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Vegetarianism

In the month or so since my last post I’ve started following a pescetarian diet. Turns out watching Cowspiracy and doing extensive research into the meat and dairy industry affected me a fair bit.

One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about following this diet (and having a vegan cookbook) is that everything is REALLY cheap. I’m talking spending $30 or less a week while making delicious home-cooked meals kind of cheap. If I had known this when I was in my early years of university I would have adopted a pseudo-vegan diet much earlier on.

Getting sick of eating too many ramen noodle cups might be part of the student experience, but once you get to that stage (it happens pretty damn quickly) you should definitely check out some vegan recipes. I’m not saying go 100% vegan – especially because this would ruin your ability to enjoy pizza (the other big university food), but have one here and there and add some chicken if you feel like it.

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Find a few recipes you really like (the cookbook I linked earlier, Thug Kitchen, is fantastic), go to the bulk food store, pick up most of the ingredients for a ridiculously low price, and enjoy an awesome meal that doesn’t involve dried noodles, flavour packets and a lifetime supply of MSG.

This brings me to the topic of this post (and often the topic of this blog): eating cheaply during and after university. Even if you’re incredibly lazy with food, chances are you’re not willing to spend a ton of money to get that convenience (you’d rather use that excess money to pay back the saddening amount of student debt, or you know, do something fun).

If you look at a couple of the vegan recipes in Thug Kitchen Cookbook or elsewhere you may notice that there can be a ton of ingredients. Don’t get scared away! For the most part when you look more closely it basically says to take all these (easy to prepare/ready-to-cook) ingredients, toss them into a bowl/pan and mix.

At this point you probably want me to stop ranting on and on about vegan recipes, so I will (aren’t you lucky!).

Soylent 2.0

Those of you who know me in person, or who checked out the video I linked on the Facebook page a while back, know that I did a five-day Soylent challenge a while back (or rather attempted one and failed miserably) along with two of my co-editors at the Western Gazette. Soylent is a meal replacement (not to be confused with “meal supplement”) that comes in both powder and liquid form. It is essentially 20% of all your nutritional needs (based on a 2,000 calorie diet) all in a convenient bag/bottle.

When I attempted to switch to Soylent for five days it went downhill pretty quick. The powdered version – Soylent 1.5 – I found to be lumpy, grainy, poor tasting and just generally a terrible experience. But I still liked the idea, even if I had given up on the challenge after two days.

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A couple weeks later I ordered some Soylent 2.0, which differs from its powdered counterpart by being factory-mixed (meaning no grainy/lumpy texture), flavoured with a hint of strawberry (which really just makes it taste like slightly sweet milk) and bottled into convenient.. err.. bottles.

Over the course of about a month I had a bottle of Soylent 2.0 every morning for breakfast and occasionally for lunch or dinner if I was in a rush to go out. The convenience I had hoped for with 1.5 was present with the slightly more expensive 2.0.

Soylent 2.0 is a student’s dream meal when it comes to cost and convenience. Each 400-calorie bottle costs about $3 US including shipping and tax. For those of you who NEED a morning coffee, they recently came out with Coffiest, which kills two birds with one stone by giving you a cheap meal and your morning coffee in one bottle (though I can’t speak to how it tastes as I have yet to try it).

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Whether you’re needing a healthy snack while at the library (that doesn’t involve crunching lettuce on the silent floor), rushing to a morning class, out for a long walk or up late and not wanting to spend time prepping a meal, Soylent 2.0 is the best thing I’ve had. So please put away those ramen noodles once in a while and replace it with one of these (or a vegan/vegetarian meal if that’s your fancy and you’ve got the time).

There are a lot of ways to eat more cheaply but these options allow you to do so while still maintaining a healthy diet. While they may not be the most popular options around that doesn’t mean they aren’t good ones. When it comes to future eating it’s all about looking out for new and upcoming trends and in a few years time (or less), chances are these options will be far more popular than they are today.

Images: Pexels (1), soylent.com (1)
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Slow Cooker Roast Beef

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Making food during exam time is probably the last thing on your mind, but if you’re looking for something easy and tasty to last a few days, you should strongly consider making slow cooker roast beef.

Students turn to ordering in pizza, going for late night runs to the nearest fast food joint and making frozen meals; that’s fine, if you want to do that by all means go ahead. But if you have a slow cooker and like beef, this recipe is a must try.

