I have a confession. As a student, I am more than partial to cheap, crappy, premade foods.
Things I am guilty of enjoying:
Jarred pasta sauce. It’s in a jar and if you’re cooking for one, you don’t always want to make pasta sauce from scratch using one jar of diced tomatoes (which equates to pasta for lunch and dinner over the next 2-3 days). You can get ones with things inside them like mushrooms or spicy peppers or even red wine because I’m fancy and can’t afford a shitty <$10 bottle of “red” to make my own sauce. Plus, $2 jars make my heart sing.
Canned soup. They can be wholesome and hearty complete with meat and/or veggies. Plus, they require one pot. And then you can even eat out of the pot minimising the need for washing up an extra bowl. By using the Campbell’s can of ‘cream of’ soups, you even get the (unwarranted) satisfaction of cooking food with the addition of milk and water (Cream of mushroom is my favourite).
Instant pasta meals. As above, you have to add extra ingredients such as butter and milk to create your ‘gourmet’ meal. “Look at me, adding foods to a pan”. Plus, these things are delicious. To be fair, they’re a good cheat base for ~decent meals with your own intuition i.e. adding protein and vegetables. Plus, they can be oh-so-cheap. Serves 2? Costs $2? That’s $1/meal. Take that, Curtis Stone, you creepy smiling jerk. Continental or bust, though.
Fresh, stuffed pasta. Ravioli or agnolotti already have meat inside those moist morsels of pasta. That’s protein and carbs in one packet!! Just add pasta sauce (jarred or otherwise) and you’ve got a ‘balanced’ meal. Also, microwaving does not equate boiling in water and then draining. Um. Just trust me on that.
Canned fish. Canned tuna is utterly disgusting. Yet, on the rare occasion, I find myself topping my VitaWheats with flavoured canned tuna for lunch. It’s barely appealing but this “meal” has cost me $1. Am I complaining? Yes. But I shouldn’t. And I won’t complain long. As a healthier alternative, canned salmon and sardines are much better for you – they have healthier oils and contain calcium from all the bones you consume. They also taste significantly better. In fact, they have a taste.
Frozen mince. I nearly always buy mince in bulk of which I portion and then freeze in single serving sizes for later. But you can now buy pre-frozen mince. 5 star graded too. The meat is freshly minced and then snap frozen. The mince looks like short straight strands of frozen mince. THIS IS A GOOD THING. It means that when you add the meat frozen to the pan, you don’t have to worry about lumps. They’re all perfectly separated already!
This post is inspired by last night’s dinner using instant lasagne sheets, frozen mince, one jar of roast garlic and onion tomato pasta sauce as well as 2/3 jar of alfredo sauce. I do not have a photo for this but it was delicious (I did add lots of fresh veggies into it though, i.e. grated carrot, fennel, onions and zucchini). Also, this post is probably endorsed by my future cardiologist as they reprimand me about my high sodium intake.