The Grad Student Eating in Style CARNIVAL! Get your recipies HERE!

Nov 01 2010 Published by under Grad Student Eating in Style!, Uncategorized

I have to say I had a rough time organizing this post. So many recipes came in, through all different methods! Comments, emails, TWEETS. Sometimes, I think there are too many forms of communication. And there are SO MANY RECIPES!!! SO MANY! They just kept coming and coming... So I tried to get them all, but I may have missed one or two. Srsly, I blogged it started last WEEK, added more, and then realized I missed some and added EVEN MORE. Hopefully I'm not still missing people

So, let's get started. Are we all in the mood for food?

Sci will admit I actually had to have a snack before putting this thing together, otherwise it was just too tempting!!!

And now, behold! The most delicious, and cheapest, and sometimes even healthiest things the grad blogsphere could put together!! It's a big one, so let's get started.

First off I would like to note a huge list of fine recipes from gourmet people who put them all down at the Guardian! Some look extremely tasty!!!

I began by breaking it down into categories: we've got Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks, Dinner, Desserts, and Ramen. Yes, Ramen NEEDS its own separate category.

I will also note that I included prices where people gave them too me, but many people didn't, and prices vary anyway. The vast majority of cases, though, I KNEW the things involved were pretty cheap, so I can pretty much assure you all the recipes are under $25, and those that are more expensive ALWAYS serve more than one.

Let us begin!


1) Breakfast Sandwich

You will need:
English Muffins or Bagels (I like the high fiber Better Start English Muffins from Thomas, but YMMV)
Cheese of your choice (this morning was basic cheddar)
Eggs (or egg whites)

and a microwave.

Take your egg, crack it into a small (SMALL, like dessert sized) microwave safe bowl. Use a fork and puncture the yolk. Microwave on high for 45s-1min. When it comes out, it will be a cooked egg that is ROUND, like the bottom of the bowl! Fits perfectly on your sandwich. If you’d rather use egg whites, use 3 tbs. and do the same thing.

Cut open your bagel or muffin. Cut a piece of cheese (or use the pre-sliced, whatever, the block is cheaper though). Microwave the bagel halves and the cheese for 30 seconds. Nice, melty cheese! And warm bread. Mmmmm.

Put together. Put the egg in the middle, not the outside (if you laugh at the idea that someone might do this, clearly you have never seen Sci when she is sleep deprived).

Eat it. It’s delicious. It’s breakfast. It’s got loads of protein and will keep you going for the long experiment.

Price breakdown for hungry grad students:

Thomas English Muffins or bagels: can get two sleeves of 6 for $3.99 at Costco, otherwise they are usually around $2.49
Eggs: $2.00
Cheese (cheddar in this case): $3.79

Total: $8.28, makes 6 before you run out of muffins, which is $1.38 per sandwich. Not bad.

2) Scones


* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
* 1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants)
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 1 large egg


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins. (THIS IS THE KEY! My scones always came out lumpy and weird prior to this. It’s AMAZING.)

3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)

5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sci’s modifications

First off, I don’t like raisins or currents. Bleh. So my first batch was blueberry. I subbed in 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (the recipe says dried, I saw screw that nonsense). Results: delicious, and a bit more moist than I think they would be otherwise.

Secondly, I always use whole grain flour. This is a matter of preference and you certainly don’t have to. I happen to like whole grain better is all. IF you use whole grain, you will need a little extra moisture. I used a little extra sour cream, and, where necessary, a dab of water (like a tablespoon).

Thirdly, I tried for the cherry/almond modification they mention in the link for a second batch. Add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, and sub in 1/2 cup dried cherries. Next time, I’m going fresh cherries. You could also do vanilla with this if you wanted.

Finally, my piece de resistance: Cinnamon chocolate chip. Oh yes. I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon and about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (ok, it was 3/4 of a cup, but I bet you’d go overboard too!). Result: BRILLIANT!!!! Best scones ever. Maybe a little more cinnamon next time (like two teaspoons).

Price breakdown for the hungry grad student:

Flour: $2.99
Eggs: $2.00
Baking powder: $1.70
Baking soda: $1.00 (this is on the high side for a small box, put the rest in your fridge to ward off odors)
Sour cream: $2.00
Salt: $0.89 for a large one (if you don’t have some of this around, I cannot help you)
Butter (you need a whole stick,, unsalted): $4.75
Chocolate chips (probably the cheapest): $3.85
Cinnamon: $1.29

Total cost: $20.47. But these ingredients will make at least four batches before the butter runs out and you have to make more, so that’s roughly a little over $5 per batch, and each batch makes 8. That’s one scone per day at less than $1 a day. That is grad student WIN right there.

32 scones for $20.47. Beat that, Starbucks!

3) British Flapjacks!

An fun creative idea form the shortearedowl, I had no idea you made flapjacks with oats! Shows what I know.

1/4 pound of "Old Fashioned" style oats

3/4 pound of quick/1 minute oats

1/4 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 sticks butter

Bits 'n' bobs (optional)
- eg. chocolate chips, raisins, cherries, coconut, ginger

Melt sugar and butter together on low heat. Put oats (and bits 'n' bobs) in a big-ass mixing bowl, pour over sugar-butter, and mix with a proper wooden spoon (you can try other types of spoons, but bending will be an issue). Slap whole lot into pre-buttered baking tray (should be about 1.5 - 2 inches deep) and press down firmly and evenly (otherwise they fall apart). Bake for 25ish minutes at 350 F.

The original recipe calls for golden syrup, which doesn't seem to be available here, and I assume will be really expensive if it's imported from the UK. I think I've got the corn syrup - brown sugar mix right now, but if they still fall apart, try adding more sugar, or even substituting all syrup for sugar. Or add chocolate :).

4) French toast
From Joe.

3-4 slices of stale (not moldy) bread
oil, butter, margarine or cooking spray
2 eggs
a splash of milk (or soy/rice/etc milk)
(optional) a splash of vanilla extract
(optional) a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg

Heat the pan over medium heat.
In a container with a flat bottom that'll fit the slices of bread (I use an 8x8 pan, but when in school, would use a pot for this (as it doubled as my mixing bowl), scramble the eggs. Use a fork, as it sucks to clean wisks, and you're not trying to get air into this anyway.
Add a splash of milk (um ... a couple of tablespoons?), the optional flavorings, and mix thoroughly.
Dip the bread in the custard, flip over, then let it soak in there while you oil the pan.
If the bread's particularly thick (and not rock hard stale, or it'll break), poke it with your fork to give the custard some path to soak in.
Carefully lift the bread out of the soaking container and into the hot pan.
If you have a lot of custard left, toss in another piece of bread; if just a little, after the bread's been on the pan for a little bit, pour it over the bread in the pan to let it soak in.
Once the bottom's browned, flip over, and let the other side cook.

Great plain, with syrup or honey, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar (see above) or fruit ... bananas, peaches (fresh, canned, or jarred), or apple sauce.

5) Home Fries

Also from Joe, who gave me a LOT to work with.

1 medium baked potato
some onion (maybe 1/4 of a medium onion?)
some bell pepper (maybe 1/4 to 1/2 of one, whatever color you like)
'seasoned' salt (or adobo, or similar salt / spice blend)
oil for the pan.

If I'm baking potatoes, I'll bake a few extra, wrap 'em in foil, then stash them in the fridge for breakfasts for the coming week. It's important for this that the potatoes already be cooked.

Heat a large pan over medium to medium-high heat. (note -- it needs to be able to fit the food in a single layer, with room to spare, or you won't get a crispy exterior on the potatoes)
Cut the potato into easily bite-sized chunks, maybe 1/2" to 3/4" per side.
Add oil to the pan, and let it heat up 'til it shimmers.
Add the potato chunks to the hot oil, and don't touch it.
Sprinkle with the seasoned salt.
While the potatoes are browning, chop up the onion and pepper into chunks about the size of the potato chunks.
Flip the potato bits over, making sure that you have brown sides up.
Add the onion around the sides of the pan, or nestle in where you can.
After a minute or so, add in the peppers.
Once the second side of the potatoes are browned, mix the whole thing together, and cook 'til the onions and peppers are cooked how you like them.

Modification: HASH

(one batch of ingredients for home fries)
Some meat product (sausage, ham, leftover beef from london broil or fajitas, etc.)
(optional)1-2 eggs

If using raw sausage, start that cooking first, and use that grease for cooking the home fries, but leave out the seasoned salt.
Otherwise, start the home fries as above, but also add meat with the onions and peppers to warm through. If using something salty (kielbasa or other sausage, country ham), omit the seasoned salt.

(optional), break a couple of eggs into it when it's almost done, and scramble them in.

6) Crock Pot Sweet Survival
From Aek, but I named it myself, as Aek doesn't name things. And it does sound like Sweet Survival.

