More Money, Less Problems

Billy Ferguson / Fourth Estate

Try telling yourself you have food at home


I hate leftovers as much as the next person. However, turning one meal into two or three can make a big difference for your budget. For everyone with access to a kitchen, adding a single cooked meal to your week can be an awesome way to save money and eat a tad less Wendy’s.

Paying for individual meals adds up quickly. Eating fast food three nights in a row can easily run you $30 dollars. For a similar price, you can pick up a wealth of quality ingredients that will make one yummy meal that lasts a few days, with money left over for breakfast.

While some culinary techniques are very advanced, a large chunk of the essentials are not. There are a ton of classic meals that require very little kitchen expertise and equipment. If you’re trying to be Gordon Ramsey, I would stop reading this article, quit whatever you’re doing and get into a professional kitchen.

For the rest of us, find what you like to eat, choose a reliable recipe site (Bon Appétit is my personal favorite) and get cooking. In addition to traditional recipes available online, some magazines and YouTube channels have numerous step-by-step tutorials to help you make kitchen magic.  

The real game changer for leftovers: make food that you want to eat. It’s so much easier to eat something the second day that already tasted fantastic fresh from the kitchen. It seems silly, but think about the food you enjoyed growing up with and the things you typically order at restaurants. These are going to be your everyday meals.

Start with one of those meals and slowly add to your repertoire. Also master a few basic meals like tacos or pasta with Bolognese, and make sure to shop strategically. If you’re only going to cook one meal for yourself, you shouldn’t need large quantities of required ingredients. 

I’ve probably made tacos at least six times in the past month. Each time, I’ve tried something new to expand on the things I enjoyed from the previous iteration, and I’ve found it’s actually kind of fun. What changed the game for me when it comes to leftovers is that when I do a good job cooking, I actually look forward to eating what I made.

Also, if you run out of only one or two of the ingredients, just head over to the store and buy them again. You can easily remake that part of the meal and extend it even further. 

I love food. It’s also pretty important. Kind of essential, really. But, I am also a student with things to do and places to be — and minimal funds to do so. Cooking every day does not work for me, and I don’t think that it does for every college student. I’m not proposing that you should cut out the entirety of your external eating. During a regular week, my meals are probably split evenly between cooking and eating out. Cooking once a week can save you money while helping you develop a healthy adult skill.

For those who live on campus but do not have a kitchen, there are kitchen resources available in Hanover and Taylor Halls. Also, feel free to warm up your meal in one of the many  microwaves in the Johnson Center.