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Expensive food choices, a challenge for students

By Noah Antonneau, For The Miami Student

Shopping List:

Cherry Tomatoes - $2.79

Apple - $0.99

Pear - $0.99

Potato - $0.89

Pack of 5 Cheese Sticks - $3.95

Cinnamon - $1.99

Pack of 6 Tortillas - $2.60

Total - $14.20

I was recently presented with the challenge of making three meals in a day for $15, using only ingredients from MacCracken Market.

I figure the most efficient way to go about shopping is to start grabbing ingredients I can use for each meal.

Starting with breakfast, I browse the aisles looking for anything that might catch my eye.

I find fruits starting at $0.99, probably the best deal at MacCracken. I purchase an apple and a pear, which I will cook in a bit of water on the stove top and finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

For lunch, I see a potato hiding in the back behind the fruits. Naturally, I grab one, imagining it will be relatively inexpensive.

This is the point at which I have to start thinking thriftily. I buy a six-pack of tortillas, thinking I may use them for dinner, along with five cheese sticks for $3.95, which seems like a steal compared to the block of cheese for $7. I will roast a potato in the oven, and wrap it up with cheese in a tortilla to make a nice lunch burrito.

Now that my shopping bag is starting to fill up, and given my already shallow budget, I face the challenge of creating the largest meal of the day -- dinner.

Thankfully, I know I will still have leftover tortillas and cheese sticks from lunch. So the only other ingredient I buy for dinner is grape tomatoes.

I can dice up the tomatoes to use as "pizza sauce" on a leftover tortilla, and top with cut-up cheese sticks. This is something I'll be able to easily throw in the oven for 10 minutes to get a delicious result.

With the leftover tortillas, I know I'll be able to make cinnamon toast by sprinkling them with cinnamon and putting them in the oven for a few minutes.

I begin checking out and am immediately concerned. The first item was cherry tomatoes, which, at $2.79, drains a chunk of my budget.

Much to my relief, however, the fruits were cheap and allowed me to stay under budget by a whole $0.80.

The cooked fruits with cinnamon for breakfast were by far the best meal I made. There's something appealing about warm fruit, especially when it's cheap and easy to make.

Compared with breakfast, lunch was less than satisfactory. My burrito was decent at best, though I think I undercooked the potatoes. Not to mention that they were a real pain to clean up since I forgot to cook them on wax paper.

Dinner was good, but not flavorful. It was a bit like having grilled cheese, and definitely resulted in me going to bed hungry. The cinnamon toast weren't too flavorful either.

I wish I'd had a few more dol

lars - I could've bought more cheese sticks to make nachos instead of cinnamon toast.

Saving money means being creative. So, utilize your leftovers. The four extra tortillas I had were easily made into cinnamon toast. Try to buy ingredients that you know you will be able to use later in a meal.

Finally, if you want to eat healthy, but don't want to spend too much, fruit is your best option. Priced reasonably at $1, you could buy all the pears, apples and oranges you want for a low price.

All in all, cooking cheap and substantial meals from markets on campus is doable, it just takes a good amount of creativity and dedication.