Turn crockpot on medium or high.
1 cup baby carrots or two to three regular carrots coarsely chopped ($1/2#)
2 medium to large sweet potatoes cut into 1" or greater slices (skin on) ($1/2#)
1 oz raisins ($2.99/24 oz)
2-3 large apples (for baking/eating, such as MacIntoshes, MacOuns, Ginger Golds, Rome, Cortland, Sun Crisp, Northern Spy, Paula Red) (6/$1)
2-3 pears (bosc, seckel, bartlett) ($1/1#)
liberal sprinkling over all with pumpkin pie spice ($1.99/1 oz bottle Trader Joe's)
5-6 figs ($1/pint)

Simmer until apples and pears release juices.
Stir occasionally.

The aroma will be intoxicating.

If desired, top with plain or vanilla yogurt or cream.

Lunch and snacks!!

There were some brilliant ideas in here for snacks, I'm going to start out with my personal favorite, mostly because of the name.

1) Hobbit Food!
This one comes to you from Jake. He may be past grad school, but this idea sounds just as tasty!

Warning: Includes the magic ingredient bacon and therefore may be addictive.

Hobbit Food (Mushrooms and bacon on toast) -- so named from the Fellowship hobbits' last meal in the Shire at Crickhollow. Can be breakfast, lunch or dinner, but I like it best on a chilly fall evening after a good brisk walk. It's very quick and simple to prepare.

For each generous serving:
- 2 slices toast (I prefer good whole wheat)
- 3 or 4 strips good smoky bacon, sliced crosswise in 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/2 lb. (8 oz.) mushrooms of your choice, wiped clean and sliced thinly
- a good grinding of fresh black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. dried basil

While bread is toasting, sauté the bacon in a small skillet until almost (but not quite) crisp. Then add the sliced mushrooms and continue sautéing, stirring frequently, just until the mushrooms begin to release their juices. Remove from heat, add black pepper and basil, stir, and spread over the toast.

Enjoy! You'll understand why it was a favorite meal of the hobbits.

- a loaf of decent whole wheat bread is about $3, but you only need 2 slices per portion, and you were going to buy bread for sandwiches anyway. Figure 20 slices to a loaf, so $.30 for 2 slices.
- decent bacon is about $3.50 -$4.00/ lb. Bacon *never* goes to waste. Again, about 20 slices per pound, so $.70 - $.80 per portion.
- mushrooms run about $2.50 per half pound, but seem to go on sale about once a month.

So, if you've got the seasonings on hand, you're talking about $3.50 to $3.60 per yummy, satisfying serving.

- wheat bread - approx. 55 calories/slice = 110
- bacon - approx. 48 calories/slice = 144 to 192
- mushrooms - approx. 40 calories/half-pound = 40
Total calories - approx. 284 to 332 per portion.

Bonus shopping tips for grad students:
- Watch for 3 lb. packages of "Bacon ends and pieces" in the supermarket, they're not as pretty looking, but are way cheaper and taste the same as the standard package of slices. You can divide the package up and freeze parts of it in zip-lock bags to make it last.

2) Apples, or anything else, really, and peanut butter.

From Joe. Cause peanut butter goes with everything!!!

1 Firm apple. (I like Granny Smith)
1 glob of peanut butter.

Place peanut butter into bowl. Cut up an apple into slices. Use apple slices to scoop up the peanut butter & eat.

note : can substitute celery for apple, if you're doing the low-carb thing

And my normal slicing method for apples for this preparation -- set the blossom end on the cutting board; Cut through the middle. Turn 90 degrees, cut into quarters. Place a quarter down on a cut face; cut at a 45 degree angle to remove the core. Slice into similar sized bits, from stem end to blossom end. (3-5 slices per quarter, depending on the size of the apple. Repeat for other quarters.

3) Combinations of Chips and Salsa
Also from Joe, who recommends combining them also with heated beans, and possibly in a nacho-like manner. Sci recommends and addition of sour cream and jalapenos for added deliciousness.

4) Bagel pizza!

From Joe. The usefulness of this snack during late-night qual studying cannot be overemphasized.

You need:
An english muffin, naan, pita, or other flat bread product.
A couple spoonfuls of tomato sauce.
Some provolone or mozzarella cheese.
Anything you'd put on a pizza

If using an english muffin, split it open. Smear bread with tomato sauce. Add whatever toppings you have. Cover with cheese. Toast (or microwave) 'til bubbly. Let cool before eating.

4) Chickpea Salad with Red onion and mustard greens:
From Sarconza, this one doesn't have prices, but could be cheap if you've got a good farmer's market.

* 1 Tbsp lemon juice
* 1Tbsp red wine vinegar
* 2 tsp olive oil
* 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* a can of chickpeas
* about 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced mustard greens
* 1 small red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings

In a smallish bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, and mustard. Stir in garlic and orgeano. Put the chickpeas, mustard greens and onion into a medium bowl. Add the dressing and toss well.

Dinner was where we had the most entries by far, and really so much of what you make for dinner can be repurposed as leftovers for lunch! There's some brilliant ideas that follow, so make sure you bookmark these:

Soups and Stews

1) Soup
Our first soup entry comes from Primate of Modern Aspect.

First, Their SOUP TIPS! So useful!

It’s okay to use bouillon cubes. These are pretty much just dried cubes of broth, and they stay good forever. You can buy boxes of broth, too, but those are more expensive and I often find that the taste is kind of… meh. The taste is unmistakably “canned soup,” whereas the bouillon cubes are a more neutral backdrop. You can also save all of your bones from everything (well… since we’re dealing with anthro people, best not use your people bones…) and keep them in your freezer, but I don’t eat meat enough to accumulate enough soup base. So use bouillon cubes.

Now that you’ve got your bouillon cubes, you can spice them up. Get some herbs and spices. I’ve got a few that I keep around the apartment as houseplants, and they cost about $3.99. I usually make a “bouquet garni” out of a sprig of rosemary, some thyme, and a bay leaf. You throw these in and then fish them out before serving. It sounds fancy, and it tastes fancy, but it’s really not hard or fussy at all. If you don’t have a green thumb, you can buy these herbs dried for anywhere from $1.99 and up, or omit them if you must.

Last week I bought a bunch of “cheese rinds for soup” for 2 bucks. I think it adds some depth of flavor, but I’m not really sure. I haven’t done any double blind randomized control studies.

And now Mushroom Barley Soup.

You will need:5 Bouillon cubes, one smallish onion, one or two cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup pearl barley, and about a pound of mushrooms. You can choose your mushrooms to suit your tastes, but I use one package of cremini (which are actually small portabellos!) and a few shitake out of the bulk section, just for variety. If you want, you can use cheapie button mushrooms.

1. First, chop up an onion and a clove of garlic or two and sautee until translucent and aromatic.
2. In the meantime, bring a pot of about 5 cups of water to a boil. Add five bouillon cubes. I use beef, but you can use chicken or vegetable. Throw in your aromatic herbs, if using.
3. Add your 1/2 cup barley. This will need to boil for about 35-40 minutes, and will swell to about 4 times its original volume.
4. Add the onions to your broth.
5. Slice your mushrooms and then sautee until they’re giving off some liquid. Add to the pot.
6. Walk away for about 30 minutes. You can use this time to toast a nice crusty french bread with some cheese on it if you want, or make a nice salad, or watch an episode of Futurama. When you come back to your soup, check to make sure the barley is done. When it is, enjoy!

Price breakdown:

* Bouillon cubes are $1.99 for a jar of 25. You’ll be using $.40 worth of bouillon for this recipe.
* My onion cost $.39, but your price may vary. I’ll round up to $1.
* A bulb of garlic cost me $.42. Again, I’ll round up to a dollar.
* Mushrooms will also vary based on how which variety you get. My creminis cost $3.99, and I got $.78 worth of shitake. Total mushroom cost: $5.
* Barley is about $1 for a bag, and you’ll only be using 1/2 cup. That’s $.25 cents worth of barley.

Total for stocking up on essentials: $10. This pot of soup cost me $7.04 to make, and will feed me 4 or 5 times, so about $1.75-$2 per serving. Pack it up and take it to school for lunch, or just keep it at home for a good, hearty dinner after a day of lab work.

Make sure to visit the post, where they are more excellent tips!

2) Beef Pot Roast

Well, it's sort of a stew! It's looks delicious.

This one is courtesy of C6H12O6 (great blog title!)

Would love a variation on this, as Sci does not have a slow cooker...

You can add chopped onion to the mix if you like, but I find it flavorful enough without it. I also make a variant of this occasionally with apples and cinnamon instead of zucchini and spinach, if you want something very slightly sweet.

