Posted by: | 26th May, 2014

Cooking Tips!

by Jenna Ostash

Hi There!

 Whether you’re new to suite-style living, or have been here for years, I’m sure most of you struggle with the ever-present dilemma, should I get off my butt and cook a meal, or should I go grab some quick food from somewhere? If you’re anything like me, when academics and other commitments start to pile up, the first thing to go is my eating habits. When I’m stressed I start to feel like I don’t have time to cook an entire meal and opt for a quick (unhealthy) bite from the Village, which can be hard on both the budget and the waistline.

 Here are a few tips that I’ve learned through experience (and through being raised by a thrifty mom!) on saving money and time by cooking smartly, it can’t hurt that the food is way healthier too!

 1. Use Your Freezer!

The freezer is an often under-utilized tool for keeping food on hand and saving money at the grocery store. It’s not just good for Ben & Jerry’s, but you can store most foods in it for a long time, including meats, veggies, as well as fully cooked meals.  If you live in a studio like I do, consider purchasing a “mini-freezer”. They cost around $200-$300 but they can save you a lot of time and money in the long run!

  1. Buy In Bulk!

Speaking of using your freezer, when you buy large quantities of (freezable) things, you can save a ton of money. Forget about those items that come in individual packets (single-portion chicken breasts anyone?) and do it yourself. Buy a lot and use freezer-safe baggies to make individual portions. I like to buy the massive packs of ground-beef ($12 for 2kg from Save-On) and weigh them into 1/3lb portions and freeze them flat.

  1. Plan Ahead!

On the weekends or when you have some more free time, it’s a good idea to plan your meals for the week. This means figuring out what you’re going to eat each day and buying all the ingredients you might need. It’s also a good idea to try to make any “large-batch” items like quinoa salad etc. on the weekend then you can eat the left-overs all week. Plan to eat these leftovers especially on the days you know you’re going to be very busy. If you know that you have a meal planned for each day, it makes you much less likely to pop out to McDonald’s for a Big Mac.

  1. Make Big Batches!

One of my favourite tips for cooking at home more is to make big batches of some staple meals and freezing them in individual portions. Some of my favourites include pasta sauce cooked with lots of veggies and spices , homemade chili, pulled pork (you can even freeze buns!), and homemade chicken soup. On those days when you have no motivation to cook, it’s nice to be able to pull out and thaw some yummy homemade pasta sauce and boil some noodles or have a bowl of delicious homemade soup. Another low-prep big-batch option is to invest in a slow cooker. You can just throw the ingredients in, turn it on, leave for the day, and come back to a delicious meal – I like to do my pulled pork in there.

 If you’re interested in any of the recipes I’ve mentioned here, feel free to email me at jenna.d.ostash@gmail.com and I’d be happy to send them your way!

 Happy studying and happy cooking!

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