Sunday, January 5, 2014

Save Money When Buying Textbooks

Before every semester starts, I and many other college students need to buy textbooks for their new classes.  There are many options for how to obtain your textbooks and these vary some by school.  Below are some methods to help you save money and/or time finding your textbooks along with what I have found to work best for me.

1.  See if your school has a program through which you can rent your textbooks.  One of my friends pays a small fee along with her tuition in order to be able to borrow every textbook she needs for each semester.  They are guaranteed to have the necessary textbooks and she can write in them as much as she wants as long as the books are still intact and legible when she returns them.  She even has  found that sometimes past users of the books have highlighted the most important parts.

2.  Check out the textbooks your on campus bookstore has.  At my school as a freshman you can sign up for a program to receive all of the books you need for the upcoming semester.  No matter how many times you swap classes, when you go to pick up your box, they will have the books you need.  You can also select whether you have a preference for new or used books.  After your freshman year, you can still buy books from the store and have them gathered together for you, but you must pick out the specific books that you are buying.  At any time in the first few weeks you can return some of your books if you have dropped the class for which they were needed.  In my case buying books from the campus bookstore is a time and stress saver, but is far from the most frugal choice.

Friday, December 6, 2013

LDOC and Explosions

Happy LDOC!  LDOC = Last Day Of Classes (for the semester), in case you were curious.  Actually, LDOC was a few days ago, but with college schedules differing so much, perhaps it is someone's LDOC.

And now it's time for a story.  Let's set the stage.  My roommate and I have bunked our beds together and the ladder that I use is next to our mini-fridge.  We use the space (about 2.5 ft high) under my roommate's bed for storage.  The floor is cleared in the space in front of the mini-fridge except for my roommate's bag containing holiday gift bags, etc. and some expired orange juice and an expired individual serving of chocolate milk that had been removed to make more space in the fridge.

I was studying for finals and reclining on the couch, facing the fridge.  I could not see the floor due to the armrest.  So there I was, minding my own business, and something explodes.  My first thought was that it was a party popper or something that my roommate had that just went off randomly.  It even threw things, maybe confetti, in the air!  And that's kind of cool and exciting.  

But the truth was neither cool nor exciting.  I stood up to find the once full chocolate milk bottle leaning on its side above a puddle of soured milk.  The souring milk had released enough gas to build up enough pressure in the plastic bottle for the bottom to pop outwards and the cap to fly off.  The "confetti" had been drops and chunks of milk.  Yuck!

So instead of continuing to study, I rushed to move things out from under the bed, where a significant amount of the milk was.  Then I was faced with cleaning up the rest of the mess.  While spilled milk might not be something to cry over, exploded soured milk might be.  Phew, the smell of it!  Even after soaking it all up and taking everything to the dumpster outside, the whole room smelled awful.  So I wiped the area down with some lemon scented wipes, which masked the smell some, but left our floor very sticky.  After about a day I wiped down the area again with just water to remove the stickiness and any remaining weird combination of smells.  Overall, wouldn't it have been much better to just take the expired milk to the dumpster in the first place?  Oh yes, a thousand times yes.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Updates and Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal (Boatmeal)

Sometimes when reading a post on a blog that I haven't read much or at all before, I'll check out the author's "About" section.  And sometimes even after reading only a few posts, I can tell that it hasn't been updated for a while.  The poor, neglected "About" section.  And what about us new readers?  But don't worry, if I can tell that the section might be a bit off, it's probably because the content of the posts is really rich.  So I just move on and read more posts. :)

And even though I've noticed things like this, somehow I let my "About" section become outdated.  However, there is not really much there.  But hey, I'm a junior now, not a sophomore, so I guess that's exciting. :)  Okay, and now for something much more interesting: Boatmeal!

This is another great (and easy!) recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie.  Baked Oatmeal = Boatmeal.  Since it is now definitely fall, I decided I wanted to make something with pumpkin in it, and this was a really easy way to do so.  I increased the size of the recipe (and the ingredients proportionally) and made my boatmeal in a 2-cup class container.  When I got back to my dorm room, I shared it with two of my friends.  I had bought a pack of about 10 small single-serving vanilla ice creams, so we each had the perfect amount of ice cream to go along with the pumpkin boatmeal.  Delicious!

Friday, September 20, 2013

My lunch plans are boring.

I basically eat from the same set of options each week.  Sometimes I'll have a salad.  I'll have sandwiches with meat and cheese and sometimes tomato or mustard several days of the week.  And of course sides of whatever fruit/chips/other snack-y items I have that week.  And that's pretty boring.  I don't care, but it's not really worth talking about.

What I do enjoy talking about are the special things I do each week.  For example, last weekend a friend and I made pizzas!  We bought pre-made crusts for simplicity and topped them with spaghetti sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and some leftover tomato slices I had.  And of course we added garlic and basil to both pizzas and a small about of crushed red pepper flakes to a small test section.  Yum!  Simple cooking fun with a friend!

And then sometimes I come up with new ideas to make my life simpler/easier.  Usually I buy fruits and vegetables on the weekend and then prepare them when I want them.  So for my first sandwich of the week, I might wash and slice a tomato and store the remaining slices for the rest of the week.

But I don't always have enough time to both prep and eat lunch, so I would just skip on the tomato on Monday...and again on Tuesday...and so on.  So it might be Thursday before I start enjoying some (or most) of the food that I had bought the previous Saturday.  And sometimes food goes bad. :(

So this week I did something different.  I prepared everything on Sunday night.  This mostly involved washing and chopping.  I chopped up my peach, nectarine, and mango and put them in single serving containers.  It was so easy to just grab one of these to eat in between classes!  I also prepared my cucumber and tomato for a cucumber, tomato, and feta salad.  And I chopped the bad ends of the beans so that when I wanted to cook them later in the week it would require less of a time commitment.  And they were so good!

But this method does have a major drawback: sometimes produce isn't quite ripe enough when one buys it.  And even though my mango wasn't quite ripe, I decided to prepare it.  That was not the best decision.  Some of it was good.  But most of it was crunchy.  Yuck.  So, I might have to amend my plans for this weekend.  But the general idea still turned out to be a good one for me.

What ideas have you tried to make your cooking simpler/easier?  How did they work out?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Food plans for the week of 9/9/13

Once again, here are my lunch plans for the coming week.  I did not eat very many frozen meals last week due to attending many welcome events for different clubs offering free pizza and/or other food.  Thus, I still would like to have some more containers and freezer space before I make anything to serious.  Last week I did make some squash (with basil and garlic, yum!), so I will eat the remaining portions of it sometime this week.  Once again, breakfasts will be fairly simple.

Every day: Options of dried apricots, cranberries, veggie chips, applesauce, peaches, etc.

lunch: salad using leftover tomato, cucumber, and greens from last week