Saving money while in school

You too can have cash and fancy glasses.  Courtesy of Google Images.

You too can have cash and fancy glasses. Courtesy of Google Images.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can rent a good replacement. Here are a few ways that you can save some cash and allocate it towards more appropriate goals, such as a 2 a.m. Jack-in-the-Box run.

FOOD – We all “gotta” eat, but you don’t have to throw money away on it.

1. On the official dining website, a small advertisement features prominently on each page stating: Save money – Buy a meal plan! Noticeably absent though are the actual prices for the three meal plans listed.  Instead, your correspondent had to dig through the catalog to find the only apparent location of said pricing. The five meals a week plan is $840 a semester. This spring semester has 17 weeks, including spring break. Subtract the $100 Pirate Bucks to get $740. Divide $740 by 17 for weeks, then divide that by five meals a week and you get approximately $8.70. That’s assuming you use every single meal every single week (unlikely given holidays and the desire to occasionally eat somewhere besides the Commons – especially since you have $100 in Pirate Bucks to spend).  However, if you simply buy these 85 meals with Pirate Bucks, it would only cost you $530 (85 x $6.25 for lunches) or $550 if it were dinners instead of lunches (unlikely again as this plan is aimed at off-campus students who would probably use it for lunch).  So, there is no conceivable situation where the five meals a week meal plan is a good investment, in fact you are throwing away a minimum of $200. Do the math!

2. You should not be spending so much on coffee. Let’s say you buy a three-dollar coffee three times a week. This is probably on the low end for some people, but it’s just an example. A year of spending nine dollars on coffee a week is $468.  Compare this to buying a Keurig style coffee machine (easiest solution but also one of the more expensive) for around $120 (more or less depending on model) and the equivalent 150ish cups for it which is about $80 depending on brand, and you’ll already be saving approximately $250 in the first year of owning it – more if you and a friend/roommate to split it, much more if you actually go through the process of brewing it.

3. Go to Costco and throw a dinner party. Buying in bulk saves money. While you might not have room for a 30 pack of paper towels, a group effort can make the trip to Austin’s Sam’s or Costco well worth it. Pooling resources to cook together accomplishes the same thing.

BOOKS – Textbook publishing is a huge, booming business – for a reason.

1. You want your books to be cheap, right? Nothing is cheaper than free. If the book is old enough for the copyright to be expired, more than likely it’ll be on books.google.com.  Another option to check on is simple – the library. While classic textbooks (math, science, foreign language, etc) are typically not in the library (and don’t ask me why they aren’t – I’m of the opinion that any book assigned for a class should be required to be available in the library), pretty much everything else is. Obviously class books might be in high demand from SU’s library, but don’t forget that the Georgetown library is just a few blocks away.

2. If you do have to buy the book, keep in mind that SU’s bookstore is one of the most expensive sources possible.  You can save a ton of money just ordering your books off Amazon, AbeBooks, or other such sites. You can also keep track of friends who are taking the classes you are going to take and buy books directly from them. This has the added effect of them being able to sell it for more than they would otherwise (typically). One caveat: This method is much more unreliable in terms of time and quality of the books, so in regards to convenience the SU Bookstore still comes out on top. Don’t forget to check edition numbers, although if you can get away with it, the previous editions are usually much cheaper.

3. Before making a decision, I’d recommend talking to your professor. Believe it or not, professors are highly sympathetic to a tight book budget. They’re also the best source for finding out if you can get away with an online version of the book, or a book that’s a few editions old. Finding a way to get around needing a book the class uses for a week is a whole lot simpler than a book used throughout the semester.

As with saving money anywhere, if you do the research and make a little effort, you can easily reap the benefits of being frugal.

