By Abby Humphreys
We’ve all craved something tasty to eat after a long day of class, but spending money on takeout or delivery every night just isn’t possible on a college student budget. However, with the right techniques, it’s easy to make something both simple and delicious at home in minutes.
Brining is a helpful way to keep lean meats like chicken and turkey from losing their juiciness during cooking. You can read about the science behind brining here, but the basic idea is that submerging the meat in a salted liquid for a certain length of time allows the meat proteins to denature, which leaves it more tender after cooking.
The brining process can’t be simpler. Soak chicken breasts in this this 5-ingredient brine recipe before heading to class in the morning and enjoy deliciously juicy chicken on top of rice or pasta for dinner. (For extra flavor, try adding lemon slices or herbs to the brine before soaking.)
2. Doctoring Sauces
Store-bought pasta sauce is all right on its own, but normally still tastes like it’s from a jar. With a few added ingredients, however, it can easily taste homemade. This website lists ten simple ways to make spaghetti sauce more palatable depending on what you have available in the kitchen.
Doctoring barbecue sauce can also take chicken to the next level without much effort. There are lots of recipes online that use bottled barbecue sauce as a base, but Serious Eats lists several ways to improve sauces on your own depending on your taste preferences.
Marinades may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s hard to know what to add to make a marinade really hit it out of the park. Luckily this helpful chart explains what makes a marinade and gives examples of what to use for each component depending on what style of cuisine you’re craving.
Marinades are most helpful in making cheaper cuts of steak taste better, such as skirt steak or flank steak. Try this easy grilled skirt steak recipe while the weather is still warm and serve with fajita fixings for an unforgettable Taco Tuesday.
4. Steaming Vegetables
Vegetables are high in vitamins and nutrients and are often low in calories, but finding the best way to cook them is often a challenge. To avoid cooking broccoli and green beans into smelly mush, try steaming them instead. Stores like Walmart, Target, and food gadget retailers like Kitchen Collection sell steam baskets for cheap, and the process is as simple as it gets. This chart from Heal With Food provides steaming times and seasoning suggestions for 40 different types of vegetables.
Even if you hated veggies as a kid, give steaming a try. Steaming prevents the vegetables from becoming overcooked as easily as if they were boiled, and more nutrients are able to stay in the vegetables instead of leaching out into the water they were cooked in. The end result tastes nothing like the puddles of green goop served in elementary school cafeterias.
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