~2 lb beef roast (I prefer bottom round.) [Depending on size and cut, anywhere from $5-$10]
1 zucchini squash [~$1.00]
4-6 red potatoes [~$0.80]
2 big handfuls of baby spinach [$2.40 for 1 bag]
1 14 oz. can beef broth [$0.75]
salt, pepper, and basil

Total cost: $10 to $15 for 4-6 servings.

Line the bottom of your slow cooker with the baby spinach, then chop the zucchini into thick slices and quarter the red potatoes, then add to the pot. Put the roast on top, pour in the broth and then season the meat to taste with the salt, pepper, and basil. Cook on high heat for at least six hours.

3) Cauliflower and celery soup
From Socal! This one looks tasty and full of nutrition, and cauliflower is astonishingly cheap.

4 ribs of celery
1 cauliflower
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
2 small to medium potatoes (or 1 large)
2 cups chicken stock (I use sachets from Trader Joes)
2 bay leaves
~1 cup milk (I splooshed it in when I made this and didn't measure it)
1/4 cup cream (optional)

Makes 4 servings

Chop the onion and celery and fry with a small amount of butter or oil in a large pot until soft. Add the potato (chopped into ~o.5 inch cubes) and crushed garlic and fry for a few minutes more. Add the stock, bay leaves and some black pepper, cover and simmer for 20 mins. Add about a cup more water with the chopped cauliflower, re-cover and simmer for another 20 minutes until the vegetables are all soft. Remove the bay leaves, add some of the milk then liquidise the soup in a blender (or with a hand-held thingy). Return to the pot and add more milk or water to thin as necessary. To make it a bit more luxurious, stir in some cream.

Cost: cauliflowers in season cost $2 - $3; the other vegetables cost maybe another $2, the stock sachets and milk about $1. A jar of bay leaves is probably quite expensive, but I use them often in soups and stews so they are a good store-cupboard item. Total cost for 4 servings: ~$5.50

4) Suffrin' Succa-Soup!
Can't beat the name!! From neuromusic.

(1) box of Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper Soup $3
(1) bag of TJ's Soycutash $3

1. Place soup with soycutash in medium sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Stir to make sure it doesn't stick.
3. Wait for it to bubble a bit.
4. Serve.
5. Add Sriracha to taste.

5) Savory Lentil Spinach Soup.
This one sounds so delicious I'm going to have to try it myself! From Aek.

It's chilly. You're starving. You only have about five minutes to prep something in the few minutes before you head to the lab. Here's your reward when you return:

Savory lentil spinach soup. 6-8 servings/ recipe can be doubled

1/2 #1 bag lentils ($1/bag)
12 baby carrots or 2 regular carrots, coarsely chopped ($1/ 16 oz bag baby carrots)
2-3 ribs celery coarsely chopped ($1/2 bunches)
2 yellow or red onions chopped ($1/#2 bag)
8 cups water
1 teaspoon garlic salt ($.88/bottle at major retail pharmacy chain)
1/2 teaspoon oregano (ditto)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin ($2.99/2 oz bottle)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper ($1.99/bottle of peppercorns with mill Trader Joe's)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes ($.88/bottle at major retail pharmacy chain)
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil ($6.99/32 oz bottle)

Place all ingredients in large crockpot turned to low. Allow to simmer up to twelve hours. Add 3-6 cups spinach ($2/#2 bag) 1/2 hour before serving (just long enough to cook down and release juice).

Be forewarned - the herbs and spices will release an aroma that you won't be able to resist. This soup gets richer and better with reheating.

6) Black bean Soup with HOMEMADE BREAD.
This one comes to us from a charming undergrad who bakes her OWN BREAD. To say I'm impressed doesn't even begin to cover it.

I make my own bread. It takes about 20 minutes of work, and a few hours later you pop it in the oven for the most delish smell evar. It's not nearly as intimidating as it sounds, either.

Plus, kneading will give you the workout you need from sitting around reading journals and playing on the internet. Whee!

Recipe as follows:

3 cups all-purpose enriched unbleached flour (I cut a cup of the white out and substitute it with a cup of whole wheat, but you don't have to) (about $3-$4 for a 5 lb bag, which is about 20 cups, which comes out to about $.60 per loaf)
1 teaspoon yeast (that's about half a packet which is around $3 locally for a 3-pack)(I get it by the jar, since I do this all the time - a jar, which is about 20 loaves of bread, comes out to about $8)
1 teaspoon salt (I assume you have this on hand)
About 2 tablespoons sugar or honey (honey tastes better to me - I get the local kind for $5 a bear - an indulgence, but I'm spoiled with my tea)
1 cup warm milk (2.99 a gal... so... not much)
2 tablespoons butter, margarine, olive oil, shortening, etc - ie, whatever cooking fat you have handy (prices may vary)

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients. Use a big spoon to get everything incorporated until it becomes doughy. If it's a little dry and isn't coming together, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup lukewarm water.

Then the fun begins.

Sprinkle your counter/table/especially clean floor (don't laugh, I've done it when I had 2 square feet of counter space!) with flour, and knead. Really take out your aggression into it. Fail a midterm? The bread doesn't mind. Your advisor acting like a jerk? Give it to the dough. You get the point. Knead for about 10 minutes - the final dough should be smooth and a ball.

My favorite dinner: Bean Soup and Bread. Cheap, hearty, and usually lasts 3 or 4 meals (I end up freezing bean soup for when I really. Don't. Want. To cook.)

I know that usually people are like, "let the bread rise for a few hours in a warm place". I can't afford a warm place, usually. And, I do this in the morning, so I don't usually have the chance to be back in a few hours. I stick it in the coldest part of my drafty kitchen. It rises, just way more slowly. I go to classes, lab and then home - I'm gone for about 6 hours. The dough at this point has about doubled in size. Which is what you want.

I get home, take the loaf of bread, squish it a bit, and put it on a floured cookie sheet (someday I'll own a loaf pan!) and let it rise again. I turn the oven on to 350F so it'll preheat, and to warm up my freezing kitchen so the bread rises a little faster. I've got a big enough stove that my cookie sheet sits on the back burner to warm up faster and rise faster. I get going on the bean soup.

1 1/2 lbs dried beans (your choice - I generally get a mix of white, black, pinto and kidney. (depending on the beans, and whether you buy in bulk or not, you can get them for about $2 or so.
a cup or two of rice, if you like (um... $.75, maybe?)
1 lb Ground meat (if you want)(I get ground beef - $2.99/lb)
1 can tomato paste ($.79)
1 can diced tomatoes ($.89)(I use the store brand for these)
a few cloves of garlic (I get garlic cloves for about $.35 at my local supermarket)
half an onion, diced (about $.69 a pound)
Spices - I use basil, oregano, sage, cumin, savory, thyme, and marjoram - use what you've got on hand, though. Usual disclaimer about expensive spices and whatnot.

Soak your beans overnight. Really. I mean it. You will stink up the lab if you do not. People will be angry. You will be either embarrassed or proud, depending on your maturity level, but do everyone around you a favor. Soak your beans. Rinse them off before you use them, but they can soak a while. Just not more than a day or two, or they become bean sprouts.

Rinse your beans. Put them in a pot and cover them with water, plus an inch or so. Boil those beans for about half an hour - 45 minutes - until they're soft. DO NOT ADD SALT WHILE BOILING. I learned this the hard way. Salt makes beans hard. Trufax.

While the beans are boiling, get your meat fried out, do the dishes, check your Facebook, and clear off your desk for the next bout of studying.

Beans are soft? Great. Throw everything else in. Meat, spices - you can salt now. I add the rice here, too, and if I'm feeling inspired and health-conscious (and have it around) I'll throw in frozen veggies of some sort. Simmer for about an hour, making sure that there's enough water to completely cover the beans. Your bread should be ready to go in the oven now.

Bread goes in for about 45 minutes @ 350, give or take. I check it at 35 - either way, it should be golden brown on top, and thump like it's hollow when its done.

Let it sit for a few minutes before you cut into it - the longer it sits, the softer it gets. Then, when you can't stand it, eat. The loaf of bread will keep for up to a week, but it starts to go stale after about 3 days at my house. Which gives me an excuse to make french toast. Cooking times vary for climate.

I know the whole things sounds labor intensive, but it's not. it's about $10 for the bread ingredients, but about $1.25 per loaf. Maybe $9 for the soup, but it comes out to a few meals, so a meal price would be about $3.25 or so.


1) Stuffed Cabbage
This one's from me, and a good one for the winter months. It really only takes 30 min, and then you sit back for an hour while it cooks!

This makes cabbage delicious. And the secret of cabbage? Cabbage is CHEAP. Really cheap. I saw a 20lb dutch flat once at the farmer’s market. TWENTY POUNDS. And it was $10. That’s a LOT of cabbage. You won’t need that much.

