Eight food hacks for the shit-broke student

August 25, 2015
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Student life can be hard, but it’s also very educative. It’s educative because we’re all doing that thing called ‘uni’, but it’s also educative because it teaches us to be optimistically resourceful. When there’s no food left in the house except for a bag of tortillas and some ‘aged’ cheese, my younger sisters wail with disappointment and despair. But me? I’d say, “That’s a meal!”, throw them together, and zap ‘em in a microwave. Hey presto! Dinner is served. Thank God there’s someone around here with their head screwed on right. 

Here are a few awesome food hacks to get you through the desperate times.

It’s nacho problem

When you’re in need of a savoury schnack and the energy levels are low, nachos is there for you. While this version might not sound particularly gourmet, if it’s 3am and you’re on the prowl for a solid post-drinking splurge, this dish is about as damn tasty as it gets. Required: one pack of Doritos, tomato salsa, cheese, microwave. If you’re feeling a bit fancy and have the resources, then guacamole, refried beans and sour cream are all an added (but not essential) bonus.

Date night efforts

If there’s someone special on your mind and you want to impress them with your superior culinary skillz, but you’re devastatingly restricted by your empty pockets and limited resources, fear not! Invite them over for a dorm-style dinner party, and wow them with your freshly baked (microwaved), steamy chocolate cake. I mean, I’d tap that. 

The classic

Mi goreng. Need I say more? I recommend adding an egg so you can pretend you’re at a fancy ramen joint.

Nothing egg-stravagant

Eggs for days! These legends are perhaps one of the most versatile ingredients known to man, so make sure your fridge is constantly stocked up. The possibilities are endless: whisk them up in a microwave-safe mug and zap them to enjoy them scrambled; boil them in the pot of your coffee maker; or fry them on a piece of tinfoil under a magnifying glass out in the sunshine.

To bake, or not to bake?

Ever heard of no-bake cookies? Well I’m delighted to announce that yes, they are a thing, and a microwave is the only gadget required. In case you’re still not entirely convinced, let me put it this way: worst case scenario is that you end up with an entire batch of cookie dough to be consumed. Who’s the real winner?!

A cereal offender

Bircher muesli is a fun breakfast option that can be made with just oats and water. If you’re feeling fancy and want to make it as authentic as possible, just replace the water with apple juice. Let it soak overnight, and then add whatever leftover nibbles you’ve got lying around to give it that extra ‘oomph’. Nuts, fruit and cinnamon would be great, but Skittles, chocolate flakes and Milo would also suffice.

You pump that iron!

To satisfy those late-night grilled cheese sandwich cravings, sandwich toaster: not necessary. A standard clothes iron should do the trick nicely - just make sure you clean all the oil off before you next use it for its intended purpose. But chances are, the iron will become your official standard toaster, and your clothes will simply remain forever unloved and crinkled. Bonus points if you’re able to avoid buying an iron at all, and instead rely on the communal residence iron for your needs.

Skill level: Masterchef

If, on the other hand, you do happen to own a sandwich press, you may now take the time to pat yourself on the back and celebrate the fact that you are more or less equipped to face any culinary challenge. Ovens, microwaves, stovetops – they’re all extravagantly superfluous utensils really. With this baby, you’ll be feasting like a king: chicken nuggets, bacon and eggs, pancakes, omelettes and sizzling sirloin steaks are now on le menu. So get that bad boy fired up and launch yourself into life with sparkling eyes, a hunger in your belly, and the realms of possibility at your fingertips. 

Hannah Hughes

Hannah is passionate about lime milkshakes. She also enjoys befriending ducks at the University of Wollongong, where she studies law and journalism.