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The Art of Finessing Simple Foods

Its 2:45 am, I’ve wandered from my cozy bedroom and ended up with my feet pressed on the cold tile floor with slightly chilly air rushing into my toes. I’ve been looking inside the refrigerator for at least 5 minutes. My moms’ voice gets louder… I can hear her in my head “ we have food at home “. But do I really? When you think of college,  what’s the first thing you would associate it with? Not many people would say food. However, from my 4 years in college, I realize that food is definitely a big part. Do you eat breakfast, lunch or dinner?  Dining hall food sucks and you would rather cook from home? The most important question … when you eat are you saving money?

First, you have to recognize your food lifestyle: This how you eat, the ways you eat, what you spend on food, and what you like to eat. For my food lifestyle, I’ve given myself a budget of 200 a month on food (approximately). I’m always on the go eating, so I know I wouldn’t need a lot of food that spoils quick. I also know my taste buds change more than the temperature in Georgia changes, so eating the same things over and over is not the move.
Here is how I finessed some meals I found at my house and what you can add to suit your taste buds on a budget!

Here is how I finessed some meals I found at my house and what you can add to suit your taste buds on a budget!


  1.  First off they are delicious (let’s just start there are versatile because you make them sweet or savory )
  2. Pancakes with fruit:  A pack of blueberries and some bananas from Aldi is really all you need if you’re needing something simple and fulfilling. You can cut them up and put them inside the batter or on top when it’s done cooking no syrup, try honey. You can also add your favorite flavorings such as vanilla, brown sugar, or cinnamon to add some sparkle! 
  3.  Oreos and pancake mix = makes the best fried Oreos! 
  4. In the mood for chicken and waffles?  you could easily substitute the waffles for pancakes
  5. My personal favorite is buying condensed leche cream and pancake syrup to drizzle over them to make  ” dulce de leche pancakes ”  or even whip cream ! 

Soups and Sandwiches

  1. These are great lunchtime meals that are easy to make + finesse

  2.  tomato soup

  3. Get the one that comes in the box/ cartons in Publix … straight fire + Bread + Colby Jack cheese. A good way to finesse this meal is to melt butter, garlic and oregano /basil in a bowl. Coat the bread in the garlic butter sauce on one side then build your grilled cheese. When you flip the sandwich make sure to add the garlic butter sauce to the other bread. It adds so much flavor and really accents the tomato soup 


  1. With the leftover bread, you have from your soup /grilled cheese combo, you can create a quick breakfast/snack toast. All you need is cream cheese, avocado, fruit ( you can use the same fruit as your pancakes to save money ),  and nut butter. 

  2. You can then make Avacodo toast, cream cheese with strawberries, cream cheese ( regular or flavored), banana+ peanut butter/almond butter toast,  and strawberry + Nutella toast. Adding honey  


  1. Bowls can be anything you want them to be! Bowls typically combine food in your house together to make an entree. Good food candidates for bowls are meat, veggies, starches. They can be made in a crockpot, one-pot skillet or roasted in the oven (that way you can do other things while it cooks like homework)

    1. Chicken +peas carrots +rice (homemade dinner feelz)
    2. Sausage+ spinach +onion +rice  ( homemade dinner feelz)
    3. Chicken + black beans + rice + corn+ cilantro + lime+red onion (Southwest feelz)
    4. Meat+ potatoes + veggies (roasted ) ( clean eating feelz)
    5.  Eggs+ peppers +onions +spinach ( breakfast feelz) 
    6. Pasta + veggies + sauce  ( Italian feelz)
  1. If you’re not a lover of meat, you can always it with another vegetable. a Good way to finesse is to try different seasonings and different veggies/items that could go together. I never know that sweet potatoes + onion+ peas+carrots + curry seasoning would make the best homemade Thai meal! And to think I was going to order pizza 

There are a few things to keep in mind when doing your shopping. First, based foods are foods you should have that you think you’ll never use, but you can always use them — nut butter and bread, rice, noodles, potatoes, veggies, fruit. Once you have your base foods, the next part if figuring out what you like to eat with them, next, you should budget your money with what you find as priorities and find alternatives (The same cost of Chinese food you could buy the teriyaki sauce, broccoli, and rice for the same price). Those breakfast sausages that come premade already could be replaced with a $2.75 of pancake mix and $2 of bananas, which can make you multiple meals, not just 2. Lastly, look at your pantry /refrigerator to see what food combinations would sound right or could, more importantly, would taste good.

So remember you can be smart with your money, while also not compromising on taste; You can have variety, you might need a little imagination; And you can finesse any meal with the right ingredients!

I am a senior obtaining a bachelors of science in biology. An aspiring veterinarian who loves food, conservation of the environment, and new experiences.
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