The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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The Menu: Affordable eating

If you ask a student on campus about what they eat on a daily basis, they might joke and say that they survive on Cup Noodles.

For a number of students, there is some truth to that. According to a Health Affairs survey, 30% of college students faced food insecurities. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 30% of college students faced food insecurities, showing that it is a real issue college students face. There are, however, options both on and off campus to help relieve this issue.

One resource students can utilize is the Food Pantry, located in Laurel Hall, right next to Sagebrush Hall on Plummer Street. Students in need can visit once a week and go home with a bag of groceries at no cost. In the bag of groceries, students typically receive canned goods, pasta noodles, pre-packaged chicken, and an assortment of other items.

Grocery prices have gone up considerably in the last couple of years. According to the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the annual food price increase was about 2%, but during 2021-22 it skyrocketed to 11%.

With how expensive groceries have become, students have to become more cost-conscious and creative, but it is still possible to cook tasty meals–even on a budget.

Not all groceries have to be expensive, nor do they have to all come from the same predictable stores. Local farmers markets are an excellent source of fresh produce for an affordable price. They offer locally-grown fruits and vegetables for lower prices than average chain supermarkets. On campus, the CSUN Farmers Market is every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on East University Drive and Cleary Walk East, just west of the University Student Union. Off campus, the Northridge Farmers Market happens every Wednesday night from 5-9 p.m. at the Northridge Fashion Center Mall.

Another place to get affordable groceries is Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is a staple of Los Angeles grocery stores with low prices on many pre-packaged meals that don’t require too much cooking. They also have a selection of frozen meals, including chicken fried rice, burrito bowls and their famous orange chicken, all under $5.
Budgeting is also a useful tool for saving money while grocery shopping. Overspending can be avoided by going into a grocery store with a plan for getting what you need under a budget of how much you can spend.

Meal prepping is a great way to use groceries efficiently. Preparing meals at the beginning of the week and storing them in reusable containers makes eating simpler. It is also an easy way to make sure meals are nutritious and delicious.

We are fortunate to live in a time when we do not have to open up a recipe book to see how to cook something. Social media, especially TikTok, can show anyone how to cook thousands of recipes, ranging from simple to more complex ones.

With that in mind, here are a few simple recipes that use ingredients that you can find from any of the places mentioned, including the CSUN Food Pantry, Trader Joe’s, and both of the local farmers markets.



Chili Chicken Taquitos

1 can chili beans
1/4 of pre-packaged chicken
4 mini tortillas
1/2 cup of cheese
1 quart olive oil

Recommended seasoning:

1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Pour the beans into a saucepan with heat on low and stir for about 8-10 minutes.

Put out the tortillas onto a flat surface.

Take out chicken and season if desired.

Put cheese, chicken and chili beans into mini tortillas.

Roll into taquitos.

Pour oil into another pan and fry the taquitos for 3-5 minutes until desired crispiness.


Spaghetti Bolognese

1/2 red onion
1/4 red bell pepper
1/4 of a green bell pepper
1/10 can tomato paste
3/4 pound of ground beef
1 can of crushed tomato
Spaghetti noodles
2 teaspoons olive oil


Dice the red onion and bell peppers.

Sauté the vegetables with oil in a pan for about 2-3 minutes. You should be able to smell the vegetables cooking when you sauté.

Add tomato paste into the pan and mix well until not chunky anymore.

Cook spaghetti noodles with boiling water in a large pot for 7-10 minutes.

Add in ground beef and cook until about 80% done.

Add in a can of crushed tomatoes and stir until not chunky.

Add cooked noodles to the pan and stir.


Breakfast Parfait

Greek yogurt
(Fruit of your choice)
1 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup granola




Grab a bowl and add yogurt.

Add in fruit of choice.

Stir yogurt and fruit.

Add in honey. It doesn’t have to be just a tablespoon; add until the desired sweetness is reached.

Stir honey into yogurt.

Pour granola in. Again, it doesn’t have to be one cup, add as much as desired.

Stir granola into the yogurt.


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