“Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true — anyone can cook,” said Chef Gusteau in “Ratatouille.”
What Chef Gusteau says is indeed true — anyone can cook. While Virginia Tech offers a wide variety of options for students living on campus, those who live off campus may find it easier to cook their own food on days they don’t come to campus or if their dining plan account balance is starting to look a tad concerning. Not only are these meals super easy to make, but they’re also affordable. Ingredients can be prepped ahead of time, and meals can be frozen and stored for multiple days. It’s time to put on your chef’s hat with these four options:
I have to say, while I try not to show any bias when it comes to cooking, this one definitely hits home. Bolognese is a favorite in my family. In a large family with lots of kids, bolognese is easy to prepare, and it provides lots of leftovers. My family’s recipe is unmatched and a bit of a secret, but I guess I can make an exception this time. Want to impress your friends with your Italian skills? This Bolognese recipe is perfect (or, should I say, delizioso).
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of any pasta (suggested: linguine or angel hair)
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 16 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (optional)
1.5 pounds of ground beef
1 onion (chopped finely)
In a medium-sized pan on medium-high heat, add olive oil and garlic. Continue to stir until the garlic becomes a golden-brown color. Turn down the heat if you notice that the garlic is cooking too fast; you don’t want to burn it. When the garlic turns golden-brown, add onions and continue cooking and mixing consistently. Add ground beef and, using a spatula, separate the larger chunks of ground beef while it browns. Add salt and pepper. Cover for 30 seconds at a time, then continue folding it until the ground beef has completely browned. Add in tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and stir the mixture. Cover on low heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and is warm to the touch. Taste and adjust if needed. Turn off the heat and cover until mealtime. Boil your pasta, and simply reheat the bolognese when ready. Top with parmesan and enjoy!
The BLT is one of my favorite types of sandwich. Not only are BLTs delicious, but they’re super fast to make and perfect for an on-the-go meal. Sometimes when I’m in a rush, I’ll make a BLT and wrap it in foil — perfect for later! You can get as creative as you’d like with your BLT (sometimes I like adding avocado to mine), and because the ingredients are inexpensive, you can spend a little more on the bread, depending on what you favor. Here are the ingredients you need:
2 slices of white bread (any)
1 beefsteak tomato (season with salt and pepper to taste)
1 tablespoon of mayo
2 slices of bacon (buy it precooked to save time)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Whether you’re looking for an excellent meal when it gets bitterly cold or something to get you through the Hokie plague, chicken noodle soup is perfect. This soup recipe can actually be put in the freezer in an airtight container, and when you’re craving it next, all you have to do is turn a pot on medium-high and thaw the soup. Here’s my go-to chicken noodle soup recipe from Food Folks And Fun. Sidenote: The provided list of ingredients has been modified.
32 ounces of chicken stock
1 shredded rotisserie chicken
3 cups of noodles (suggested: butter noodles or even rice)
3 celery stalks (chopped)
1 large carrot (diced)
1 yellow onion (finely diced)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
In a large pot on medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, finely diced onions, and chopped celery. Allow onions and celery to cook, mixing consistently for about five minutes. Add chicken stock, carrots, chicken, noodles, salt and pepper, lemon juice, parsley leaves, and bay leaves. Cover and leave on medium heat, allowing the mixture to cook for 25 minutes. Noodles should be soft when the soup is ready. Taste and adjust as needed.
Craving a hearty breakfast to fill you up for the day, but feeling unsure of your cooking skills? Omelettes are perfect. Ingredients are inexpensive, and if you’re on the go, food prep and cooking take less than 10 minutes. You can add basically anything to your omelette, giving you a variety of options, whether you’re looking for a good breakfast option or even a quick dinner. I’d highly suggest using a spinach, onion and bacon combo.
Cooking spray, butter or oil (whatever you have on hand)
A splash of half-and-half or milk (my secret ingredient to making the omelettes fluffy)
1/4 cup of diced onions
1/4 cup of spinach
Any cheese (suggested: cheddar or a three-cheese blend)
1 slice of bacon chopped finely (optional)
In a small bowl, crack eggs, add a splash of half-and-half (or milk), and add salt and pepper. Whisk until combined. Spray a pan on medium-high with cooking spray, and add desired vegetables (and meats if applicable). Be sure to cook onions first. Stir until they’ve browned a bit, then add spinach. Continue mixing vegetables until they’ve sauteed and turn the heat to low. Add egg mixture over vegetables; be sure the mixture covers the entire pan. Cover until the top of the egg is cooked. Add cheese and fold one side of the egg to the other side. Cover again for 20 seconds (or until the cheese is melted). Turn heat off and omelette is ready for serving.
These meals are great ways to ensure that you’re saving money while enjoying a home cooked meal off campus. Many of the recipes use the same ingredients, meaning you might only have to go to the grocery store once for the entire week for a variety of meals. It’s time to say goodbye to cereal three times a day and hello to home cooked meals.