Home Cooking Tips

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“Learn to cook. You’ll save money and time, and for the arts students, you’ll be able to show your parents that not all of the decisions you made at university were bad ones.”

— Zubair Hirji

For a lot of students at UBC, university is the first time in their lives where planning for their next meal is slightly more complicated than opening the fridge and munching on leftovers. Home cooking at university requires careful planning. Cooking your own meals while studying can be daunting. Having to juggle a university-level workload, a fast-paced social life and multiple commitments to clubs and activities can have us feed on Kraft Dinner, instant ramen or a combination of the two to ensure our subsistence.

Some people will opt for eating out often and others will have the benefit of a meal plan, but truth be told, if you can manage it, home cooking is cheap, fun, empowering and useful. Now on to the tips!

You boil the water first, then you put in the pasta, not the other way around.

Okay, now that we got the obvious out the way, we can move on to more useful pieces of advice.

IKEA is your best friend

To cook at home, you need cookware. The best place to get all of it for cheap is of course IKEA, a student’s best friend since 1943. Getting the bare minimum to cook most recipes should cost you between $100 and $150. Get some knives, pots, pans, cutting boards, a strainer, a spatula, a stirring spoon, plastic containers and maybe a mixer.

Have a few recipes you know well

The secret to cooking for yourself is pretty simple: figure out a list of four or five recipes that you like, are cheap and simple, utilize a bit of one another’s ingredients and you will not mind eating over and over again for the next four years of your life. Having a culinary routine will come in handy during exam time and paper season, and will make cooking second nature.

Meat is tasty, but expensive

Yes, meat tastes good, but it’s expensive (and also arguably bad for the planet). What else is there to say? If you’re an omnivore, try to consume less meat and opt for poultry instead of red meat if you can. Eating lots of beans is also still good and keeps you away from only eating tofu. If you’re a vegetarian, you’re already used to enjoying lower monthly food expenses. Trust me, your wallet will be grateful ­­— and after all, we’re already living in Vancouver.

Meal prepping is key

A common misconception about home cooking is that you cook every time you eat. This does not have to be true! If you cook in bulk, preparing for the week ahead, you will save loads of time and spare yourself the time and energy of washing pots and pans every day.

Whether you’re moving to Vancouver in the fall or are choosing to stay at home, given that the semester will be online, these tips are kid tested, mother approved, and will last throughout your entire career as a student ‘subsistence cuisine’ chef.

“Learn to cook. You’ll save money and time, and for the arts students, you’ll be able to show your parents that not all of the decisions you made at university were bad ones.”

— Zubair Hirji
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