How to Make Egg and Vegetable Hash

11 03 2010

How to Make Meatloaf

11 03 2010

Going Green on a Budget

8 03 2010

Saving the environment has become one of the biggest and most beneficial trends over the last few years. People are planting trees, eating organic, saving water, and doing whatever they can to keep Mother Earth healthy. Many people aren’t catching on though, because they believe that it is expensive to go green. It can be pricey to install solar panels and replace all your light bulbs, but cooking, shopping, and living eco-friendly doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.

Shopping eco-friendly may sound expensive, but you’ll find it’s easier and cheaper than you realize. Instead of driving to the grocery store, try riding your bike or walking. If you have to buy more items than you can carry, plan to drive with a few other people so you can all make one big trip and save on gas. Driving less is not only good for the environment, but it also gives you exercise and saves money. It’s also a good idea to invest (and by invest, I mean spend $1) on a cloth bag to take with you. Plastic is horrible for the environment, and paper kills trees. When the cashier asks if you want paper or plastic, tell them you brought your own reusable bag in a loud voice so the person behind you hears too. Maybe you’ll guilt them into bringing their own bag next time.

Buying organic food is great if you have a little extra money, but there are alternative options if you don’t. The produce at the farmer’s market is often cheaper, and it is locally grown which saves gas (from transportation). Fresh produce also tastes better, and farmers will often give you free stuff. If you buy regular produce from the grocery store, check the sticker to see where it’s from. Produce that traveled to your basket from another country caused more pollution on the way.

Cooking food means you’re going to make dirty dishes. Cleaning them can waste a lot of water and toxic soap. Most grocery stores sell environmentally friendly dish soap for the same price as regular soap. Also, when you’re doing the dishes, don’t leave the faucet running the whole time. Try filling the sink with soapy water or just turning the faucet on when you need to rinse a dish. There are people around the world that struggle to find clean water, so it’s important that we conserve the water we have.

There are several other things you can do to be eco-friendly. Going green is easier than people realize, and you don’t need to give up bathing to do it. Driving less, using reusable bags, wasting less water, and using less electricity can all make a difference in the long run. We only have one world, and it is important that we all do what we can to keep it clean.

The World on Your Plate

1 03 2010

A crepe for breakfast, sushi for lunch, and an enchilada for dinner: The diversity of America is reflected in the food we eat. You don’t have to go to a restaurant to get your favorite Mexican dish, though. Many ethnic foods are easy to make at home on a budget.

You might already be cooking ethnic food without realizing it (or maybe you are fully aware of it), but it doesn’t hurt to try some new recipes. By the way, Kraft macaroni and cheese and frozen grocery store pizza do not count as Italian food. Most recipes make several servings, so if you don’t want leftovers for a week, invite your friends over for a dinner from around the world.

From PHX Rail Food

Since Mexican food is so popular here, and because it’s one of my favorite kinds of food, we’ll start with a few dishes inspired by our neighboring country. Enchiladas are perfect when you need some comfort food. You can make them with chicken, beef, pork, or even just cheese. I personally like recipes that use ground beef, because it is cheap and easy to work with. Tacos and burritos are probably the easiest Mexican dishes. You can pretty much just throw whatever you want into a tortilla, and you’ll have a great, hearty meal. One of my favorite things to eat as a snack or an appetizer is guacamole. It’s really easy to make, and it’s perfect for parties or just for people who really love avocados.

Chinese food is great to experiment with when you want something other than hamburgers. If you’re allergic to dairy, it’s perfect because most dishes don’t have any dairy in them. If you’re allergic to peanuts though, I don’t recommend eating Chinese food. Chinese Chicken Salad is one of my favorite ways to get in some greens. It’s light, but also filling. Orange chicken is also a great Chinese inspired dish. And if you make it yourself, it will probably taste better than it does at a fast food restaurant. Plus, you’ll know a stranger didn’t sneeze on it or leave it sitting out all day.

