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Eating on a Budget

-- 2012-02-24 4:00 am --

Eating frugally is a necessary survival skill for the college student. Dad is broke, and Aunt Fanny stopped sending birthd ay card checks.

Being broke is bad, but eating shouldn’t be a sad and drab affair, pushing Ramen noodles and beanies and weenies around the plate night after bloody night. There’s a solution for the boring Ramen noodle diet, and it starts with the zip-lock plastic baggy.

Scout the Local Pubs

The first task to eating frugally but well is to scout the local bars, saloons and nightclubs. Check the newspapers and free entertainment broadsheets for ads announcing happy hour, brunches and TGIF snacks. These are the targets.

The time of these free feasts should be noted. The smart, frugal college student will make an appearance at selected watering holes about 15 minutes after the feasts are laid out. Showing up any later than that and all that’s left is scraps and bones.

Baggy Pockets Increase Bounty

The proper attire must be worn. That means a nice jacket, blazer or sweater with several large pockets to line with plastic baggies. Don’t stuff food in pants because it’s easy to forget that plate of spaghetti in the back pocket. Sitting down will be a nasty reminder.

Money is needed to buy a drink. That’s the price of admission. The interest returned will be well worth the price.

Scouting the Chicken Wings

The student must walk into the club confident, like a longtime customer, and reconnoiter the buffet table. The chicken wings location should be noted. Grabbing the head-of-the-line position is not a good tactic. Everyone is looking at the first people in line and counting how many wings they’re taking.

When 65 percent of the wings are gone, it’s time for action. Everyone is busy eating and won’t be watching the table.

Harvesting Chicken Wings

Walk to the wings serving plate, and set one wing on the plate. Pick up another, and drop it in the baggy in the pocket. Get into a rhythm. One on the plate. One for the plastic baggy. One for the plate. One for the zip-lock. Continue the process until the feeling of eyeballs watching becomes overwhelming. Nobody is watching, though. It’s simply the good angel saying that’s enough.

Move now to the cocktail meatballs. One on the plate. One in the pocket. When there’s enough for a meatball sandwich, stop. Hot dogs and bratwurst slip easily into the pocket. Avoid the breast pocket as they might slip out when bending over. Avoid the chips and pretzels. Don’t be cheap.

Avoid Food that Slithers

Avoid any food that can run, slither or crawl. That includes jello, stew, spaghetti, chili and creme cake. The chance of smuggling them out in appetizing condition is nil.

If someone sees you loading cheese souffle in a pocket, explain that you’re a college student, and it’s for your sick puppy. Everyone who has gone to college will understand. It’s good to work in teams with each member specializing in different food categories.