Where to start?
Ahh, food – we need it but no magic genie’s going to put it on your plate…except maybe The Colonel or Ronald McDonald. And sure, you can hook into junk here or there, but a daily diet won’t keep you or your wallet healthy; ditto for a coffee and ciggie brekkie. Yep, you can’t survive on two-minute noodles forever. But how do you get started?
Feeding yourself? Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy!
Relax, feeding yourself isn’t brain surgery – anyone can cook, there’s no need to be a Masterchef. There’re loads of tricks to make yummy, easy (seriously), quick, healthy food (mind you, there’s nothing wrong with chip sandwiches on an off day either). How impressed will your buddies be when you feed them more than pizza! Why not go all out and do dessert? Plus, good food ALWAYS impresses the opposite sex.
Ten years later, they’re still going strong…and Dan still makes a mean sandwich.
First, you need ingredients.
It’s good to stock the kitchen with some long-lasting supplies (See Checklist: food shopping for a printable list). Then every few days or so, pick up whatever fresh food you want (vegies and fruit, eggs &/or poultry, meat or alternatives, fish, dairy or soy etc.).
As far as fresh food goes, basically, you’ve got two options:
- Take a list of what you need for recipes you want to cook. E.g. pick your meals, then make up a list of the ingredients you’ll need for them.
- Fly by the seat of your pants. Go shopping, get fresh food that’s on spesh, then work out what to do with it (I like this way as you can get cheaper, fresher stuff, but it depends if you’re more of a creative or an organised type).
Many sites or apps let you filter by ingredient (e.g. chicken), food course (e.g. dinner), reader rating &/or type of cuisine (e.g. Mexican), plus you can get help with shopping lists and how to cook stuff.
Keep it cheap tips
- Generics are great – same quality without the brand name; same with pharmaceuticals (same ingredients, different name).
- Try to buy in bulk if it’s long-lasting (rice, flour, sugar, cereal, peanut butter etc).
- Cheaper supermarket chains like Aldi can save you money on basics – just get your specialty items somewhere else.
- Shopping at the end of the day gets you bargains in deli or cooked foods departments – like a cheap bbq chook for dinner (leftovers for sandwiches, soup or and/or fried rice or noodles).
Make it last
Store food properly and it’ll keep longer – plus you won’t get weevils, cupboards full of moths, maggots or little black bugs, and you’ll hopefully avoid mice and cockroaches. Yummy!
- Put flour in the fridge or an airtight container.
- Same goes for rice.
- Potatoes, ginger and garlic: out of plastic and into a basket or box lined with newspaper somewhere dark and cool.
- Cereals, biscuits, sugar etc. ideally in containers or, at a pinch, sealed with a rubber band.
- Freeze meat, chicken or fish you don’t plan to use within a day or two – defrost it overnight in the fridge or in the microwave.
Get stocked up
Fruits, vegies and proteins (like eggs, tofu, meat, chicken or whatever) plus bread are a good start. Get a printable checklist for the rest here
Some ideas? Salt-and-pepper chicken with Chinese five-spice; Japanese frozen edamame (boil five minutes then eat out of the shell); sushi (spread nori sheets with cooked rice and a strip of tuna or cucumber then roll up); make a quick soup with Vietnamese pho stock cubes (boil with onion, add meat, chicken or vegies and serve on rice noodles, with herbs & bean shoots. Fancy.) or rub curry powder or paste into chicken pieces or lamb (chops or roast) then bake.
Asian grocers often sell cheap crockery and other bits and pieces too.
Fad diets: Practically everyone has an allergy or intolerance to something, but strict food fads, on the other hand, can make you just plain annoying to be around. Daisy’s “no white foods” diet, for example, not only made her an unpopular dinner guest, it cost her nutrients, energy and even food-sharing with her household, as nobody else wanted to go without potatoes, bread, pasta, dairy, tofu, cauliflower and chicken. Frankly, if you’re overly fussy it can seem rude – you mightn’t get another invite.