HUMMMUS

hummus-ckeasy. delicious. healthy. happy.

someone recently reminded me how much ground up garbanzo beans are delicious. especially when doused in garlic. honestly, i don’t have a foodsabra processor- so for under $4 at [[devil market capitalism place-that-shall-not-be-named]] i buy Sabra, which is without a doubt the best hummus ever, and possibly better than homemade. [{roasted garlic. do it.}] & eat with quarters of those little flour fajita tortillas, which you can get 20 for a dollar. [[ much better & cost efficient than pita ]]

however, if you need a quick, impressive and delicious snack or appetizer and have a few bucks to spend or want to make huge quantities for cheap– here’s my favorite recipe:

  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 2-3 tsp cayenne powder

Throw it all in a food processor, adding more of the salt, lemon, or cayenne to taste. Should be an almost creamy almost paste texture. Yum. Serve with tortillas, cherry tomatoes (!!!), celery sticks, raw red bell pepper slices, or baked pita chips.

Baked pita chips:

Buy store-made pita, open and layout flat on cookie sheets, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and bake for 5 minutes at 375, watching closely, turning once. hummus-ck

Vedge Pizza.

Like this... but with better and MORE veggies.

Like this... but with better and MORE veggies.

With the clean-up intensity of last week’s recipe, and the stress-level of this week’s SU-sized workload, I decided to do something considerably less work-intense and much more kid (or, more obviously, boyfriend) -friendly. [or ((excuse my binary assumption)) really any other kitchen-dysfunctional loved ones.]

Admittedly, I am not a “pizza” fan, when referring to the greasy-fastfoody-delivery type slab covered in Mozzarella Americana. [call me a snob] but I do love flat bread, which is much closer to the original intention of pizza than the gross overhaul that now frequents sport-watching events and whatnot. [no really, I am not quite sure why anyone eats it.]

So put on some Dean Martin and pop in a movie, [{ or the superbowl, i guess }] and have your cooking accomplice (dysfunctional or not) do the rest.

Also, I put the low-fat recipe here (my accomplice is self-conscious), but obviously you can use all the full-fat products exactly the same and I’m sure it will taste a little bit more like heaven.

  • 1 Pillsbury (or preferably off-brand) refrigerated low-fat crescent rolls package (it’s 8 oz)
  • 1 c room-temp cream cheese (low-fat, garden vegetable, or garlic herb are the best)
  • 1 tomato (Roma or House, whichever you prefer)*
  • 1/2 c sliced olives (generally canned)*
  • 1 bell pepper (preferably yellow or orange- NOT GREEN)
  • 1 cucumber, skinned and chopped*
  • 3/4 c chopped red onion (or about half a large red onion)
  • 1 can diced pineapple (or about 1&1/2 c fresh)
  • 1/2 c shredded carrot (fresh is best)

*i stole these from the commons (1 c halved the cherry tomatoes) and they worked out splendidly and “free”.

  1. Heat oven to 375veggie pizza
  2. Roll out dough without separating the crescents, like one big rectangle, and carefully pinch together any threatening-to-separate pieces as you stretch the dough nice and thin, shooting for about 1/4″ thick– but not too thin!
  3. Pop it in the oven (middle rack) for as long as it says on the package you ended up buying, or until golden brown
  4. Prep/chop/grate/open-cans-of all veggies
  5. If you’re using plain cream cheese, mix in a little garlic powder or fresh garlic. (because I assume you love garlic as much as me)
  6. Pull dough out of oven and let cool completely (or near to)
  7. Generously spread cream cheese evenly on all of the now baked and cooled crust– right to the edge!
  8. Sprinkle all of your fix’ns onto the cream cheese evenly, especially in the corners. It should look like a rainbow at this point. Mmm.
  9. Cut in rectangles and use spatula to remove. Enjoy.

Keep in mind you can add/remove any ingredients at will, if you are allergic to something or have leftover raw zucchini/squash/broccoli, etcetera.

Happy superbowl weekend [& of course superbowl monday].

Quinoa & Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

mmm peppersThe weather is teasing me with this sunny-hints-of-spring days and harsh bitter (mid 40s!) nights regiment. To combat my nostalgic spring-fever, on Monday Night #1 we decided to have a quasi-Mexican style evening {{ quasi because there were [very unfortunately] no margaritas.}} however, we [ possibly mostly I ] managed to eat something like 20 avocados worth of guac and spill [clearly hyperbolic] gallons of tomato sauce all over elJ’s floor (( because everyone deserves a Jersey Shore-esque “nickname”. )) thus the evening can still be deemed a success.

