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Top Five Recipes for a Broke College Student

Although college food is great, and the University at Buffalo takes pride in being voted the best food out of the SUNY system for four years in a row, but after the first week of college dining your stomach has had enough. Have no fear; your digestive system is now saved with these top five recipes

1.    SPINACH FETA GRILLED CHEESE You’re lying if you say this doesn’t sound delish (and it’s vegetarian!). All you need are these simple things INGREDIENTS: •    ½ Tbsp. olive oil  •    1 clove garlic  •    ¼ lb. frozen cut spinach  •    Pinch of salt & pepper  •    2 ciabatta rolls  •    1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese  •    1 oz. feta cheese 

INSTRUCTIONS: •    Mince the garlic and add it to a skillet with the olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add the frozen spinach then increase the heat up to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through and most of the excess moisture has evaporated away. Season lightly with salt and pepper to the amount you desire. •    Cut the rolls in half. Add about ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella and ½ oz. of feta to the bottom half of each roll. Divide the cooked spinach between the two sandwiches, plus ¼ more shredded mozzarella on each if you want them extra cheesy! (Tip: if you want some more flavors, add a little red pepper flakes!) •    Place the top half of the ciabatta roll on the sandwiches and transfer them to a large non-stick skillet or use Pam non-stick spray to cover a skillet to make sure it doesn’t stick. Fill a large pot with a few inches of water to create weight, and then place the pot on top of the sandwiches to press them down (you’ve just made you own at home Panini press!). Turn the heat on to medium-low and cook until the sandwiches are crispy on the bottom. Carefully flip the sandwiches, place the weighted pot back on top, and cook until crispy on the other side and the cheese is melted, then dig in!

2.    CREAMY TOMATO AND SPINACH PASTA Spinach seems to be the go to for a college student budget, but this recipe may have some more ingredients but I promise you it’s worth every penny! You can always save the pasta and eat it the next day for a quick lunch.  INGREDIENTS: •    ½ lb. penne pasta  •    1 small onion  •    2 cloves garlic  •    1 Tbsp. olive oil  •    1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes  •    ½ tsp. dried oregano  •    ½ tsp. dried basil  •    ½ tsp. salt  •    Cracked pepper to taste  •    2 Tbsp. tomato paste  •    2 oz. cream cheese  •    ¼ cup grated Parmesan  •    ½ (9 oz.) bag fresh spinach 

 INSTRUCTIONS: •    Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Drain the pasta. •    While waiting for the pasta to cook, chop up the onion and the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent, which takes about 5 minutes. •    Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce. •    Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the Parmesan and whisk until melted in again. •    Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted. Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve toasty warm.

3.    SOUTHWEST CHICKEN SKILLET Here’s something with a little more protein that will make anyone happy. It’s a good warm dish perfect for watching movies and snuggling in on those cold windy buffalo days.  INGREDIENTS: •    1 cup uncooked long grain white rice (or brown rice, if you’re feeling healthy) •    1 cup salsa  •    1.5-2 cups precooked shredded chicken  •    1 (15 oz.) can black beans  •    1 Tbsp. chili powder •    1¾ cups chicken broth •    1 cup shredded cheese  •    2-3 green onions, sliced 

INSTRUCTIONS: •    In a large skillet, combine the rice, salsa, chicken, black beans (drain them first), chili powder, and chicken broth. Stir until everything is evenly combined. •    Place a tight fitting lid on the skillet, turn the heat on to high, and let the skillet come to a full boil. As soon as the skillet comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Make sure it is simmering the entire time, turning the heat up slightly if needed (you should be able to hear it simmer quietly). •    After 30 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and fluff the mixture with a fork. All of the liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be tender. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese over top, replace the lid, and let it sit for a few minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Meanwhile, slice the green onions. Sprinkle the green onions over the melted cheese and serve hot.

4.    SLIDER-STYLE MINI BURGERS This is the perfect treat for the weekends when you want a home cooked meal but you don’t exactly want it to be too healthy. Here for your pleasure is this recipe for sliders combining the best of both worlds.  INGREDIENTS: •    2 lbs. of ground beef •    1 envelop of onion soup mix •    ½ cup of mayonnaise  •    2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese •    24 dinner rolls (split) •    Sliced pickles (if your heart desires)

INSTRUCTIONS: •    Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. •    Mix together the ground beef and onion soup mix in a large skillet; cook and stir over medium-high heat until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain and discard any excess grease. Remove from heat. Stir the mayonnaise and Cheddar cheese into the ground beef mixture. •    Lay the bottoms of the dinner rolls on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the cheese and beef mixture on the bottom half of each roll. Replace the tops. Cover with another sheet of aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. •    Bake in the preheated oven until the burgers are heated through and cheese melts, about 30 minutes. Serve with sliced pickles to make them even more delicious. 

5.    MICROWAVE FUDGE  As a friend of mine says, it’s not dinner without some sweets at the end. So let’s end this on a good note with probably the easiest and sweetest recipe on the entire list.  INGREDIENTS: •    4 cups confectioners’ sugar  •    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder •    1/4 cup milk •    1/2 cup butter  •     2 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS: •    Grease a 9×9 inch dish. •    In a microwave safe bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. Pour milk over mixture and place butter in bowl. Do not mix. Microwave until butter is melted, 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla and stir vigorously until smooth. Pour into prepared dish. •    Chill in freezer 10 minutes before you cut (Use cookie cutting shapes sprinkles to make the fudge fun and decorated)

There you are! You’re perfect at home meals are now complete. So skip the dining hall why not stay in with some friends, cook a feast and watch some Netflix! Take a break from the studying because you deserve it! Enjoy!




References: •    W., Pritchard, K. V., C., Rehberg, B., L., F., . . . T. (2003, December 09). Gaye’s Microwave Fudge Recipe. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/23090/gayes-microwave-fudge/?internalSource… recipe&referringId=157&referringContentType=recipe hub&clickId=cardslot 20

•    Says, K., Says, A., Says, K., Says, L., Says, B., Says, H., . . . Says, S. (2014, August 23). Top 10 Recipes for College Students. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from https://www.budgetbytes.com/2014/08/top-10-recipes-for-college-students/





I am a sophomore and Communications major here at the University at Buffalo. I was editor of my high school newspaper, was a research intern at the Radler Foundation located in Fort Worth, Texas, and wrote many articles for Todd Hobin's new website. I'm very into music, movies, and media and am very happy to be a part of the Her Campus community!
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