Sean Collins knows how easy it is to pick up a burger or slice of pizza instead of cooking: the head chef at Pazzo Ristorante and Stratford Chefs School instructor was once an architecture and engineering student. “All I have to do is look at the nutrition information of processed foods to remind myself why I avoid it.” Here’s how students can, too.
In The Kitchen
Rock-star chefs have made cooking took cool. “But the Food Network has raised the expectations for beginning cooks to ridiculous, unattainable levels,” says Evelyn Raab, author of the Clueless in the Kitchen cookbook. Follow simple recipes to make a few favourites well–eggs, rice, pasta – before getting fancy.
Aim for quality, not complexity:
Whether he’s cooking at home or at the restaurant, Collins uses no more than five or six ingredients. “It’s the quality of the ingredients that counts.”
Leftovers protect your wallet from takeout and your willpower against anything deep-fried (the frosh 15 weight gain is no myth). Simmer big pots of chili, soup, stew or curries to refrigerate and eat all week – or freeze portions to defrost later. Turn today’s supermarket rotisserie chicken into tomorrow’s sandwich, soup, wrap or casserole.
Don’t cook at all:
Raab suggests making a meal of salad. Toss prepped greens with olives, cheese, canned chickpeas, diced tomatoes, peppers, shredded carrots and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds. Warm up some bread and. you’re eating in minutes. “You’ll also save lots and eat way better with your own vinaigrette,” says Collins. “Whisk a little less than 3 parts oil into 1 part vinegar.” Add salt and pepper and experiment by adding pinches of spices, honey, maple syrup, fresh garlic, Dijon, or whatever you like.
Mix cooking with socializing:
Dinner solo is boring. Dinner with friends, where you cook together or bring dishes to share, turns eating into an occasion. University of King’s College student Brendan Sangster grocery shops with pals to get new ideas. “Anything to do with housekeeping is way more fun if you make a party out of it.”
In The Supermarket
Steer clear of processed foods:
“Every time someone else does something to your ingredients–like slicing mushrooms or shredding cheese–it adds another layer of cost,” says Raab. Same goes for single servings: a huge bag of quick oats costs the same as six one-serving oatmeal packets.
Buy in bulk, share among many:
Buying in bulk is a great option when you split 20 pounds of rice or flour with friends. But it’s a waste of cash if it’s you against a 10-pound sack of potatoes.
Raid the clearance rack:
Meat may be reduced the day before its best-before date. Eat the same day or freeze it. Raab sees supermarkets marking down perfectly edible over-ripe produce to clear shelves for new stock. “A spotty banana is just a banana bread waiting to be born. Wrinkled peppers or squishy tomatoes are begging to be turned into spaghetti sauce.”
Be a weekday vegetarian:
Meatless meals are better for the planet, your waistline and your wallet. McGill student Avital Oretsky lived off $25 a week by sharing shopping and cooking with roommates. “We ate vegetarian and had diets rich in fresh vegetables, legumes, whole grains and homemade sauces.”
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