Anywho here’s the recpie:

[{ i learned a little too late in life that reading a recipe All the way through makes a huge difference. }]

Mmm...peppers.

Mmm...peppers.

* = I stole it from the commons and it worked out just fine for free.

** if you are doubling this (because leftovers are the best) make sure to have extra big pots/pans/etc.

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil for 3ish minutes, until onions are translucent.

2. Add garlic (lots!) and mushrooms; sauté about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their moisture– when they shrink up.

3. Stir in the chili powder (to taste) and salt.

4. Add the quinoa and 1 cup of the tomato sauce (reserve the rest) and the water; lower the heat and cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring once.

5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350º F, or have your friends do this.

Finished peppers!

Finished peppers!

6. Put a pot of water to boil the peppers in on the stove.Cut the tops off the peppers (but keep them if you want cutesy caps) and remove the seeds and ribs.

7. Boil the peppers for 5 minutes, then drain them, then place them in a baking dish to await filling.

8. When quinoa is finished simmering, combine the beans and maple syrup with the cooked quinoa mixture.

9. Stuff each pepper with the filling, and stand them upright in a baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the peppers, put their caps on, and bake for 15 minutes.

10. Remove from oven; garnish (envelope) with cilantro, and serve.

    Why Salsa?

    salsaSalsa (a Spanish condiment made up of tomatoes, onion, cilantro, peppers, and whatever else the salsa creator desires) has always been the number one addition to foods in my repertoire.  I  love salsa so much, that I even eat it like a salad.  In my personal opinion (because this is a blog and I get to tell you my opinion) the best salsa is fresh, homemade pico de gallo; the more minimalistic, the better. But why salsa? Well, mainly because salsa is a healthy and delicious alternative to ketchup and many other condiments that can mask, instead of enhancing, the flavors of hamburgers or other foods.

    The following is my own recipe for this delicious meal addition.

    3 large tomatoes
    1 bunch cilantro
    1/2 large onion (or 1 small onion)
    2 jalapeno peppers
    Salt
    Black Pepper
    2 small limes

    Dice tomatoes and onion.  Seed and dice the jalapeno as shown in the video here. Roughly chop cilantro.  Mix in a large bowl to combine vegetables.  Add juice from the limes.  Add salt, black pepper to taste. Stir and refrigerate for half an hour for flavors to combine.

    Enjoy!

    Ideas for this recipe include, but are not limited to:

    • topping hamburgers
    • mixing with avocado for guacamole
    • mixing in to your favorite salad
    • adding to tomato soup
    • simply eating with tortilla chipssee you guys next week!
      -Laney

    MegaVege & me.

    veg stuff

    In all reality, I wasn’t a huge fan of blogs [ still adamantly non-fanatical ] until it came time to find new veg things to eat/places to eat/foodporn.

    [{ or for those a little more dedicated, actual kitchenporn }]

    Regardless, I live on campus, have limited kitchen access,  am constantly on some sort of budget & am unfortunately consistently health “conscious” [forced health consciousness-- see hypoglycemic], though generally dieting is for suckers.

    Obviously I, like the masses, tire of commons food– especially when my options are veggie burger (made of beans and rice), actual beans and rice, refried beans, oily-flavorless pasta surprise, or a salad. I acknowledge and admit as a part of the food advisory committee [[complain wednesdays at noon]] that they’re doing they’re best for those of us with “dietary restrictions” but sometimes it’s not enough.

    Plus, I am sort of addicted to Mexican food, which is obviously obtainable in Gtown [& to which my accomplice would have us go multiple times week] but moderately expensive/fattening when eaten in the high quantities in which I tend to indulge.

    Anywho. Basically I’ll just let you know recpies that I’ve found/concocted/loved & am cooking this week, so even if you’re not veg [Foer requires that I inform you of the misstep in your lifestyle] you can indulge or prep at your will.

    [{ I am not anti-carnivores. }]

    & restaurant reviews.

    & the occasional look-at-these-crazy-veg-people moment.

    impressively creative vegetarians at work

    impressively creative vegetarians at work

    happy monday.