I’m part Italian, so naturally I’m drawn to pasta. One of my absolute favorite Italian dishes is lasagna. It’s like eating pasta, but better. Spaghetti is probably the easiest pasta you can make. Tomato sauce isn’t difficult to make, but there are some decent canned sauces out there too. Parmesan chicken is also easy to make, and it’s perfect for dinner. There are tons of great pasta recipes, but this post would be never ending if I listed them all. If you love pasta but you’re sick of red sauce, try searching for some other ideas.

So next time you’re craving an ethnic dish, don’t spend money somewhere like Olive Garden or Panda Express. You can make a dish that is just as authentic, if not more so, at home for less money. Plus, you’ll get more than one meal out of it, which is a total bonus.

Trying to go green on a budget? Tune in next time for some tips on shopping and cooking eco-friendly.

Until then, eat healthy, cook quickly, and please don’t eat orange chicken with lasagna.

Eat Your Veggies

24 02 2010

Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, but some people struggle daily to get their five servings in. It’s easy for kids to avoid eating them. They can shovel them under the table to the dog, spit them in a napkin, or just throw a temper tantrum. But we need the nutrients fruits and veggies provide as adults and as busy students. And guess what? If you cook your brussels sprouts the right way, you may actually enjoy them.

Breakfast is the perfect meal to get your daily dose of fruit in. It’s perfect on top of yogurt, cereal, and even pancakes or waffles. If you don’t have time to cut up any fruit, just drink it. Most juices provide you with a full serving of fruit. They also only take about a minute to drink a glass, so you have no excuse. Just make sure you’re buying 100% juice, because cocktails are usually full of added sugar.

One of my favorite ways to get some fruit in my diet is with smoothies. You can use frozen or fresh fruit, but frozen is often cheaper. Most fruits taste good together, so be creative. Pick a few of your favorite fruits, and add some ice. To make it more interesting, you can also add sorbet, juice, milk, or ice cream. If you love Jamba Juice, take note of what ingredients are in your favorite smoothie, and try replicating it at home. I love Jamba Juice, but you can make the same smoothies at home for about half the price.

Fruit is pretty easy to work into your diet, but for many, vegetables are a whole different issue. I’ve met a surprising number of people in my life that claim they hate most vegetables. If your only really had cold peas or raw broccoli though, I can understand why. Most vegetables are good steamed, but not plain. Try adding spices or lemon juice and butter to your steamed veggies to make them a little more interesting. Broccoli is also good with hollandaise sauce, and green beans are more interesting with some slivered almonds.

If you haven’t had any fruits or vegetables all day and it’s now time for dinner, make up for lost time by making vegetables the main ingredient in your meal. Stir fry is a great meal that features veggies, and so is green salad. You can make salads more filling by adding some meat, beans, or rice.

Believe it or not, you can even get in a serving of fruit for dessert. Try putting some fresh fruit on top of ice cream, frozen yogurt, or cake. Fruit salad is almost dessert by itself, but adding some whipped cream or chocolate syrup makes it even more decadent.

Sick of American food? Tune in next time for some ethnic recipes.

Until then, eat healthy, cook quickly, and please don’t feed your cauliflower to your dog.

First Date Feast

22 02 2010

Dating in college can be rough with little spending money. Fancy restaurants can cost more than $50 just for one meal, and other forms of entertainment aren’t much cheaper. Cooking dinner for your date can save a lot of dough, and your date will likely be very impressed. Just make sure you don’t burn anything.

I understand that most college students are not chefs. Honestly, it sometimes takes me hours to get through complicated recipes. But practice makes perfect, right? You have to start somewhere. And if your date really likes you, they’ll be forgiving if your mashed potatoes are a little lumpy. If you’re anxious about conquering a meal on your own, ask your date to come over and cook with you. You can chop and chat at the same time, and your date will probably enjoy helping you out.

I’ve discovered quite a few good recipes over the last few years that are perfect for special occasions. Whether your date is a vegetarian or a carnivore, you should be able to find something to please them. I recommend shopping for everything you need the day before you plan on cooking to make sure you don’t forget anything. Also, clean up your apartment before your date comes over. He/she will not be impressed by a heaping pile of dirty dishes or a table covered in trash.

