Archive for October, 2008

DIY Roundup: Halloween Costumes

Want to spice up your Halloween with a little do-it-yourself costuming this year?  Here are a few of my favorite fun (or ridiculous) costume tutorials from around the web…  (I think the Inanimate Objects may be my favs!)

Wings, Capes, and Tails

Traditional Costumes

Movie/TV/Book Inspired

Inanimate Objects

photo: Pumpkin Candle by somadjinn

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3 comments October 19th, 2008

Cheap & Easy College Recipes: The $10 Waffle Party

I like to throw a party as much as the next girl, but living on a teeny tiny budget doesn’t exactly make that easy.  With my student loans in repayment and my husband applying for med school, we’ve got to be pretty creative to have anyone over (much less feed them).  That’s why Waffle Night, our semi-weekly Sunday night soiree, is so perfect.

The 10 Dollar Party

Waffles may be the perfect party food-everyone seems to like them, and they feed a lot of people for not a lot of money.  Basically you buy a ½ gallon carton of buttermilk, a bag of flour, and some vegetable oil, and you’re good to go. The other ingredients you’ll probably have on hand if you cook at all. Best of all, we’ve fed up to 20 people with just waffles-that’s 50 cents per person!

Making it Affordable

The waffles themselves may be reasonable, but the accessories and toppings can rack up your bill-so do what we do, and get your guests to bring stuff.  Here are a few things you may need to assign/borrow:

  • Waffle iron
  • Syrups (our favorites are maple, chocolate, and strawberry)
  • Toppings (jam, candy, honey, peanut butter, sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc.)
  • Paper cups, plates, and napkins + plastic utensils (if you don’t want to do dishes)
  • Drinks (milk, orange/apple/grape juice, water, etc.)

The Waffle Recipe

So, our actual buttermilk waffle recipe is one of those top-secret family deals, but this waffle recipe looks pretty darn good. You can also mix it up and try having:

If you want to spend a little more, you could have everyone over for custom omelets or personal pizzas.

Do you have any cheap party ideas to share with the class? 🙂

photo: Waffles 4 by woodsy

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5 comments October 13th, 2008

No More Cafeteria Food: Mix it Up With Fun Recipe Sites

By now you’ve probably had more than your fair share of slushy chicken fettuccini alfredo from the cafeteria-what would you give to have a Double-Double® or those awesome-looking chicken enchiladas you saw on Food Network?  Would you maybe consider… cooking for yourself?

If you’ve got a craving for some real home-cooked (or restaurant style) food at home, you’ll love these websites:

TopSecretRecipes.com

Every once in a while my sweetie and I get these amazing fried zucchini starters at a local restaurant.  We’ve tried to make them at home, but somehow they never come out quite right.  That’s why Top Recipe Secrets is a blast-this guy spends serious time figuring out how to get the exact almost-perfect taste of restaurant recipes. Not all of them are free, but some of the awesome freebie recipes include:

FoodNetwork.com

Here’s my ridiculous confession: I watch Food Network while I work out. I can’t help it-I just love to see what amazing things these chefs show me in 30 minutes!  One of the best parts about watching Food Network is that you don’t have to sit there and copy down recipes-you can find recipes from most of the shows right on their website.  Here are a few that caught my eye today:

CookingLight.com

I’m a picky eater, so eating healthy isn’t always an easy thing for me. But we stumbled across this magazine called “Cooking Light” at the grocery store a couple months ago and started flipping through it-amazingly they have healthy meals that look delicious!

They also have a great series called “Cooking Class” that teaches you cooking basics. Here are a couple of my faves of their “classes” & recipes:

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

I stumbled across this blog through a lot of clicking around on other blogs one day.  This woman writes a super funny city-girl-on-a-ranch regular blog, but her cooking blog is pretty mouthwatering, too! Not healthy, usually, but they sure look yummy:

photo: Pizza by rrss

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2 comments October 6th, 2008

The College Student’s Guide to Saving Cash on Food Costs

No matter how much you love Ramen noodles, I’m willing to bet that you don’t want to eat them every day of your life-or even every day for the next few years.

But food is expensive (and so is college!) so lots of students end up living on Ramen, cold pizza, and chips they found in the common room-not the healthiest diet. Here are some alternatives to the noodles-and-oatmeal diet…

Food Stamps

Did you know that you might be eligible for the U.S. government’s Food Stamp Program? I read an article about students using food banks in USA Today-apparently it’s becoming a trend. If you qualify, you could get funds from the state to help you pay your food bills.  Money is distributed on a card that works kind of like an ATM, and is accepted by most grocery stores.

See eligibility requirements here, or use their pre-screening eligibility tool. Then find out how to apply in your state-if you have questions, you can call your state’s Toll Free Food Stamp Information Hotline.

“Big Box” or 99¢ Shopping

One popular way to save on food at UCSD was to take a group to our local Costco, a bulk-buying store (like Sam’s Club, Smart & Final, etc.).  They sell everything from bulk bags of frozen chicken breasts to 18-count boxes of eggs, as well as fresh fruits and veggies, juices, and even huge boxes of oatmeal.

To keep costs down, simply go with a group who wants to split a majority of foods. Split the cost accordingly and then divvy up your shares of food. For frozen items, get a zipper locking plastic bag and split up the big bag and throw the little ones in the freezer (label them if you’re sharing with a roomie).

As to the 99¢ shopping, did you know that lots of dollar stores sell food?  You might think that’s kind of shady, but just be sure to check expiration dates. One of my friends finds name brand chocolate soy milk there, often for only $1 each. (Plus the 99¢ Chef can teach you how to make yummy dishes with this stuff!)

Free Samples

This isn’t a reliable shopping method, but it can be pretty fun. Search the websites of products you use a lot-from foods to shampoos-for free samples offers.

Try About.com’s Freebies page for a regularly updated list of free samples.

A couple sites I know of that usually offer no-cost goodies are Wal*Mart’s freebie page, and Dove’s free samples page.

Couponing & Rewards Clubs

The other day I saw a girl at the grocery store with a huge pile of coupons. I’ve been trying to use them more lately, but I know I could actually save a lot more if I’d put a little time into it.  If you’re a beginner at coupons, like me, you can start by finding them:

  • In the Sunday newspaper
  • In circulars (ads) that come in your mailbox
  • On the websites of products (not just foods) you use a lot (lots of them have rewards clubs, too!)
  • At coupon websites like RetailMeNot.com

If you’re a little more intense about coupons, you can really save big.  I’ve been fascinated by all the coupon moms that seem to be coming out of the woodworks lately-publicized in newspapers, TV news, and blogs.  These ladies really know how to work the system, sometimes using rewards clubs and coupons together to get lots of free stuff.  Want to know how it works?  Check out the guides and coupon tips at these blogs:

Remember to only use coupons for things you actually need!

Bonus…

I love this article, 15 Great Grocery Shopping Tips, from Get Rich Slowly. It covers all the basics of how to save on food-it’s definitely worth a look!

photo: Vegetables by MFinderup

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5 comments October 2nd, 2008


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