Sep 21st, 2018, 02:08 PM

The Basics of Food on a Budget

By Alayna Amrein
Image Credit: Rawpixel/Unsplash
A student's guide to surviving the struggles of budgeting for food.

Some of the glories of being a college student are surviving on zero hours of sleep, living in close quarters, and of course, making your €10 food budget last three weeks. Gone are the days of eating out every night with friends and splurging on every craving for sweet treats. 

Welcome to the college life, where budgeting and economizing are essential in order to make your funds last throughout the year.

Admittedly, this article is by no means exclusive to baking but rather encompasses the idea of making the most of your food budget. Here are some many savings tips so you can get more bang for buck when it comes to the pricey food of Paris:

Long live the baguette. Or not?

Image Credit: Rodolfo Marques/Unsplash

One of the many joys of living in such a bread-based country is enjoying the French mastered art of la baguette. Though they have mastered the flavor, texture, and cost-efficiency of the baguette, they have not managed to invent a baguette that can stay fresh for several days.

Since you want the biggest bang for your buck, you probably buy full baguettes instead of demi-baguettes to last throughout the week. However, after only two days of sitting on the shelf the once pillowy center of the baguette begins to dry and crust. 

How do you combat this? Freeze it. By freezing, you lock the moisture of the mie inside of the baguette. Then, when you are ready to devour you simply let the baguette thaw and reheat it in the oven, saving you from throwing out a half-eaten baguette every two days. 

Leaf, an online food and lifestyle journal, supplies a step by step instructive article on how to preserve your baguette with a freezing method.

If you are already in possession of a stale baguette, try reviving it in the oven by steaming it inside tinfoil. Wonder How To provides a tried-and-tested solution to rejuvenating any stale baguette.

Does that seem like a cup? Alright, let's call it a cup:

Image Credit: Nicolas Gras/Unsplash

Most apartments do not come equipped with kitchen scales, nor do they come with American measuring cups, and buying additional, unneeded cookware only weighs down your wallet. Instead of lugging around a scale for four years or wasting money on overpriced measuring cups, rejoice in the origins of the American measuring system and reach for an actual cup instead.

Find a cup, or even a soup ladle, in your apartment that seems closest in volume to a real, eight-ounce measuring cup. It may take some trial and error to find a cup or ladle that compares in size to a true one-cup measurement, but normally the small, French drinking cups or soup ladles should suffice.

Once the basic one-cup utensil is established, simple division and addition will aid you through any American recipe.

Back to basics:

Image Credit: Gaelle Marcel/Unsplash

Most premade dishes in the frozen food or snack section of the grocery store can be recreated at home from the base of a cost-friendly grain. Pizza, for example, can be made with a simple 5 ingredient dough base. Similarly, cakes and cookies can be made from a batter of fundamental ingredients, most of which may already reside in your cupboards. 

The key ingredients that will be the foundation of most recipes -and should always be in your pantry if you are looking to eat cheaply- are flour and sugar. With some flour, sugar, and a few supplementary ingredients, it is possible to make almost any base, be it savory or sweet. These two ingredients are not only extremely cheap, with a bag of flour from Monoprix weighing in at €0.71 and a bag of sugar at €0.95, but long-lasting, especially if you are eating solo. 

Try out this five-ingredient recipe for pizza dough that costs approximately €0.53 per dough ball. Maybe this simple mug cake will satisfy your sweet tooth and your wallet at €0.25 per cake. Other cost-friendly recipes to try with these two basic ingredients include pancakes, crepes, biscuits, and flatbreads. 

For more money-saving, time-saving, and ingredient-sparing recipes perfect for college students, check out the YouTube channel Mind Over Munch.

Though these tips may not noticeably prevent your bank account from reaching the red, integrating the habits of reducing waste, being resourceful and cooking from home will save you hundreds in the long run. Cooking and baking can be fun and simple and it is a much more enjoyable task when you are assured that your eating habits will not break the bank.