You will need:
1 Medium Cabbage
1 egg
1 thingy of ground turkey
2 tomatoes
1 large onion
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp ground savory
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 jar marinara sauce

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thaw the turkey if it’s been frozen.

2) Take a large pot and bring a good bit of water to a boil (enough to cover your cabbage).

3) Cut off the base of your cabbage, and using a knife, take out the hard core center.

4) Dump the cabbage in the boiling water. Have two forks at the ready.

5) After a minute or two, the outer leaves of the cabbage will start to soften. Using the forks, carefully pry the leaves loose and set them aside on a cutting board or paper towels or something. As far as fork usage goes, the gestures you want parallel pretty closely to how you get thin cryostat slices onto slides. Only a lot bigger.

6) Keep doing this until all the large leaves are off. It won’t take long. Leaves the size of your hand or larger are what you want. Once they get smaller than that, take the rest of the cabbage out of the boiling water, and chop it up fine. You’ll want more than 12 usable cabbage leaves.

7) Set aside your 12 finest leaves. Use the rest to line the bottom of a large baking dish. I like Pyrex.

8) Now, take your ground turkey, and mix it in a bowl with your onion (chopped fine), your tomatoes (chopped), your egg (obviously cracked), the extra cabbage you chopped up, and your spices. I recommend using your hands and having fun getting all goopy with the kneading.

9) Once everything is mixed, take your 12 best leaves. Fill each leaf with a small handful of your meaty mixture. Fold your leaves so they look like nice little pockets, and nestle them against each other in the cabbage-lined baking dish.

10) Once all your mixture and leaves are gone, taking the jar of marinara sauce and pour it generously over the cabbage rolls. I usually use about half the jar.

11) Put the whole thing in the oven and bake for 1 hour.

12) OM NOM NOM. You’ll make 12. I find two to be good for dinner, and you can bring 1 per day for lunch as well. Really it’ll help feed you for about a week.

Now, this is Sci’s personal recipe. Usually these things involve rice, but at the time I had been eating a TON of rice (as poor grad students do), and was tired of it). So they are meaty, but the extra cabbage adds a little crunch that is nice. In addtion, I use turkey instead of beef (you can use beef), because I’m a health nut like that. The lazy part is because I don’t make my own tomato sauce. Nobody’s perfect.

Price Breakdown for the Hungry Grad Student:
Cabbage: usually less than $0.70/lb, I usually end up spending about $3-$4 on a cabbage
Tomatoes: $3
Onion: $0.50
Eggs: $2.00 a dozen or so
Spices: these are more expensive, but it’s GREAT to have them around. I use rosemary in everything. They will run you around $4 per.
Marinara: get the cheap kind $2

Total: $11.50 if you have all the spices, add another $10-20 if you need to buy more spices, but once you’ve got them, you’re good to go.

2) Okonomiyaki

Another one from yours truly, I recommend this one with friends because it's fun to fry your own!

Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake from Japan. It’s super easy to make (at least, by my recipe, which isn’t what everyone else does), really tasty, filling, and a fun thing to make together with friends.

You will need:
2 eggs
2 cups flour (I use whole grain, but most people use regular)
1 cup of water
Shredded cabbage
Shredded imitation crab meat (optional)
Tonkatsu Sauce (I’ll cover this in a minute)
Mayonnaise (optional)
Pan spray
Fish flakes (optional)

Take the two eggs and the flour and the water. Beat them together until you’ve got a nice smooth batter. Mix in your shredded cabbage, a good few handfuls (this one is really something you throw together, I really like more cabbage, but opinions vary). Spray down a small nonstick frying pan, and put a small glop of your dough in there (I like my stove med to med-high). Flatten out your glop with a spatula (use a plastic one if you have one, the metal ones get REALLY goopy). Add your crap meat on top. Make like a pancake, flipping over until it’s all done and nice and brown.

Serve with Tonkatsu sauce and mayonnaise.

NOTE: DO NOT let your pancake get too thick! You’ll have the worst time getting it to cook all the way through.

Price Breakdown for the Hungry Grad Student:
(someone pointed out to me by email that prices are highly relative, and the dude is probably right. That said, I can still do something approximate, to give you an idea as to how much this makes for a rough price.)
Eggs: $2.00
Flour: $2.99 for a large amount
Cabbage (pre-shredded): $2.69 or so for a bag of the stuff. You get enough to make two full batches of this easy.
Fake crab meat: $1.74
Tonkatsu sauce: $4.69, but you’ll use it forever
Mayonnaise: $2.99 for a bunch of it (I always skip the mayo)
Pan spray: $3.99 (you’ll use it forever)

Total: $21.09, less if you skip the mayo. The recipe serves 4 pancakes, but if you buy everything fresh you will have enough for two recipes worth, so that’s $21.09 for 8 cakes. Not so bad!

3) Harissa

This one comes to us from Mokawi, who got it in turn from a roommate. Apparently harissa is an aphrodisiac? I mean, the recipe DOES sound good...

You need:

- eggs (2 or 3 for me)
- tuna in olive oil (Which you need to buy in large cans, ideally the kind they import from Tunisia or Italy. It's an investment, but never goes bad, and it's a lot tastier)
- olive oil (any kind of first press will do)
- harissa in a can (not in a tube: for some reason it tastes totally different. Besides, it's much cheaper in a can)
- large pita breads (but any bread can do – in fact, portuguese "bijoux", which are really cheap here in Montréal, can be argued to taste even better)

Put oil in a pan, about a quarter of an inch deep (yes, it's a lot. but a true grad will keep the oil for a few days, and cook many eggs in it). Heat it, then drop the eggs, and fry them until the white is all cooked, but the yellow is still liquid. Serve it in a plate with tuna (ideally, there should be as much tuna as there are eggs) and a generous spoon of harissa. Warm up your oven, then put the pita inside for about 10 seconds. To eat, take a piece of pita and use it to grab a bit of tuna, egg and harissa. Enjoy!

A sound choice of tuna and harissa is essential in this. If your tuna doesn't taste like meat (i.e. it tastes like the usual clover leaf thing), then you might want to find better tuna (or simply go for the regular dollar store tuna, which is cheaper). Likewise, harissa should taste more than merely being a hot sauce; it should have a distinctive taste (I want to say a "metallic" taste, but that's not exactly it. Connoisseurs will know what I'm talking about).

The price?

2 eggs: 50¢
tuna (100g): 1$
harissa: 10¢
olive oil: 5¢
pita: 20¢
Total: 1.85 $

4) Bistro style Mussels!
From Dr. Becca! These mussels sound so high class, I was shocked they were so cheap!!!

Ingredients for 2 people:

2 lb live mussels ($5)
3 Tbs flour or cornmeal ($0.0003)
2 Tbs unsalted butter ($0.25)
2 medium-sized shallots, chopped ($0.75)
2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.10)
1 cup inexpensive dry white wine (let's just say you're going to drink the rest, so $9 for the bottle)
1 baguette ($2)
1 Tbs chopped parsley ($0.79 a bunch)

total: $17.7903, including booze!

Take a big bowl and fill it with very cold water. Add the flour or cornmeal, dump in the mussels, and let it all sit for an hour or so. This does a couple of things for you: 1) the mussels should close up when they sit in cold water, so any that don't close are probably dead and you shouldn't eat them. 2) The mussels will eat the flour or cornmeal and spit out any yuckiness they may have inside their shells, so they will be delicious-tasting, and also nice and plump!

Once the mussels are soaking, chop your shallots, garlic, and parsley. This won't take very long, and you still have a little while to wait, so you may as well go ahead and open that bottle of wine. Enjoy a glass while you read or surf the internets, but be sure to save a little for your mussels! Just before you start cooking, throw the baguette in the oven on 250 to warm it up a little.

Get the widest pot or pan you have whose sides are at least 2-inches high and that has a lid. Melt the butter in it on medium-high, add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, until the shallots have softened, maybe 2-3 minutes. Don't let anything burn! Add the wine, toss in a little salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Dump out the mussels water into the sink, and give them a quick rinse to get the flour/cornmeal off. Add them to the pot, cover, and wait for the magic to happen, about 5-6 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally (think Jiffy Pop, but with mollusks!).

When the mussels are open, use a slotted spoon to put them into a large bowl. Toss any that didn't open into the trash, because they were probably dead to begin with. Pour all the delicious buttery, shalloty, juice from the pan on top of the mussels, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with your nice warm baguette, which is great for soaking up extra juices! Yummmmmmmm!

5) chiles rellenos casserole
From Fizzchick!

