Hello from The Student! (And Tomato Bisque)

Hi there, everyone!

First, a bit about me. I am a brand new Ph.D. student. That means that I’m leaving the luxurious life of an undergrad (where all my meals and living expenses were taken care of by a combination of the cafeteria and my parents) and entering the dark scary world of paying rent, paying other bills (INTERNET!), and… cooking for myself! (Gasp!)

And all this on a graduate student budget. So, cheap.

And there’s very little out there about eating cheaply but tastily.

Trust me. As I started doing the research last year to find out about budgets and stuffs for graduate students, I did a lot of Google searching. And I found very little of interest. All right, there was some stuff on there about how to still survive as a vegan/vegetarian/health-nut/etc. on a budget, but I’m not any of those!! I happen to really like eating tasty things (like cookies and things with butter), but there wasn’t much info on doing so cheaply which I could find.

So I’m aiming to fix that. I intend to make food that I like (insofar as I can without sacrificing internet or coffee) but (hopefully) inexpensively. At the very least, realistically. Odds are high I’ll end up just cooking up a thing of Mac & Cheese for dinner a few times when I’m running tight on my budget, since it’s cheap and I love that stuff. (Taste of my childhood! Yay!)

But I digress. I’m talking about the blog, and how hopefully this will help someone. 🙂

To start off with, I’ll share what I made tonight.

Tomato Bisque Soup and Chicken for about $2 a serving.

(Makes 2 servings.)

(Yes, I made some assumptions and did some rounding here in my estimations.)

Inexpensive tomato bisque soup with other tasty stuff.
Yup. That cost something around $2.00 for materials. Plus or minus a bit.

Yeah, I know… I need to work on my food photography skills. Sorry.

But this was really good. And surprisingly filling. And easy!

Ingredients (and approximate price.)

  • 1 can of Campbell’s tomato soup. ($1 from the local dollar store.)
  • About 7/8 of 1 can’s worth of milk. (Call it about 1 cup? Maybe 1.5 cups? Regardless, if a gallon of milk costs $5, then a cup would cost about 30 cents. So, between $0.30 and $0.50. Being generous.) (Cost so far: $1.50 for two servings.)
  • About 1 Tbsp of Half & Half. (Or, the rest of the can.) (Cost: less than $0.10.) (And yes, I know- this is not a true bisque because of the lack of true cream. It still tastes good. 🙂 )
  • Parsley and basil.
  • 1 Tbsp butter (I bought in bulk. Less than $0.10.)
  • 1 Tbsp onion (I’m not sure on the cost of these.)
  • Salt.
  • 1 Chicken Breast. This is where some of the real expense, and guessing, comes in. The chicken my roommate and I purchased was at about $2.20 a pound. I think the breast I got out of the freezer was no more than 3/4 lb. But suppose it was a $2.00 chicken breast, which would be about .9 pounds, or almost half a pound per person. This is up to you, after all. That puts the total cost at about $3.70 for two servings, or $1.85 per serving, leaving a bit for extras.
  • Extras: Spinach and Cheese. I got a bag of spinach for $1.99. We used a few leaves- CERTAINLY no more than 1/10 of the bag. So, $0.10 per serving. I also purchased a bulk thing of Mozzarella. (I love shredded Mozzarella! It’s one of my favorites. 🙂 ) I think I put about a tablespoon in. By my estimations, that would put it at call it $0.10. $1.75 + $0.10 + $0.10 = $2.05. But that assumes that all the “less than $0.10” expenses were, in fact, $0.10. And that 1.5 Cups of milk at $5/gallon were used. It’s also still pretty  close to $2.00 a serving. (Less, if you don’t add either the spinach or the cheese. MUCH less if you use less than half a pound of chicken per person, which I am quite sure I did!)


Cut chicken into smaller chunks, and cook until done. (I did not season it.)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cook onions in 1 TBSP of heated butter until translucent. (Do not brown them.)

When onions are about done, pour the can of soup into the pan. Instead of using water as the instructions would have you do, use the milk and half & half instead. Stir. Add a pinch of dried basil, a pinch of dried parsley, and salt to taste. Stir until heated.

Chicken and tomato bisque soup on a budget
Chicken and Tomato Bisque. (The amount of chicken I put into my bowl.)

Once the soup is heated and the chicken cooked, remove from heat. Get a couple of bowls ready, with a few spinach leaves and chicken in each bowl. Ladle soup into the bowl, on top of the spinach. (There should be about two bowl-fulls of soup.) Sprinkle some cheese on top, and enjoy!

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