Introduction: How to Make a Four Course Meal on a College Student Budget

Picture of How to Make a Four Course Meal on a College Student Budget

We are a group of college students who love to eat but often have empty wallets. Here is a great way to get a semi-home cooked meal at an affordable price. The following meal consists of an appetizer, main dish, side dish, and dessert, all of which have a Latin flair. This meal is intended to serve four people, but modify each recipe to suit your needs. 

Before you begin cooking, make sure you read all four of the recipes to ensure you have the proper ingredients, cooking utensils, and appliances. Parts of this meal require knives, a stove, and an oven, so use caution to avoid injuries and fire.

In total, the meal takes about 90 minutes to make with an estimated cost of about $35. Remember, split the cost and the time between four people and you have an inexpensive, easy, tasty meal!

Step 1: Appetizer: Guacamole Dip

Picture of Appetizer: Guacamole Dip

Estimated Cost - $5.00
Estimated Prep time: 10 minutes
Estimated cook time: None

List of ingredients:
- Chips
- 1 Avacado, halfed, seeded and peeled
- 1 small tomato, diced (or several cherry tomatoes) 
-  Lime juice
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 habanero
- Salt and pepper

Optional:
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced 

Step 1: Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed. Scoop out the avocado into a large bowl. 

Step 2: Use a fork to mash the avocado. Make sure to leave the avocado a little chunky.  

Step 3: Add the onion, tomatoes, lime juice, salt, pepper, and habanero to the bowl. 

Step 4: Stir the ingredients to combine. 

Step 5: Enjoy!

Step 2: Main Dish: Deep Dish Taco Squares

Picture of Main Dish: Deep Dish Taco Squares

Estimated cost of ingredients: $15.76
Estimated prep time: 20 minutes
Estimated cook time: 20-25 minutes

Some of the following ingredients can be added to or omitted depending on your personal preference. For instance, if you like tomatoes or black olives, feel free to add those at the time you layer the chiles.

**Note: This dish reheats in the microwave well, so it is great for leftovers!**

List of ingredients:

-1 lb. ground beef
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 Tbs taco seasoning
-1 cup Bisquick mix
-1/4 cup cold water
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1/3 cup mayonnaise 
-1/2 cup shredded cheese
-1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles

Step 1: Cook beef and onion together until thoroughly cooked. Drain the meat and onions.

Step 2: Stir in taco seasoning into the meat and onions. (See image 2)

Step 3: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Step 4: Spray 8-in square glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Step 5: In a medium bowl, stir Bisquick and water until dough forms. Pat dough in bottom of glass dish and about 1/2 inch up the sides. Tip: Coat your hands with a thin layer of Bisquick to keep the dough from sticking to your hands! (See image 3)

Step 6: In a medium bowl (can use the same one you used for the dough), mix sour cream, mayonnaise, and cheese until blended. 

Step 7: Layer beef mixture, then chiles over dough. Spoon sour cream mixture over top. (See image 4)

Step 8: Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges of dough are light golden brown. (See image 5)

Step 9: Cool, serve, enjoy! (See images 1, 6, and 7)

Step 3: Side Dish: Mexican Rice

Picture of Side Dish: Mexican Rice

Estimated Cost - $4.97
Estimated Prep time: 5 minutes
Estimated cook time: 10 - 15 minutes

**Note: The following recipe serves 2. If you are making a meal for 4 people, double the recipe or dish out smaller portions.**

List of ingredients:
- 15 oz of diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbs Water
- Uncle Ben’s instant rice (brand of your choice)

Step 1: Open up the tomatoes with green chilies and add to a pot with the cumin. Do not drain the tomato and green chilies juice. (See image 2)

Step 2: Open up the Uncle Ben’s instant rice and add to a separate pot/skillet with 2 tablespoons of water.  (See image 3)

Step 3: Once the diced tomatoes with green chilies and cumin come to a boil, remove the heat. Once the rice has been thoroughly heated, remove the heat. (See image 4)

Step 4: Combine the rice into the pot with the diced tomatoes with green chilies and cumin. Cover the pot tightly with either aluminum foil or a lid. (See images 5 and 6)

Step 5: Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then serve.

Step 4: Dessert: Churros

Picture of Dessert: Churros

Estimated cost of ingredients: $9.56
Estimated prep time: 10 minutes
Estimated cook time: 20 minutes


List of ingredients:(See image 2)

-1 cup of water
-2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-2 quarts oil for frying
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Step 1: In a small saucepan over medium, combine water, 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. (See image 3)

Step 2: Stir in flour until mixture forms a ball. (See image 4)

Step 3: Heat oil for frying in deep skillet to 375 degrees. 

Step 4: Roll the dough into small thin strips. (See image 5)

Step 5: Place strips genitally into hot oil and fry until golden. (See image 6)

Step 6: Place and drain dough on paper towels(use tongs to pick up dough). (See image 7)

Step 7: Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon, then roll the drained churros in the mixture (See image 8)

Step 8: Serve and enjoy! (See images 1, 9)

Comments

kutz (author)2014-02-08

Trying this out tonight! Sounds fantastic for a night of good eating on a low budget. Step 4 part 5 you might want to change "genitally" to "gently" though lol... Poor chaps might get the wrong idea...

sunshiine (author)2013-04-10

Looks very tasty and I love the intro picture! Thanks for sharing and do have a splendorous day!
sunshiine

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