If there was one thing I sorely missed about college life, it’s probably my college meal plans of the day. Cut off from the wonderful homemade meals of your far far away home, and flung to a world wherein you basically have to cook or die starving.
Now, I can cook–I can probably say my cooking skills are above average and I could make some complicated sounding dishes with monosyllabic names if given the recipe. But the problem with college is that you don’t really have the money to buy all the ingredients. It’s also a huge effort to cook since there is a huge amount of prep time. Also, washing dishes are a pain in the butt!
With time, money, and effort basically down the drain, I basically had to survive with the ingredients I usually had. Sometimes, I had to eat somewhere cheap. Let me share some of my very unhealthy college meals that I had to prepare, or the cheap stuff I usually ate outside. I’m not going to include fast-food since they are mostly not cheap.
*Note: These were not my everyday meals, there are times I could actually cook decent meals.
1) The Canned Tuna Varieties
Canned tunas are particularly cheap and tasty (read: salty). What I usually do with this is get some leftover rice from my refrigerator, dump it in a bowl, heat the canned tuna directly from a stove, and dump it on top of the rice. Mix it, then eat. It saves me from cooking or reheating the rice, and I don’t have that much dishes to wash.
I usually take the hot and spicy variety, since the usual ones taste like fish on a water. Also, there are canned tunas that are paella-type. Paella is a kind of Spanish dish that has rice, vegetables, and usually seafood in it. The paella-types are a lot better since it has rice with the oily sauce in it, some spicy tuna, and bits of carrots/green peas here and there. It’s the perfect excuse for saying you had your go, grow, and glow food groups!
2) Pork & beans…now with more not-so-actual pork (with eggs too!)
One of my ingenious food inventions solves one of the greatest problems of pork & beans…there is no pork. I have always wondered about it since I usually saw 3-4 minuscule pieces of pork in every can (record high is 7), and felt the urge to just call it beans & beans. My journey to correct this problem led me to my discovery–dumping canned vienna sausage in the pork & beans mix is actually possible and equally tasty. I always thought that canned sausages were somewhat bland in the taste department; adding it to the pork and beans made it look like I’m eating some MexItalian dish. Also, if I got 5 minutes to spare, I boil an egg, then put it to the mix, too. It’s add more dimension to the flavor and makes it more appetizing than plain ol’ beans and beans (who am I kidding anyway).
3) Corned Beef and Spam Sandwich
Whenever I needed to pack some quick lunches and I don’t have any time to prepare, a sandwich is always a good option. Now, a Spam sandwich is usually a good breakfast meal, all you have to do is pop a can of Spam, slice, then put it on a bread. But, I somehow got tired of it and added an interesting ingredient–corned beef. Spam and corned beef actually goes well with one another, it also tastes better if you add some tomatoes in it to offset the saltiness, or add mustard for some jolt. At any case, when all you got are canned goods, this sandwich is a killer (like death by kidney stones).
4) Rice and Chicharon
Chicharon is a Filipino finger food that is basically dried and fried pork skin. It’s delicious and it’s full of fats and cholesterol. It’s also available in most of our local convenience stores as a junk food. Now, when you got some hot rice with no side dish at all, and just a pack of chicharon it gives you strange ideas. Rice always gives you strange ideas and rice without side dishes gives you mad ideas. So I opened a pack of the junk food and ate it along with the rice. Lo and behold, it was a perfect match!
However, since I was a decent person, I decided only to try it again on desperate measures or absolute madness. Throughout my four year college stay, I’m proud to say that I’ve only done it about 3 times.
For references, below is the image of what I usually buy. A vegetarian chicharon since I actually think about my health in the most useless of ways.
4) Ramen Noodles (or any other instant noodles for that matter)
It’s the staple food choice of college students. Ramen noodles also goes well with rice, trust me.
5) Convenience Store Foods
Convenience stores are the pinnacle of human technology. Humans have finally created something that would actually support the life and sustenance of a college student by providing food, drinks, toiletries, and porn mags. These are my usual choices for convenience store foods:
*7-Eleven’s Sausage Sandwich – they have a wide selection of flavors for sausages, from bacon, spicy, cheesy pizza, beef, and the list goes on and on. It’s also relatively cheap, for two it would cost as much as 54 php (1.2 US dollars). One is already enough to fill my stomach, so two is a luxury in itself.
*7-Eleven’s Ground Beef and Bacon Rolls – basically tortilla rolls with tons of cheese, ground beef, chili con carne, and bacon for 65 php or about 1.498 US dollars. It’s cheap and absolutely tasty.
*Mini-Stop’s Kariman – these are fried stuffed sandwiches. They have tons of flavors and one of my favorites are cheesy tuna and pizza flavor! It costs about 20 php, I buy two and it costs around a dollar.
6) Pizza Will Save Humanity
I know, I know…pizza isn’t that cheap. But, if things do get terribly wrong, and I miss the warm comforts of the days when I actually had a tasty healthy meal; I seek one that is guilt-free and universally loved, the messiah of the food world…pizza. It’s always there when all things go wrong. Money problems are easily forgotten once you get a taste of it, nirvana is accomplished. The drawback is that you wake up the next day realizing you’re broke. But, who cares? It’s pizza.
It’s also healthy since pizza is a vegetable…right?