Quantities are flexible, as are spices, but the lime zest really makes it pop, so don't skip that. It might sound a bit complicated, but honestly, everything except the peppers should be a pantry staple. If you don't have jiffy mix or don't want the lard it contains (for a vegetarian dish), I'd use 1/3 c. cornmeal to about 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. With stuff on hand, this takes less than half an hour to prep, and another half hour to bake. It's yummy for dinner and lunch the next day.

~1 c leftover cooked white rice
1 can black beans
1 can tomatoes
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
1-2 oz cheese, diced (sharp cheddar or monterey jack is probably best)
zest and juice of 1 lime
cumin, epazote (Mexican oregano), thyme, s+p, hot sauce (opt.) to taste

4 poblanos (the large flattened dark green, mildly spicy ones); if you can't find fresh, get the whole canned ones, drain and rinse them. But fresh is best. You might be better off with more hot sauce and go for regular bell peppers, if you can't find poblanos.

1 egg
1/4 c. milk
1/3 box Jiffy cornbread mix, or substitute (see headnote)

Another 1 oz cheese, shredded

Saute alliums (onion and garlic) in olive oil until lightly browned. Mix with other filling ingredients in large bowl (drain the beans first). Add spices to taste.

Core and deseed the poblanos, and slit them down the side. Stuff with filling - you'll have lots leftover. Put the remaining filling in an 8x8 or similar baking dish. Nestle the stuffed peppers on top.

In the same bowl you used for filling, mix egg, milk, and cornbread mix. Add Jiffy mix/cornmeal or milk until you have thick pancake batter texture, and pour over the peppers. Top with shredded cheese and paprika, and bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Makes 4 servings.

Cost: (generously estimated, since you're using subunits of stuff I keep on hand in large quantities)
rice: $0.50
beans: $1
tomatoes: $1
onion and garlic: $1
cheese: $1
lime: $0.50
Jiffy mix: $1
egg and milk: $0.50
peppers: They're 4/$1 at my farmers market right now, but out of season you might need canned ones, so say $2
oil and spices: $0.50

So $9-10/4 servings = <$2.50 for dinner.

Calories etc.: No idea, but the only fat is a bit from the oil and cheese, plus the egg. You can use minimal oil and less cheese if you want to keep it down. If you get the no-salt added tomatoes and make your own jiffy mix, this will be nearly as low in sodium as you want it to be. You get a complete protein from the rice and beans, and there's tomatoes and peppers for veggies. All in all, pretty healthy, definitely filling, and yummy.

6) Macaroni with Sausage, meat, and carrots!
This one is from Astrid, and sounds so lovely and filling!

You will need:

* 225gr. good sausages (the herbier and spicier, the better)
* 1 tablespoon oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 3 carrots, grated
* 1 can of chopped tomatoes
* 1 small can of tomato purée
* 110ml chicken or beef stock
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 350g macaroni or other pasta
* 75g grated parmesan or mature cheddar
* Seasoning to taste (chilli might be fun – be creative)

Make it!

1. Slit down the side of the sausages and remove the meat – I’m aware that you can buy sausage meat loose, or pork mince might do, but there are so many nicely flavoured sausages out there (and they are CHEAP)
2. Heat the oil and cook the onion gently until translucent
3. Add the sausagemeat and lightly brown, breaking it up with a spatula
4. Add the carrots, tomatoes and tomato purée, stock, bay leaf and oregano and cook covered over a low heat for 30 min
5. Taste for seasoning. You may decide you want it to be garlicky, or super spicy, or whatever. The joy of cooking it that you can always make it the hell up
6. Cook and drain the pasta and mix with the sauce
7. Serve with the grated cheese, baby

7) Pad Thai.
I got several possible recipes for this, and went with the one from Fizzchick, because it seemed fairly true to form, and didn't involve Ramen.

1/2 box rice noodles ($3/box, or less if you can find a good Asian market in your town. Get the wide kind.)
veggies to taste: scallions, onion, carrots, snow peas, peppers, green beans, broccoli are all good (say $2 of veggies)
2 eggs ($2/dozen)
lime ($0.50) or the bottled juice, if you must
more protein - optional, but filling ($1/package for tofu up to $4-5 for a half pound of shrimp, if you're feeling spiffy)
peanut butter ($2/jar)
hot sauce ($2/bottle)
mirin ($3/bottle - this is Japanese sweetened rice wine for cooking)
oil ($3/bottle - veggie or peanut is preferable to olive)
soy sauce and/or fish sauce ($3/bottle)
rice vinegar ($3/bottle)

If you're doing an additional protein, saute it until cooked in a little oil. Remove from the pan, then use the same pan to saute the veggies. Chopped thin, so they cook fast, is good - a wok is even better, but a regular nonstick frying pan works too. If you're using eggs, beat them, add to the veggies in the pan and scramble.

Follow the package directions on the rice noodles. Generally it says boil them 5 minutes or until tender, then drain and rinse. Every once in a while I find a package that claims you can soak them in a bowl of just-boiled water, but I always end up with crunchy noodles if I try it.

In a separate bowl, mix PB, mirin, fish sauce, and lime juice. Add hot sauce and taste. I always have to adjust the balance, so I don't have quantities, but for a half box (half pound?) of noodles, I usually use about 2/3 c. PB and go from there - I prefer lots of lime and rice vinegar, and easy on the sodium (soy/fish sauces). Sometimes I add a pinch of brown sugar if the sweet/sour balance is still off.

If you're using a wok, add the protein back to the pan to heat through. Stir in the noodles (rinse right before you add them if they're sticky) and dump the sauce on top. Mix it all together. If you don't have a wok, mix in whichever's bigger, your frying pan or your noodle pot. Serve and top with scallions and chopped herbs, if you want (I hate cilantro, but I use thai basil and parsley if they're convenient). Makes 1 dinner+2 lunches, generally. I consider everything from PB on down a pantry staple that lasts forever, (see the next recipe) so even if I splurge on $3 of veggies and do tofu and eggs, this is ~$6 for 3 meals.

8) Bibimbap

This is a Korean dish that gets served in a big stone bowl which continues cooking the food while you eat. Version from Fizzchick.

1 1/2 c. sticky rice ($0.50)
cabbage ($0.50 worth)
2 carrots ($0.50)
onion ($0.50)
other veggies: peppers, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, anything from the pad thai list is good ($2)
3 eggs ($2/dozen)
hot sauce ($2/bottle)
mirin ($3/bottle - this is Japanese sweetened rice wine for cooking)
oil ($3/bottle - veggie or peanut is preferable to olive)
soy sauce and/or fish sauce ($3/bottle)
rice vinegar ($3/bottle)
sesame oil ($3/bottle)
sesame seeds, seaweed flakes, rice seasoning (optional, but fun - $2 each for a bunch, I think)

Cook the sticky rice according to directions (you can use plain short grain white rice, but sticky rice makes this super yummy). In a large pan, saute your veggies in the appropriate order to desired doneness. Sometimes I add minced ginger with the sauteed veggies, but this is totally optional. Dump the veggies out of the pan, add a bit more oil, and cook 3 eggs sunny side up. Serve immediately, with a pile of rice, a bunch of veggies, and the egg on top so that when you break the yolk, it runs down all over the veggies and rice. Top to taste with hot sauce on down. Again, given a well-stocked pantry, you get 3 meals for ~$5. You could always add protein, but I personally don't miss it at all in this dish.

9) Creole Sauce
From Jake.

This recipe will make a big batch - about 2 quarts. Enough for a really big party dish or numerous easy meals for one or two people — see suggested uses below, allow approx. 1/2 cup sauce per serving. Leftovers can be sealed in zip-lock bags, with the air squeezed out, and frozen for later use. The sauce is best made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight to let flavors blend. Reheat just before serving.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: approx. 40 minutes

2 tbsp. unsalted butter ( $0.16 @ $2.49/lb)
1 tbsp. olive oil ($0.08 @ $7.89/ 500ml bottle)
1/2 lb smoked ham, cut in 1/4” dice (optional, but very good) ($2.99)
2 very large onions, chopped in 1/2’ dice (approx. $2.50)
2 sweet green peppers, cored, seeded, chopped in 1/2’ dice (approx. $1.50)
1 sweet red pepper, cored, seeded, chopped in 1/2’ dice (approx. $2.00)
2 or 3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4” thick. (save leaves for later in recipe) ($0.15 - 0.20 @ 1.29/bunch)
4 to 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced fine ($.20 @ $0.59/head)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste ($0.59)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes ($1.29)
1 cup strong chicken or veggie or seafood stock (approx. $0.50)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground red (cayenne) pepper (use cautiously, you can always add more later)
1 tsp. salt
Small bunch green onions (scallions) chopped with celery leaves to garnish when served. ($0.69)

Costs: Allowing $1.00 for prorated cost of herbs and spice, this comes up to about $13.20 for the 2 quart batch, or $0.83 per half cup serving of sauce.

