Community Philosphy Blog and Library

HOMEGROWN Life: Six Tips For Eating HOMEGROWN On A College Kid Budget






At 19, I moved into my first apartment, a shoebox studio that I shared with a fellow student in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.  Our kitchen was just big enough for the mouse we called Einstein to scurry about. He was a genius at avoiding traps we set out in every nook and cranny, which left us little room to concoct culinary creations on our Playskool-sized stove. So, we sustained ourselves by eating cereal out of paper bowls, and hummus straight from the container. Nevertheless, my roommate and I did find the time, tools, and ingredients to make many messes, and some meals, on the 2’ x 2’ counter space.

Living on a college-kid budget, I spend more time eating samples at Whole Foods Market than buying actual ingredients, but inspiration comes home with me, and I (attempt to) recreate meals on the cheap.  Stockpiling dry goods in bulk, and splurging on fresh foods of the season has allowed me to spend and save, and eat well in the meantime.  By keeping ingredients from rice to spices in the cupboard, and supplementing with local produce from the market, meals are easy to whip up in even the smallest of kitchens.  What tastes better on bitter Boston evening than crock-pot stews of root vegetables, or spicy greens and heirloom tomatoes on a city summer day?  By foraging for zesty foods to enhance staples, you can forget the Mickey D’s and have a truly happy meal!

creepy ronald6unhappy-meal

While it would be sustainable and great to source all of your food from local, organic farms and markets – especially with reports of food safety and genetic modification cropping up too often in the news – it is not entirely possible for those of us who still eat iceberg lettuce and canned peaches from the dining hall a few times a week.  Here are some tips for those out there short on time, cash, and ingredients:

1)    Explore your local farmers’ markets. It is a great place to find out what’s going locally, and meet the farmers who are growing your produce or producing your meats.  Spend the afternoon perusing the seasonal selections, and ask others how to prepare some of the more “exotic” finds like kohlrabi and kale.

2)    Join a CSA or community garden! Opportunities to get your hands dirty and see where your food comes from make the food on your table taste that much sweeter.  Splitting the costs of the share or plot with foodie friends can also cut down on costs, and splitting the goods and making meals together is always more fun.

3)    Have a potluck with friends and screen films that celebrate good food from family farms.  Choose one ingredient to be the “focus food” and make dishes that bring out its flavors…and share the recipes with friends.

4)    Buy organic and local when you can. There are lists like this one that expose the “dirty dozen” foods to avoid.  If your food is healthy, then you are healthy.

5)    Eat sustainable on the go. Even if you are grabbin’ and goin’ there are many companies and local joints that uphold tenets of sustainability and serve good food to go.  Chipotle is one such place to get some grub and do some good.

6)    Take action to change your campus. By joining student groups that promote local food, the organic movement, or celebrate sustainability, you can bring change to your campus food system.  Check out what’s going on at Northeastern University, and start working on your school!


Caroline has been part of the HOMEGROWN and Farm Aid family since she first volunteered at the Farm Aid concert in 2008, and again in 2009. In the winter and summer semesters of 2010, she came on staff as a Northeastern University Co-op intern. She graduates in May (congratulations!) and you’ll soon be seeing a lot more of her here as the HOMEGROWN Flock-tender! Welcome Caroline! We’re lucky to have you!


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3 Responses to “HOMEGROWN Life: Six Tips For Eating HOMEGROWN On A College Kid Budget”

  1. Creativity is key. You’ve got it!

  2. maryann valaitis Says:

    Caroline Malcolm ROCKS! and will/and always has done amazing things 🙂

  3. Great post! I love the McDonald’s photo:) Congrats on your upcoming Graduation, Caroline!

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