Slow cooker: A college student's best friend

A slow cooker is the perfect answer for a college student short on time and money, but big on appetite.

By , Contributor

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    This Crock-Pot 'Rival' can be programmed so that dinner is ready when you are. For a college student on a tight budget, a Crock-Pot almost replaces Mom's homecooked meals – almost.

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The college that I went to had a cafeteria and a meal plan. It was located about an hour away from the next major city (and just about everything else). My room and board were included in my tuition because I lived on campus. I never had to cook. The cleaning ladies even attacked our bathrooms every day for us with lemon-scented substances and heavy-duty rubber gloves.

Now I live in an apartment in a big city with no cleaning ladies or meal plans in sight. It was very exciting to move all my stuff into my room and get it set up just the way I wanted it. And then I stepped into the kitchen.

It was empty, and I didn’t know how to fill it. At home, the fridge was always full of things to eat, and my parents are like Rumplestiltskins of the kitchen – spinning beautiful meals from whatever there was lying around. (Mostly dog hair, if I remember correctly.)

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Now, I’m not a bad cook. My parents have taught me a thing or two, and I know to tie on an apron. But cooking takes time – time to prepare ingredients, time to mix them all together, and time to wait for it all to cook. And food is expensive, too! Who knew? I’m spending all my (parent’s) money on rent and food.

But then my mom sent this recipe for Buffalo Chicken. And I got a slow cooker. (Cue the chorus of angels.)

All told, you will only need to spend $10 on groceries, it’s easy to make (just throw some ingredients in there!), you'll have a week's worth of dinners, and it’s unbelievably tasty. I can’t recommend this recipe enough.

Slow cookers are easy to find, too. I have a friend who was riding his bike and found one on the side of the road. He took it back to his apartment, washed it out, turned it on, and “threw some potatoes and stuff in there.” We’ve had entire conversations about the benefits of slow cookers.

Crock-Pot Buffalo Chicken

3 lbs. boneless chicken breast

1 12-ounce bottle of Frank’s Buffalo Wings Sauce

1 packet of Ranch Dip Mix

2 tablespoons butter

Some bread, rolls preferably

1. Put frozen chicken, wing sauce, and ranch dip mix into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.

2. Using two forks, shred chicken, then return to the slow cooker (you can shred it while it's still in the pot too, as long as you don't plunge your hands into the hot lava). Add butter. Cook on low for an additional hour.

3. Serve on toasted deli rolls with pepper jack cheese or bleu cheese dressing (if desired).

4. Eat and enjoy.

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