In a large heavy bottomed non-aluminum sauce pot or Dutch oven, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat until bubbles subside, add ham, onions, peppers, and celery and sauté until onions are translucent but not browned. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves, black and red pepper and sauté 1 minute more. Add tomato paste and salt and sauté 3 minutes more. Add crushed tomatoes and stock, bring to boil, stirring, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If too thick, thin with extra stock. Taste for salt and hot pepper, adjusting as needed.

Over rice, pasta, polenta, or corn bread with or without added chopped leftover cooked meat, fish, or poultry.
You may also add your choice of precooked sliced sausages, with or without sautéed mushrooms.
As a sauce for grilled, sautéed, or broiled fish, chicken, or pork.
As a sauce for sautéed, steamed, or boiled shrimp, scallops, or other shellfish.
As a sauce for steamed cauliflower.
As an alternative to Italian style tomato sauce for pizza.
Dilute with more stock and add fresh or frozen corn and a can of beans for a good soup.
Dilute with fish or seafood stock and add your choice of fish and/or seafood for a Creole Bouillabaisse.
Heat a few spoonfuls in the microwave to top a cheese or mushroom omelet or scrambled eggs.

10) not-quite Nasi Goreng
From Joe.

Some leftover long-grained rice.
1 egg
a splash of water.
some oil
some onion (1/4 of a medium (about tennis-ball sized)), or 2-3 scallions.
one small carrot, shredded
about 1 tsp curry powder
a splash of soy sauce (1-3 tsp, depending on amount of rice and preference)
(optional) sambal or other chili paste, or cayenne pepper (or use a hot curry powder)

Heat your pan (preferably a wok) over medium high to high heat.
Whip the egg with a spash of water.
Oil the pan, and swirl it around.
Pour the egg into the pan, and swirl it around like you might if you were making a crepe.
Once set, flip it to cook the other side (it only takes 30-60 seconds), then remove to a plate.
Cut the onion into slices, or the scallion into small rings.
Re-oil the pan, then toss in the onion (or white bits of the scallion), and cook 'til lightly browned.
Add the rice and curry powder (and optional sambal or other chilies), and cook 'til warmed through.
If using scallions, add the greens when you add the rice.
While rice is cooking, roll up the omelette (cooked egg), and cut across the roll to make 1/2" ribbons.
Add the soy sauce, egg ribbons and shredded carrot to the rice, and mix thoroughly, then serve.

... if you were doing this for a dinner, and wanted to make it more substantial, you can add some extra meat to it (if ham, add with the rice, if raw pork or chicken, slice thinly, and cook with the onions)

11) Rebecca's Lentils Florentine
Courtesy of Jake's DAUGHTER while she was in grad school. Truly, grad student food wisdom must be genetic.

Total time about 45 minutes; makes at least 4 generous, healthy and heartwarming servings.

1 large onion, diced (approx. $1.25)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced ($0.15 @ $0.59/head)
1-2 stalks of celery, sliced 1/4” ($0.15 @ $1.29/bunch)
2 tbsp butter or olive oil ( $0.16 @ $2.49/lb) or $0.16 @ $7.89/ 500ml bottle)
6 cups of stock (veggie or chicken) (approx. $3.00)
1 cup of dry lentils (approx. $0.60 @ $1.19/lb.)
1 bay leaf
a generous pinch each of dried basil, oregano, and thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 20-oz can of diced tomatoes
1/2 lb. small pasta - small shells work well ($0.75)
1 10 oz. box of frozen, chopped spinach ($0.89)
1 or 2 tbsp vinegar, wine or lemon juice (just needs a touch of acid)
(optional, add grated Parmesan cheese for garnish)

Costs: Allowing $1.00 for prorated cost of herbs, spice and acid, this comes up to about $7.95, or just under $2.00/serving.

In a soup pot (at least 3 quart capacity), sauté onions, garlic and celery in butter or oil until onions are translucent. Add stock, lentils, tomatoes, herbs and spices. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer for about 25 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add spinach and pasta. Cook until pasta is /al dente/, stirring occasionally. Stir in acid to taste and taste for salt 1 minute before serving. Pass grated cheese at the table.

12) Pasta Salad for the Lab Bench!

From Aek.

Crunchy Pasta salad (6 servings):

Prepare one 12-16 oz box of your pasta of choice ($.77/box on sale)
In second pot, hard boil 6 eggs. ($1.79/doz)
While pasta and eggs are cooking, prepare the following:

1 crown broccoli, coarsely chopped ($1/2 crowns)
12 baby carrots, coarsely chopped($1/16 oz bag)
2 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped ($2/#2 bag)

When pasta is done, remove from heat and drain. Turn off heat under eggs and allow to remain in cooking water while finishing pasta salad.

In large bowl, combine:

Cooked pasta
Chopped vegetables
4 Tablespoons olive oil ($6.99/32 oz bottle)
2 oz dijon or spicy brown mustard ($1/ 8oz bottle)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes ($.88/bottle)
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar ($2.99/32 oz bottle Trader Joe's)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper ($1.99/bottle with mill Trader Joe's)
1/2 teaspoon paprika ($.88/bottle)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt ($1.99/box Trader Joe's)

Toss gently to coat all ingredients and place in fridge (overnight).

Remove eggs from cooking water, dry and place in fridge to cool overnight.

Eggs may be peeled, sliced and added to pasta salad when packaging or they may be peeled and eaten separately from the pasta as a separate "course".

Need more protein in the salad?

Add 1 can of black beans (rinse them before you dump them into the pasta) ($.50/can)

13) Crock Pot Thingy of Random
From Aek, and I named it my ownself, because they didn't. And because it's really a Thingy of Random. 🙂

Turn crockpot to high.
Drizzle olive oil lightly over surface.
Dump in one medium eggplant cubed (at 2/$1)
Add 9 sliced radishes - about one bunch ($1/2 bunches)
Six cups spinach leaves - or as much as you can cram in to fill (at 2#bag/$2)
Liberal drizzling of olive oil over all about 3 T total, but to taste and texture ($5.99 1quart bottle)
Liberal sprinkling of ground peppercorns ($1.99 bottle w/ mill Trader Joe's)
Sea salt to taste ($1.99 box Trader Joe's)
Tarragon 1T or to taste ($2.99 .5 oz bottle)

Allow eggplant and spinach to simmer until broth is released and olive oil is absorbed.
Stir occasionally.

Add 1/3 cup rice and turn to high until rice is cooked and broth is absorbed (about 1/2 hr, but varies according to size and heat settings of crock pot). (Price - $6.99/20# bag).

Add your protein of choice and thoroughly, but gently incorporate. Here are some of my favs:

Ricotta cheese 1 c ($3.99/ 32 oz.)/ Parmesan cheese 1/4 c ($2.99/8 oz)
One 14 oz can wild salmon ($2.50 on sale at major retail pharmacy chain)
Three 5 oz cans chunk tuna ($.50/can on sale at m.r.p.c.)
1 cup dried yellow peas ($1/bag)
2 12 oz cans pitted black olives ($1/can on sale at m.r.p.c.)

14) Roast Chicken in a Pot
From Snarkyxanf


Whole chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
1 small celery rib
6 garlic cloves, peeled, trimmed
bay leaf
rosemary (optional)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Equipment: dutch oven (oven safe pot with lid), tin foil, meat thermometer.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Heat olive oil in dutch oven on stove. Put chicken breast-side down in dutch oven, surround with onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary.

Lightly brown (5min). Flip breast side up. Cook until vegetables and chicken browned (6-8 min). Cover dutch oven with tin foil, lid.

Put dutch oven in oven, cook until 160 degrees F in breast, 175 in thigh (measure in thickest parts; many chickens have built in thermometer, for an M lb chicken, will take roughly 0.5(M-4)+1 hours or more).

Let chicken rest on carving board (tent with foil). Strain liquids from pot, simmer slightly to reduce, stir in lemon juice to taste to make jus. Skip this step if you want/don't have a lemon. Serve.

Will cost roughly $10 for a very large chicken. The skin will not be crispy (unlike, say, roast chicken), but the meat will be very juicy and tender. I often add more vegetables than specified.

15) Homemade Pasta Sauce
From Denim and Tweed! This one looks delicious, and makes you feel guilty for buying sauce when it's that easy to make...

Here's what you'll need:

* Two (2) small onions,
* One (1) bell pepper in whatever color you prefer,
* At least two (2) cloves of garlic,
* About one (1) tablespoon of olive oil,
* Two (2) 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes in sauce,
* A few pinches of allspice,
* Salt and pepper to taste, and
* About half of one (1) bundle (bouquet? nosegay?) of fresh basil.