If your date eats red meat, steak is easy to cook and costs less at a grocery store than in a restaurant. You can even buy it already seasoned, so all you need to do is throw it in the oven. Trader Joe’s sells seasoned steak for about $15 which can feed five or six people (or two people three times). I like putting baby potatoes in the pan with the steak. The potatoes absorb some seasoning from the steak, and you don’t need to do anything to them because they’re already bite sized. Just steam your favorite vegetable to go with the meat, and you have a restaurant meal for a lot less money.

Chicken and pork are also perfect meats to dress up for date night. Both are cheap, and they are easy to cook on the stove or in the oven. Salsa Chicken, Tomato Chicken Parmesan, and Baked Teriyaki Chicken are all classic, interesting recipes. Pork chops are also extremely easy to make because most recipes don’t require you to do much to them.

Pasta is easy and cheap, but it can be really impressive and fancy. I don’t mean boxed pastas like macaroni and cheese or Hamburger Helper. I can pretty much guarantee your date won’t be impressed by Kraft. Recipes like Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, Cajun Seafood Pasta, or Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta will look and taste like you ordered them from a five star restaurant. I wouldn’t suggest making spaghetti for a first date unless you don’t mind red sauce all over your face and outfit.

So next time you hesitate to ask out the pretty girl or nice guy in your biology class because you have no money, be creative. Everyone eats, and most dates would love a home cooked meal.

If you have trouble getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet because you still think they are gross, tune in next time for interesting ways to eat them.

Until then, eat healthy, cook quickly, and don’t forget to put the forks on the left when you set the table.

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

16 02 2010

On a night when you have six papers to write and eight finals to study for, frozen food can be a life saver. Meat, potatoes, vegetables – you can easily find a meal in the frozen food section. I do have to warn you though that some frozen food tastes like cardboard and is full of fat. I’ve definitely had my share of bland lasagna, chewy chicken, and hard bread. Upsetting my taste buds (and stomach) has helped me figure out which frozen foods to grab, and which to skip.

My first piece of advice is to buy most of your frozen goods at Trader Joe’s. I’ve discovered that most of their food is healthier and cheaper. Most importantly, it tastes way better than the frozen meatloaf you’ll find at Vons or Ralphs. Frozen fruits and vegetables tend to taste the same wherever you get them though. They are also relatively the same price everywhere, so those are okay to get at a store like Ralphs.

Everyone loves spaghetti, and it’s easy to make with frozen meatballs and canned sauce. Most grocery stores carry both for a decent price. I buy the frozen turkey meatballs (they have less fat) at Trader Joe’s often, and no one who I’ve had them with could tell they were frozen. If you don’t know how to boil water, you can even buy frozen spaghetti noodles.

Frozen meat is great for hectic weeks. Most grocery stores have a variety of sausage in the frozen or refrigerated section that only cost about $4 per package. Chicken sausage is perfect if you want something low in fat. Ground beef or turkey can be eaten several different ways, and isn’t very expensive. It’s perfect in tacos, casserole, or just with rice, and it will hang out in your freezer for a while without going bad. Chicken is also cheap, and there are limitless ways to cook it. You can buy it in bulk or on sale, and throw it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it.

Pre-made, frozen entrees can be a little more difficult to shop for than peas or chicken. Let me warn you that a lot of the food facts will lie to you. Several of them claim they are healthy or delicious, and usually they are neither one. Again, I would recommend making Trader Joe’s your go-to place for frozen entrees. Some of my favorites there are the potstickers, orange chicken, and taquitos. All you have to do to cook them is stick them in the microwave, oven, or a frying pan. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Since none of the food I’ve already mentioned will fill up your second (dessert) stomach, you’ll probably also need to head to the frozen dessert section. Ice cream is not the only thing you’ll find there. I know ice cream is the sixth food group, but sometimes you need something to go with it. Trader Joe’s has a large selection of cakes, tortes, pies, and pretty much any other sugary food you may want. I highly recommend grabbing some cheesecake or pie to reward yourself for acing those midterms.

Need to impress a date, but don’t have the money for a $100 meal? Tune in next time for recipe ideas that will (hopefully) get you a second date without draining your savings account.

Until then, eat healthy, cook quickly, and don’t forget to put your frozen food in the freezer.