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Cooking for yourself

How to save money by cooking and entertaining for yourself

The average college student hangs out with their friends and attends social events constantly. But after a while, eating out, grabbing drinks after work and nights of barhopping all start to add up.

However, by cooking for yourself, or your friends, you’ll be able to have the same amount of fun while spending a fraction of the cost on an average night out. Before you find yourself at Whole Foods and in over your head, though, give your menu some thought and keep these tips in mind.

Many grocery stores have a preferred customer program where cardholders are made privy to special sales and price reductions that non-cardholders don’t receive. By becoming a preferred customer, which is often free to do, by the way, you get more bang for your buck, even more than simply clipping coupons would give you!

Families, individuals and students alike are feeling the economic pinch, and as a result, more and more food sites have posted budget-friendly recipes and meal ideas. So, if you find yourself completely uninspired, start surfing sites like AllRecipes.com or FoodNetwork.com. They not only have thousands of recipes on hand, but they also have experts who spend their time creating easy and flavorful dishes that don’t strain your wallet. Here are some of our favorite recipes that we found.

Tri-Pepper Salad

(serves 12)


2 heads of romaine lettuce ($1.99 each)

1 orange, red, yellow pepper ($2.79 each)

½ cup parmesan cheese ($4.20 for ½ pound)

½ cup raspberry vinaigrette ($1.60 a bottle)


Cut up the lettuce and peppers and grate the cheese. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix.

Total cost: $10.58 plus tax

Tangy Lemon Chicken

(serves eight)


2 ½ pounds of split-breast chicken ($5.65 for 2.87 lbs)

1 cup Italian dressing ($1.57 a bottle)

2 tablespoons lemon zest ($.69 per lemon)

½ cup lemon juice ($2.59 for 15 oz bottle)

2 dashes black pepper ($1.85 for 2 oz)


Miz Italian dressing, lemon zest and juice and put into a plastic bag. Add chicken and let marinate for two hours. Grill for 12-15 minutes, basting with marinade once.

Total cost: $12.35 plus tax

Lemonade With A Twist

(serves six to eight)


2 cans frozen pink lemonade ($.97 each)

Fresh blueberries, blackberries or raspberries ($2.28 for 4.4 oz)


Make mix according to instructions on can. Mix with berries of your choice to give it a fun, fruity twist.

Total cost: $3.25 plus tax

Grand total for entire meal: Under $30

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