Chop up the onions and pepper, mince the garlic, and sauté them all together in the olive oil using a saucepan big enough to handle all the ingredients. When the veggies are nicely sautéed, add the diced tomatoes, and stir it all together. Bring everything to a low boil, and then turn down the heat to keep it simmering. Stir in the salt and pepper, and add the allspice. (The allspice is something of a secret ingredient; lots of people use sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, but allspice will do the trick just as well.) Let the sauce simmer uncovered until it cooks down to a consistency you like—usually, I let it simmer until my pasta finishes cooking. A few minutes before you take the sauce off the heat, chop up the fresh basil leaves and stir them in.

I like the sauce over whole wheat pasta, with a little fresh-grated Parmesan cheese, as pictured above. The recipe makes 6-8 servings of sauce, depending on how much you like on your pasta (I like a lot).

Running the numbers

The cost of the whole recipe, if you're shopping at the discount grocery store I patronize in north Idaho, is as follows: $0.68 for the pepper; $0.26 for the onions (about 1/6 of a 3-pound bag costing $1.58); $0.12 for the garlic (less than 1/4 of a bulb costing $0.48); $0.23 for the olive oil (1/24 of a 24-ounce bottle costing $5.46); $1.90 for the tomatoes ($0.95 per 28-ounce can), and $1.49 for the basil. (The cost for the salt, pepper, and allspice is negligible on a per-pinch basis.) Total: $4.68, or $0.69 per serving.

But wait, I hear you saying, at that same north Idaho discount grocery store I can buy a jar of Newman's Own tomato sauce, containing five servings, for a mere $1.98, or $0.40 per serving. True enough, Dear Reader. But those five servings are half a cup apiece. Who eats only half a cup of tomato sauce on a bowl of pasta? That's just sad. If my idea of a serving is more like one cup, that's $0.79 per serving. And, with all due respect to Mr. Newman, his sauce doesn't contain fresh basil.

If you add in the cost of that whole wheat pasta ($1.38 for a box containing seven servings, or $0.20 per serving), that's $0.89 for a hearty bowlful of tomato sauce and pasta. Not too shabby! A full recipe of this sauce will refrigerate nicely for a week or so—or you can freeze it in plastic bags for long-term storage.


The great thing about this sauce is that it's a good starting point for improvisation. Add oregano and parsley, and you've got a good basic pizza sauce. Throw in a handful of chopped olives and a few capers, and you've got puttanesca. You can also substitute something a little stronger for the bell pepper—when they're in season at the local farmer's market, I love to throw in spicier heirloom peppers. Or try adding cubed, sautéed eggplant to give the dish a little more heft.


I love this category. We only had three entries, but they are all splendiferous, ESPECIALLY Christie's. I'm listing that one first.

1) Cake in a microwave!

This is brilliant. You can make it in the LAB! And it's in a cup! And it's CAKE! WHO DOESN"t LOVE CAKE!

* Took Mug. (Note the unsponsored ad for NESCent. Thanks for the mug, Dr. M.)

* Added 4 tablespoons of flour, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of baking cocoa, and mixed.

* Added one egg. Mixed thoroughly.

* Added 3 tablespoons of milk and 3 tablespoons of oil. Mixed again.

* Added a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and chocolate chips (not required, but delicious), and mixed a final time.

* Popped in the microwave, and put it on high for 3 minutes. (NOTE: Cake will rise! If we'd used a smaller mug, it would have risen out of the mug - so don't freak out.)

* Allowed to cool a couple of minutes.

* Ate.

2) Chocolate cake of DOOM!

This one comes to us from C6H12O6 (I love that glucose submitted a cake recipe), and is more of a dark chocolate cake, and probably (because it's not made in a microwave) more tasty and fulfilling than the microwave cake in a mug. But cake is cake.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cold brewed coffee or black tea
1/2 cup milk

* (Unfortunately the original recipe called for 3/4 cup and there's no good way to half this. I just eyeballed 1 and a half 1/4 cups.)

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat wet ingredients lightly, then slowly add dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Pour into 8x8 inch pan and bake at 350*F for ~30 minutes. Cool completely, then ice with something fruity or coffee-flavored. I used strawberry icing and it came out wonderfully.

3) Cake Balls
What is with grad students and cake? 🙂

The recipe is simple, it’s also pretty cheap. Here’s what you need:
Cake mix (1)
Veggie oil (the amount required by the cake mix)
Eggs (number required by cake mix, usually three)
Baker’s chocolate (the original recipe says you need 4 oz, but Sci prefers 8)
powdered sugar
fruit of choice (small)

Ok, bake the cake. Take it out of the oven and let it cool (while it’s cooling, start melting the chocolate on the stove, it’ll take a while, you want to do it on low heat. Sci also found out recently that if you heat it up, and then let it cool, and try to reheat it, you WILL burn it, and it will be useless. Don’t be like Sci. It was a tragic waste of chocolate).

Then when the cake is cool, crumble it into a mixing bowl. Scoop in all the icing in the can (ok, not ALL of it, you’ll need to test several spoonfuls of it first to make sure it’s RIGHT). Mix. You can do this with a spoon or with your hands. The hands is more fun.

Then take the resulting thick goop and make little balls. Sci uses balls that are about and inch across.
Take your balls, and dip them in the melted chocolate. Sci personally has not had ANY luck with the dipping, the balls fall apart. She had to drizzle her chocolate on, and kind of make sure the thing is covered with a spatula. Word says that this is improved dramatically by letting your cake cool all the way and then letter the cake and icing mixture sit in the fridge for a few hours. But what grad student has that kind of time?
You are then going to make a white glaze. Take a couple of pats of butter, and soften them in the microwave (like 30 seconds). Add in some powdered sugar. Mix. You want the result to be light and drizzly and to taste like awesome. Add a little water if you need it. Drizzle carefully over the now chocolate-covered balls.

Add a berry on top. Store in the fridge. Best eaten chilled.

Cake mix: $0.99 (Sci isn’t proud and the cheapest is what she goes for. The cake is secondary here anyway)
Eggs: $0.99 for a pack of 6
Vegetable oil: $3.99 but a lot of people have this around and it lasts a long time.
Frosting: $2.00
Bakers chocolate: $6.00 (The most pricey item. You could probably, if you wanted, make your own or sub caramel)
Powdered sugar: $1.50
Butter: $1.50
Fruit: Whatever’s on sale, Sci generally won’t pay more than $3, you can also buy frozen which is cheap and thaw it in the microwave.

Total: $20, which isn’t the cheapest, but they look great (ok, Sci’s don’t look nearly as good as professional, but they TASTE fantastic) and it’s about what you’d spend buying salad and dressing and stuff anyway.
Yield: around 40 little balls, which is great if you need to feed a party of 20 dessert.

4) Awesome Pumpkin Spice Cake
From C6H12O6, and it's even low fat!

* 1 box spice cake mix (I buy Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe) - $4
* 1 can pumpkin (15 oz) - $2
* 2 servings Egg Beaters - $1 ($4 for 16 oz package with 8 servings)

Beat Egg Beaters and pumpkin, then slowly beat in spice cake mix. Bake according to box instructions, but check 5-10 minutes early. 24 slices yields ~2g fat per slice. Greasing the pan with butter or Crisco will add fat, so be careful with how you choose to do that.

Optional: Cream cheese frosting or chocolate chips. Stir in a whole bag of mini chocolate chips for super chocolatey, half a bag for semi-chocolatey, or sprinkle a few on top for barely chocolatey. All of the above will greatly increase the fat content, so do at your own risk!

And finally, the most important category:

(C'mon, we all know what you REALLY eat)

1) Lab Cuisine

Sci's personal ramen recipe

1 pkg Ramen (throw that icky flavor packet AWAY)
1/2 small pkg frozen Oriental veggies (about 1 cup)
Morning Star chicken breast thingy (1)
Soy Sauce

Make Ramen as directed, discarding flavor packet. A hot plate in the lab is particularly good for this, but make sure you bring your own cooking container. Ramen in the microwave is crappy Ramen.
For veggies, stick them in microwave safe container, tightly covered, with 2 tsps water. Microwave on high 4 minutes. Result=steamed veggies.
Prep chicken according to packet instructions in microwave. On chicken, add 1 tsp of soy sauce before it goes in the microwave.

Mix ramen, veggies, and chicken together. Add soy sauce to taste.

Sounds icky, I know, but it’s really not bad. But it’s cheap! And when you are stuck in the lab til way late and hungry, you take what you can get. And this is what we keep in the lab fridge. Don’t know why the sesame oil was there, or the soy sauce, for that matter. The ramen is something that all grad students (and post-docs) keep in their desks for emergencies. The frozen stuff Sci will admit running home to get.