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Portions: ~8, Cost/Portion: ~$2

Prep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 8 hours +

Ingredients

~4tbsp ground Thyme
~2tbsp dried oregano leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
~2tsp salt
1 tomato, chopped
3 shallots, sliced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted beef stock
Beef roast (boneless blade)

Directions

1) Combine thyme, oregano, garlic and salt in a bowl to make seasoning
2) Take out beef roast and rub seasoning onto it, let sit for 15-20 minutes, add to slow cooker
3) Add chopped veggies and beef broth to slow cooker
4) Set slow cooker to low for 8-10 hours (depending on how tender you want it)
5) Remove roast beef and pull apart to serve, top with veggies

6 Reasons to Invest in a Slow Cooker

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Come Home to a Nice Hot Meal

After a long day at work or on campus you likely want to just get into comfy clothes and relax a bit. But then there’s the problem of dinner. Do you cook? Do you order in? Do you scrape together leftovers? It’s always a hassle to decide and put in the effort. With a slow cooker, you can just come home, take out the food and eat it while doing whatever.

Easy and Quick to Prepare

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Chopping up ingredients the night before

Slow cookers don’t just displace the work that goes into meal-prep, they greatly reduce it. If, like me, you aren’t much of a morning person, you can use spare time (10-20 minutes) the night before to get everything ready so the next day all you do is throw in the ingredients and turn it on.

Wide Range of Recipes

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Apple spice cake made in a slow cooker

Meals you can make in a slow cooker aren’t limited to just stews, soups and roasts. You’d be surprised at the amount of things you can make! Examples include paella, apple spice cake, shepherd’s pie and beer-braised corned beef. You can find a ton of slow cooker specific cookbooks at the book store. I am currently using Canadian Living’s New Slow Cooker Favourites.

Large Meals

When you make a recipe with your slow cooker you aren’t cooking for just one meal or one day; slow cooker recipes typically make 4 to 10 servings. This leaves you with plenty of leftovers and takes even more time away from cooking during your busy week.

Hands-Free Cooking

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Slow cooker ready to go

With the food being being prepared by the slow cooker, you’re free to do whatever you wish while it’s cooking, without worrying about it burning. Need to go out of the house to run some errands? No problem. Want to study at the library all day? Go ahead. Planning on taking the day to relax? Let the food take care of itself.

They Are Inexpensive

Unlike some helpful kitchen appliances that are super expensive, a slow cooker can be bought for around $30-60 (unless you get a big advanced one for $100+). Walmart is a great place to get one, offering a large variety of slow cookers for cheap; I got the Crock Pot 4Qt Slow Cooker for just under $30.

Buying Guide

Things can quickly get confusing when you go to buy a slow cooker, so here are a few tips to help you decide which one is best for you.

Programming: Best to get one you can set a timer for (either custom, or set) amounts of time and that automatically switches to a warm setting.

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Programming with set amounts of time

Size: 4qt is a good size for one person. Anything bigger is great for entertaining.

Shape: Oval is better for roasts. Round is better for soups and stews.

Insert: Look out for one that’s dishwasher safe, it’ll make your life that much easier.

Handles: Heatproof is best, otherwise make sure you’d be able to hold them with oven mitts on.

Enjoy!

Cheers,

Ellis Koifman

Potatoes

Almost any (if not every) grocery store sells potatoes in large bags for a rather small price, which can be a huge help to your student grocery budget.

The other night I went to Loblaws at 10:30PM and on somewhat of a whim bought 10lbs of white potatoes for $5.

You might think this is insane for one person, or normal, or just a really boring thing to buy. To an extent you’re right. My actions were largely driven by excessive studying all about the potato in my “Food in World History” course, which put me in a weird zombie state that we all experience during midterms (except zombie me likes potatoes… a lot).

On that note, here are a couple of recipes that you can use potatoes for:

Mashed Potatoes:
1) Bring pot of water to a boil, while you’re waiting,
2) Peel 3 to 4 white potatoes
3) Quarter the potatoes and add them to the boiling water
4) Let cook for 15 minutes
5) Drain water, add a cup of milk and 3 tbsp of butter
6) Mash the potatoes and milk with a potato masher until smooth
7) Season with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream

Baked Potatoes:
1) Set the oven to 425F and line a baking pan with foil
2) Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork
3) Rub some olive oil on the potatoes then sprinkle them with salt and pepper
4) Put the potatoes in the oven for 45-60mins, or until tender, turning them halfway
5) Let them cool then serve with sour cream
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Cheers,

FP