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Eating Cheap and Healthy: A Recipe for the College Student

Words by: Alyssandra Sencio


  • 0.00 in bank account and/or wallet
  • 1 malnourished student
  • 2 hours online
  • 3 silver pots, stolen from home
  • 4 cans of desperation
  • 5 tablespoons of delusion, raw


Ideal Prep: 20 min          Actual Prep: 1 century          Cooking Time: You need time to cook?         Ready In: Your Dreams

  1. Look at yourself in your mirror. Realize that if you continue to consume shawarmas and milk teas everyday, you will grow sicker and poorer. Let the thought that you may die alone sink to your potbelly.
  2. Once existential dread and anxiety have simmered in your soul for ten minutes, turn to social media for escapism. Scroll down your feed for hours, absorbing meme after meme.
  3. Buried in the bottom lies a link a distant acquaintance shared: some hippie’s list of “cheap and healthy” recipes. Because you don’t want to die of cancer and crave more simulation, you click the link.
  4. The titles melt into your mouth: Crispy Pan-Seared Salmon with Creamy Lemon Rice; Stir-Fried Farro with Garlicky Kale and Poached Egg; Roasted Sriracha Cauliflower Bites with Peanut-Ginger Dripping Sauce…it goes on. Drool and salivate at the gorgeous photos.
  5. Instead of buying dinner, stare at your ceiling. Then, imagine the smell of childhood wafting from your microwave: a bowl of LuckyMe Gordon Ramsay would be proud of. Be inspired, imbibed with the same daring as revolutionaries driven like moths to flame.
  6. Leap out of your couch. Start with the basics: spaghetti, the sweet kind without meatballs. The process should take ten minutes tops. Make pasta. Make sauce. Mix sauce into pasta. Taste spaghetti. Smile with the effervescence of a shampoo endorser at your hard-earned fruits of labor.
  7. Forget you added five tablespoons of salt. Choke. Spit mush out. Weep in a corner and vow abstinence from your kitchen, ordering Thai instead through FoodPanda. Preserve pasta in your fridge. Force-feed self the remains for the next three days.
  8. Order more pizzas and takeout lasagnas. Eat tapsi and carinderia food when out. Watch your waistline and expenditures expand with a listless gaze. Exerting effort is pointless. Why bother, when you do nothing right? Beat yourself up a little more until you’ve had enough of chicken.


Eating Okay: A Recipe for the College Student Who Gave Up Too Soon, with Readjusted Expectations Sans Delirium


  • 0.00 in bank account and/or wallet
  • 1 student-cum-human with lower expectations of everyday, “simple” gourmet meals
  • 2 hours doing other things besides analysis paralysis
  • 4 cans of self-acceptance
  • 5 teaspoons of hope, sifted
  • 3 real reasons to cook, found within the self, such as:
    • A desire to grow.
    • Chopping veggies and stirring broths function as wonderful stress relievers.
    • Your mother likes paella, so you want to cook it for her someday.


Ideal Prep: 20 min          Actual Prep: 15 min          Cooking Time: 15 min         Ready In: 10 min

  1. Come to terms with reality. Sometimes, you give yourself less credit than what you deserve. Remember that cooking isn’t rocket science: it’s a life skill. You can’t remain stagnant forever. The best time to learn is now. You can’t call yourself independent if you can’t whip up something edible.
  2. Take it slow. Go at your own pace but stop putting responsibilities and long term goals on hold. You can procrastinate on homework but you can’t procrastinate on living.
  3. Wash hands with soap and water. Start anew and forgive yourself.
  4. As water boils, chop the onions and garlic. Let the pasta boil in the pot for ten minutes. When the pasta is ready, mix the three ingredients into the tomato sauce, and then mix your new sauce into your pasta. Ensure that the salt is screwed on right, and sprinkle a little of that and pepper onto your pasta to taste.
  5. Twirl spaghetti around your fork. If nothing seems amiss, shove it into your mouth. Smile. Enjoy, and think about what could be improved, and what went right. Finish pasta and store leftovers in your fridge. Wash your plates. Clean up.
  6. Tomorrow, cook again, and keep cooking until you can make that paella.

Source of featured photo: aztech.com