But it was both cheap and nutritious (sort of, the Ramen is the kind with no trans fat and the flavor packet was discarded, saving you some high sodium issues). You can also do this with couscous and spices, to avoid the high sodium of the soy sauce or Ramen flavor packet (yeah, I know you use it anyway).

Update for PRICES:
Ramen: between 15 and 25 cents a pack.
Frozen mixed veggies: usually under $2, you’ll use half.
Morningstar Vegetarian “chicken”: $4, you’ll use half.
Soy Sauce: $4, but you’ll use it forever.

Total for the hungry grad student: per Ramen, it’s around $3.50, but to start out it will be more than $10, to buy the “chicken” and the soy sauce. So the vegetarian version may be cheaper, but there’s not much nutritional value in this one to begin with, so…

2) Christie's Ramen Recipe

Turn ramen into thai peanut noodles. The best part is you can eat them hot or cold!

- Ramen (flavor is irrelevant) - $0.25
- 4 tablespoons of Peanut Butter (what a few bucks for a whole jar? So like, $0.10 worth. PS I find chunky seems to add more dimension to the meal)
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (or, for the morally unhindered, two carefully snatched free to-go soy sauce packets from the supermarket or chinese place. Either way <$0.10 worth)
- 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (A few bucks for a lot of it, so again, let's say $0.10)
- 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper seeds (or ~ 1/3 a packet from a pizza place) - or more, if you like your food spicy
- ideally, some garlic and onion chopped really fine to taste (this takes more prep, though, and not likely to be doable in a lab setting)

Total cost: less than a dollar if done right... though you buy most of the ingredients in bulk.

Cook ramen as directed (microwave or flame - your decision) and drain
Over bunsen burner (or in a saucepan, you know, if you're cool like that) mix together rest of ingredients until blended (if you choose to add garlic & onions, fry them in a tiny amount of oil first, then add the other ingredients)
Add noodles and coat well.

Bon Appetit!

3) Tybo's Gourmet Ramen

Sapporo Ichiban ramen: $0.50 (I know, it's pricier than Manchuran! But something about the noodles just cooks better. However, if you're *really* pinching pennies, Manchuran still works well.)

1 Stalk Celery: ~$0.25
1 Carrot: ~$0.25
1 Egg: ~$0.25 (Optional)
1 handful of mushrooms: ? (Price will vary depending upon type preference)
Black pepper: Free? (I mean, Rachel Ray says salt and pepper are freebies, right?)
(Total cost somewhere between $2 and $3, I suppose.)

(These are really rough price guesses - the point is that only one out of a package of much more is used. I make this about three times a week for two at a time (doubling the amts, naturally), so I actually go through packages of fresh veggies this way.)

Chop the celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Boil the celery and carrots for a minute or two in two cups water, then the mushrooms for another five minutes or so. Then add the ramen itself, and cook according to instructions. (Optional) In the last two minutes, break and add the egg and let it harden in the boiling water.

Feel free to adjust other spices to preference (I've experimented with Ms. Dash and celery salt), or just use the flavoring package (pointing here back to Sapporo Ichiban - their flavoring packets taste better to me, too...) It works without anything, too, although more so with the egg - without egg and without extra spices or flavoring is kind of bland.

4) Anonymous Ramen
This one is the type in the Cup O Noodles

stuff fresh spinach, frozen veggies (I like corn and green beans) and fresh green onions into the space between the paper you lift up slightly and the noodles. I also only use half a packet of the flavour stuff as it is so sodium laden. Then, fill to normal level with boiling water. Put weighted object over paper to seal, wait about five minutes, and instant ramen with a little bit of health.

And that's what I've got! There were actually MORE, and some wonderful instances of advice as well, but I can only include so much, and as this post is already almost 10,000 words, we're gonna leave it here. But worry not! Sci has some plans as to what to maybe do with these recipes...other than eat them, that is.

15 responses so far

  • Astrid says:

    What a SELECTION! I'm gonna eat well for a while, I can tell.
    Thanks for posting mine up 🙂 My dad made it recently using a whole bloody head of garlic, and said it was top dollar.

    Cooking is for the win.

  • I should not have read this before lunch. SO HUNGRY.

  • Dr Becca says:

    Nice job putting this all together, Sci! It seems that groceries are cheaper in other parts of the country than mine.

  • Peggy says:

    Awesome! I haven't been a grad student for a long while, but cheap and easy recipes are good any time.

    I'm surprised no one contributed a chili recipe - that's my easy/cheap/freezes well favorite.

  • aek says:

    Thanks so much for including mine, Sci! I didn't name the "creations" because I refer to them all as garbage stews.

    All of the recipes look scrumptious, and they are definitely going to be thoroughly "tested".

    I hope you'll consider a crock pot. It makes life ever so easy. Think of it as essential lab equipment. They are fairly easy to come by at my favorite price - free - on CraigsList and Freecycle. Most thrift shops have a couple hanging around, and even the drugstores usually sell one or two basic models.

    Although I can't think of anything that tops cake in a mug. Except perhaps coffee in that chocolate cake.

    • scicurious says:

      You know, I just asked for one for Xmas...but Freecycle...that is wise! Also thrift stores. I will check around. Thanks! I'm DYING to try that lentil and spinach soup that you listed.

      • I agree with aek, crockpots are a great investment. You can let something cook all day while you're at the lab, and then come home to a hot delicious meal. mmm. Also they keep the temperature down when cooking in the summer because you don't have the stove/oven on.

        I get a lot of recipes from this blog:

        • aek says:

          Ooh! A Crockpot blogger! Many, many thanks!

          I went back and looked at the Guardian recipes supposedly aimed at students, but am I the only one who thought that the number & types of ingredients, coupled with the intricate and lengthy prep times, didn't sing student at all? But maybe this will start a trend.

          Because I'm ancient, I remember being so impressed by Madeleine L'Engle's portrayal of the scientist stay-at-home-in-the-lab mom's Bunsen burner stews. (The Dad had tessered to an unfriendly planet and was being help prisoner by IT - how prescient is that?) Anyone else remember reading about Meg and Charles' parents' integration of math and science in their home lives in A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, A Wind in the Door, etc?

          Oh, but I digress...

          • "Anyone else remember reading about Meg and Charles’ parents’ integration of math and science in their home lives in A Wrinkle in Time"

            That's one of the few things that still sticks out in my memory from that book.

          • scicurious says:

            I will admit that, as a child, for YEARS I wanted to be a scientist so I could make stew over a bunsen. I have still never done it.

            DINNER TOMORROW.

  • Zuska says:

    OMG what a great post! I will definitely be cooking some of these recipes! And yeah, I bet you can get a crock pot at a thrift store.


    After a minute or two, the outer leaves of the cabbage will start to soften. Using the forks, carefully pry the leaves loose and set them aside on a cutting board or paper towels or something. As far as fork usage goes, the gestures you want parallel pretty closely to how you get thin cryostat slices onto slides. Only a lot bigger.

    totally cracked me up! I am pretty sure the directions on how to make holupkis (stuffed cabbage) from the old bubbas in my hometown did not include anything about thin cryostat slices, but since they had to improvise and adapt their cooking in coming from the Old to the New World, I am sure they would admire your transferable skills moving from the lab to the preparation of stuffed cabbage!!!!!

  • Kamel says:

    Wow, lots of great looking recipes. I'll definitely be trying some of these out.

    Following up on the cup cupcake (and bunsen burner stew), I always thought it would be funny to see a cookbook of lab equipment recipes. Poached salmon in the dishwasher, maybe? And surely there are meals to be prepared with the right autoclave cycle settings.

  • aek says:

    OK - three things

    I can't reply to your last comment Sci - I think I broke the thread. But how was your bunsen burner stew?

    I forgot to thank Charming Undergrad above about the softening beans tip. I never knew about that and so - many chewy beans in many soups and dishes. No more!

    And another thanks to EcoPhysioMichelle for the link to the crockpot blog. I just learned how to make rocket fuel grade yogurt for cheap, cheap, cheap! (The link is on the right sidebar) Now I can make my own favorite flavors: coffee, almond and lemon, and if I can find pistachio extract, I will be in absolute orbit. It's only one more step for making yogurt cheese, and that involves getting yet another wonderful product as a result: whey for amping up soups and stews.

    Nom. Nom. Nom.

  • You're welcome, aek. 🙂 I find the recipes on that website a bit hit or miss, but you can always modify them to suit your needs. For example, I tried her chicken parmesan recipe and I found that the breading came out all soggy. But, then again, I made it in a slow cooker, so what should I have expected? Hindsight is 20/20.

    I just pulled a pumpkin spice cake out of the oven using my recipe above. mmmmm.

  • We stumbled over here from a different web address and thought I
    should check things out. I like what I see so now
    i'm following you. Look forward to exploring your web page yet again.

Leave a Reply