Student meals

Cooking on a college budget

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Nick Carducci never expected to make it to social news site Reddit’s front page.

“I figured I would be downvoted into oblivion for posting a stale idea,” Carducci said, referencing redditors’ ability to to push down content on the site they dislike.

That supposedly stale idea? A budget cooking website for university students.

Carducci’s post didn’t just make it to the front page, in fact. It shot to the very top of the site, gathering 2,464 comments and nearly 20,000 upvotes.

That’s attention Carducci just couldn’t ignore. Within hours he had created the site, Poor Student’s Cookbook.

Carducci, a junior at the University of Michigan, said his only professional experience is working as a cook in the school’s dining hall.

But that’s kind of the point.

“I'm not pretending to be a chef,” he wrote. “ I'm just a kid trying to cook food for myself, and if other people want to eat what I cook then that's excellent.”

Carducci plans to live on his own next semester, and he didn’t want to subsist off a traditional college bachelor diet of instant noodles and cheap beer.

“Instead of settling for mediocrity,” Carducci wrote. “I decided to use my summer to learn how to cook on a budget.”

He found out he was pretty good at it. So good, in fact, that his roommate suggested posting the idea to Reddit. Why not create a website that can teach college students how to cook real food for $3 a meal -- a kind of public service for the culinary and financially deprived?

Carducci isn’t sure just how much traffic he’s received: all he knows is that the site already has over 200 registered users, and has moved 6 gigabytes of data. Each of his five posts has dozens of comments. Will the interest last? Who knows.

But traffic from Reddit’s front page is the kind of attention over which any webmaster would salivate.

The same goes for the two recipes Carducci has already posted to the site: a simple chicken fajita, and a chocolate ganache cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.