Commentary by Sydney Kate Watson, asst. arts & living editor

If you are staying at Berry over the break, or trying to get the holidays started early, here are some ways to cook budget-friendly holiday meals on campus while looking out for your wallet during this period of inflation. 

Inflation is a systematic increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money currently. Inflation is rising at the highest rate in over 30 years at 6.2% according to NBC News Washington. It has affected gas prices, but have you seen your grocery bill increase as well? It probably has, and that’s due to inflation. 

While economists have competing views on what exactly is causing the inflation, either a supply and demand chain issue or the influx of cash in the economy due to stimulus checks, they can all agree that consumers are becoming aware that their dollar is losing value.

To combat against inflation, or get the biggest bang for your buck, consider these few shopping tricks from NBC News Washington: shop store brands instead of name brands, take advantage of deals, buy one get ones and buy in bulk. The Washington Post recommends being flexible with your menu. If something costs more than expected switch things up on your menu. Also, if you make these recipes with a friend, you could both split the purchasing costs, and there is much more fun to be had when you cook with others.

Along with following these tips while grocery shopping, check out these meals on this budget-friendly holiday menu. Each meal included in this holiday dorm cookbook may not be specifically holiday themed, but instead they all have a general home-cooked meal likeness about them. On this budget-friendly holiday food menu, there is mug macaroni and cheese, spinach and feta mashed potatoes, deli roast beef sandwiches, quick apple crisp and chocolate pecan pie snack mix.

“Mug macaroni and cheese”

Gemma Stafford | biggerbolderbaking.com

“Mug macaroni and cheese” requires one-third cup pasta, three-fourth cup cold water, four tablespoons milk, one teaspoon cornstarch, four tablespoons cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to taste. 

In a large mug, microwavable of course, add in the pasta and water and cook for about three and a half minutes, but the time may very so check the tenderness before continuing. Pour off the water that remains in the noodles. 

While stirring, add in milk, cornstarch, cheese and microwave for another minute. Stir well and add salt and pepper to your liking. 

“Spinach and feta mashed potatoes”

Beth | budgetbytes.com

“Spinach and feta mashed potatoes” require two russet potatoes, two tablespoons of butter, one-fourth teaspoon garlic powder, one half teaspoon of salt, a dash of pepper, one-fourth cup milk, two cups fresh spinach and two ounces of crumbled feta. 

First, wash the potatoes and prick the skin several times with a fork, and microwave them for about five minutes. However, each microwave is different so check the tenderness by piercing the center of the potato with a fork. After allowing potatoes to cool, slice them, put them in a large bowl and add garlic powder, butter, pepper, salt and milk. 

Proceed to mash until butter is melted and seasonings are mixed well. Next, add in the spinach, and know that the heat from the potatoes will wilt the spinach partially. Lastly, crumble the feta cheese on top and properly fold in.

“Deli roast beef sandwiches”

Ruth Ann Bott | tasteofhome.com

Deli roast beef sandwiches need one-pound sliced deli roast beef, two cans beef gravy (10 ounces each), one can mushroom stems and pieces, drained, and Italian thick sliced bread or whatever bread you have on hand. 

In a microwavable bowl, combine roast beef, gravy and mushrooms. Cover them with saran wrap and microwave for two to three minutes on high or until heated throughout. Once done, spread on top of bread. This recipe makes four servings, and pairs great with mashed potatoes!

“Quick apple crisp”

Suzie Salle | tasteofhome.com

For “quick apple crisp,” you will need one cup graham cracker crumbs, one-half cup all-purpose flour, one-half cup packed brown sugar, one teaspoon ground cinnamon, one teaspoon ground nutmeg, one-half cup butter, melted, eight medium tart apples, peeled and sliced and whipped topping or ice cream is optional. 

In a large bowl, graham crackers, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Arrange the apples on the bottom of a greased microwave safe bowl and sprinkle the crumble mixture on top. Microwave for eight to nine minutes in a 1,100-watt microwave, and top with your preferred topping. 

“Chocolate pecan pie snack mix”

Annette Niemiec | tasteofhome.com

This crowd-pleasing party mix, or final exam week snack, requires four cups Rice Chex, four cups Chocolate Chex, two cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted, one cup packed brown sugar, one-half cup, or one stick, butter cubed, one-third cup light corn syrup, one-half teaspoon baking soda, two cups semisweet chocolate chips and two tablespoons shortening. These measurements make a large batch, so feel free to cut it in half if you don’t want to store so much mix. 

Combine the Chex in a large bowl with the pecans. In a separate smaller bowl, combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter. Microwave this mixture on high for two minutes, and make sure to stir at the halfway point. After it is melted, stir in baking soda. Then pour mixture over Chex mix, and toss to coat pieces. 

The now gooey Chex should be microwaved for three minutes, while stirring every minute. Once cooked, spread the mixture onto a wax paper lined baking sheet to cool. While it is cooling, combine chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl and microwave until melty, making sure to stir often since chocolate burns easily. Once the mixture is smooth, drizzle it over the cooling Chex. Then refrigerate the Chex until everything is set. After the pieces are cooled and set, feel free to break it into pieces and make sure to store in a container at room temperature. 

No matter where you are for the holidays, remember to enjoy yourself, find a way to make your favorite meals, perhaps dorm style and do not think twice about calories! 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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