College Kitchen: Purchasing with Purchase

Don’t let the food desert get you down.

College Kitchen: Purchasing with Purchase

Alexander Brodsky

We’ve all considered hitchhiking to carry our bags back from the grocery store. Such is life in the University of Minnesota food desert.

You don’t have to succumb to hopping in a stranger’s van, though. A backpack’s worth of groceries is all you need to eat well for a week, provided you shop smart.

 The key is to eliminate any waste in the kitchen, though using every bit of every ingredient takes planning. Ideally, you’ll want to use a single vegetable or meat through a number of different meals.

Learning to plan meals effectively takes experience. As your recipe repertoire grows, so too will your ability to plan ahead in the kitchen. With enough practice, meal planning will become a natural part of your trips to the grocery store.

Soon enough, you’ll be navigating the produce aisle with your eyes closed. Your shopping cart will look like a pro’s. And your cashier? Astonished.


Simple pan-seared hamburgers


1 pound ground chuck


Sliced cheese


Tomato, chopped

Onion, chopped

Salt and pepper

Olive oil


Form several four-inch patties, patting them until they’re about half an inch thick and being careful to not overwork the meat. Mixing ground meat too much can cause it to crumble apart when cooked.

Liberally salt and pepper both sides, lightly pressing the seasoning into the patties with your hands.

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Be sure to wait until the pan is hot enough before putting the burgers in. They should immediately sizzle.

After 3-4 minutes, gently flip each burger, taking care to not scrape off the newly-formed crust with your spatula.

Brown the other side for another 3-4 minutes. If you’re adding cheese to your burger, top each patty with a slice about a minute before it’s done cooking and cover your skillet to let it melt.

After cooking, move each patty to a paper towel-lined plate. This will help remove some of the grease from the burger.


Spaghetti Carbonara


1/2 pound spaghetti

2 large eggs

1/2 cup grated parmesan

2 slices bacon, diced


Olive oil


Boil and lightly salt water for the pasta.

In a small bowl, scramble the two eggs and mix thoroughly with the grated parmesan.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan over high. Fry the bacon bits, constantly stirring, until brown and slightly crispy —about 6 minutes.

Immediately after draining the pasta, combine with the egg mixture and the bacon. The heat from the cooked pasta and bacon will cook the egg mixture into a creamy sauce.

Due to the saltiness of the bacon, season liberally with only pepper and serve immediately.