet. Ask your mom for some of her recipes and write them down. Once you have this list figure out how you can make them for yourself with limited space and appliances.
Soups, stews, roasts and chicken can all be cooked in a slow cooker. Get a small one to take or ask for one for a birthday or Christmas gift. Saves you money right off the top.
Meatloaf, pizza, frozen french fries and onion rings can all be done in a toaster oven. This again would make a nice gift.
Keep in mind that toaster ovens do not make toast very well or fast. So don’t rely on them for this task. But cheese on a bun toasted in one is actually nicer than in the big broiler pan in the large stove. If you have a stove you do not need the toaster oven so find out what cooking appliances are available for you to use.
An electric frying pan is great if you don’t have a stove. In a pinch you can even bake in one. I have made cakes from a mix, it was a bit flat but tasted pretty good and covered in icing who knew. Helps with the desire for sweets instead of going out and buying something at the corner store which eats into your food budget.
Now even if you are in a residence at school I have heard that the meals are pretty bland, so if you like spicy food take a bottle of hot sauce or dry spices that you can sprinkle on them to make them more to your liking.
Also, you will probably go out for fast food on occasion so salt, pepper, ketchup and things that don’t take refrigeration would be a good idea. My children would eat anything if it was covered in ketchup.
There is probably a small kitchen on each floor with a microwave for frozen meals or popcorn for late night snacks so the condiments would make these better tasting for you.
Now you have the appliances listed above and here is a list of dry staples you should have on hand and you can make a meal without going out to the store.
Salt, pepper, dried onions (salt, powder or dehydrated). A small bag of flour. Chicken bullion packets, a can or two of vegetables, pork and beans,tuna fish, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, spaghetti, either a few cans of soup or the packages of dry soups. Onion soup mix is also great for dips mixed into the sour cream. Ketchup, mustard, relish, salad dressing (mayonnaise is a good basic one) and can be used for tuna or salmon sandwiches, mixed with a bit of flavoured vinegar and you can use it for salad dressing as well. For this you need a fridge as it will go bad if left out. Other than that all of these can be kept on the shelf with no problem. Almost forgot, coffee, tea, coffee whitener and sugar, hot chocolate mix and some juice drink mixes.
Potatoes, carrots, squash and turnips can be kept without refrigeration and added to soups and stews are nutritious and taste pretty good. Just make sure you keep them where you won’t forget them as they do not keep indefinitely and can smell up a room when they are left too long.
I am not a person who uses a lot of the convenience foods, but for a single person sometimes it saves money and gets you eating healthier if you do use them.
A few of these are the salad mixes in the produce section. A small package will usually make 2 – 4 meals so if you have limited fridge space get one of these put a single serving into a small bag and the 4 will take up a lot less room. You will be able to grab them out when in a hurry so you are getting vegetables in your diet. If you have a can of tuna this can be added or some fruit cut up into it. You have a meal which is faster and cheaper than picking up the phone and speed dialing for pizza.
You can also buy peeled carrots, celery by the stalk and broccoli and cauliflower already cut up for munching or cooking. You don’t have to buy a huge head and then go home and cut it up and pack it into the fridge. Saves time and you have less waste so it saves money even if the unprepared appears to be cheaper.
The small bags of baby potatoes are also a good idea as you don’t have to peel them and they are small enough that you will probably use them up before they go bad. Buying a 10lb bag is just not practical unless you intend to eat potatoes morning noon and night. Will post a few recipes for using vegetables in a paragraph further down the page.
Now if you have a freezer whether it is stand alone or with the fridge you will be able to buy a few things extra. Like larger packs of meats and vegetables. This should help you save money.
Instead of ordering in wings or pizza you could get some frozen ones and simply heat them in the oven. No take out with tips and waiting for it. Put some in the oven and 20 minutes later you have hot wings or pizza and can keep studying.
You could use the slow cooker and cook a chicken dinner one night, use the bones and left over meat and make a soup stock. freeze in small containers and have chicken soup another night of the week. Or use the stock to make a stir fry one night you have vegetables to use up. Saves money on Chinese take out.
You can also either make hamburger patties and freeze them or buy a box of frozen ones. You can find lots of copy cat recipes on line. So do some research and maybe you can find the ones for your favourite foods and save some money.
So learn to think outside the box and maybe save yourself frustration and money by cooking for yourself and friends. Have some pot luck parties or some bbq’s at the park. Food is important to live and it is also important to have friends so if you can combine the two you might be better off.