Tag Archives: food

A Year of Cooking

After successfully not starving for a year, I thought I’d talk a little bit about my experience with cooking during my first year with a kitchen of my own.

Item number one: startup. I don’t have exact numbers of how much I spent or the exact items I bought, but I can give you a few ballparks. You’re probably going to spend a couple hundred dollars in “startup cost,” filling up your cupboards with staples like flour, sugar, butter, rice, pasta, salt, cooking oils (things you’ll use in a lot of recipes), and some ingredients for your first few weeks of cooking.

Item number two: maintenance cost, aka how much you’ll spend continuously throughout the year. I mean, food doesn’t last forever, so you gotta keep spending. I’ll be honest: my first term was pretty cheap for me because my parents bought me a LOT of food before they left me here. However, here are a few things I’ve noted:

  • Lots of things might seem expensive when you buy them, but if they last a long time then it’s money you’ll be saving later.
  • Sales are the greatest things! Save On Foods even has an app so you can hunt through their flyers. Expensive items such as cheese become a lot more affordable when sale time rolls around.
  • Eating out/buying coffee or snacks is not an all-the-time thing. Sure, it’s convenient, but spending $4 on a latte every day is gonna kill you (financially). A lesson learned the hard way by many. Pack a lunch and save your dollars.
  • Buying brand name is not necessary. Every little bit adds up on grocery bills, so if the no-name is cheaper and the quality is practically the same, save yourself a few bucks and get the store brand. Do this on a lot of items, and the savings add up.

Item number three: actually cooking. There are a basically four ways which I acquire food: easy/instant meal, frozen food, more involved cooking meal, and eating out. As I said before, eating out is a once-in-a-while thing, as it’s very expensive and usually not very healthy. Stuff you can put together really fast without much thought is really great, you just have to make sure you’re eating healthy as well. Quesadillas, hot dogs, scrambled eggs, frozen pizza, and pasta with tomato sauce are all yummy and fast, but it’s important to get some kind of green in there as well. (Canada’s Food Guide recommends you eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable per day, plus two more other fruits or vegetables.) I also find that easy and fast meals can get pretty old pretty fast.

This brings me to more involved cooking and frozen food. The two go hand in hand. Pre-cooking, one of my favourite things to do, involves putting aside an hour or two on a weekend to make a bigger meal which will last all week. Usually this results in healthier meals, more variety, saves time during the week when you’re busy, and a lot of the time costs less than buying individual meals. Or if you don’t want to eat all of it in the same week (or if it won’t keep in the fridge), you freeze that bad boy and it’s ready to go.

Some of my favourite pre-cooked meals include: risotto, tacos, casseroles of many varieties, and stir fries. Next year I plan to venture into more cooking adventures; I meant to try pulled pork this year but I bought so much frozen food that I’m trying to eat it all before I leave Vancouver for the summer!

Do you have any cooking ideas? Leave a comment!

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Cooking: The Second-Year’s Nemesis

Chances are, if you were living in residence for your residence, you are now living in some sort of accommodation that includes a kitchen and now you are staring at the cupboards and appliances which stare back at you unhelpfully and you realize: you have to cook for yourself. Yikes.

Maybe you’re one of those people who always cooked a lot for themselves at home anyway, so it isn’t really a big deal, but I am not one of those people; my parents always made the meals in our house. That’s just the way it was. So when I was left alone in my kitchen to try to feed myself, I was anxious. What should I make? Will I screw it up? Will I make a mess, will I break something? Will I over spend on food?

I’ve been cooking for myself for approximately the past two and half weeks (although it feels much longer than that), and I’m feeling much less nervous now. Once you get the hang of things, it isn’t so hard to manage. So although I am no expert, here is my method of feeding myself and relatively healthily and cheaply.

  • Start with what you know. Make a list of all the things you know how to make and what you’ve made before. Gather recipes that your mom made at home so that the familiar tastes will remind you of home and not feel like such a shock. Speaking of mom, get her to walk you through some basics of cooking and a few of your favourite recipes before you leave.
  • Plan ahead. Figure out what you want to eat for most of the week and do a shopping trip at the beginning of the week so you don’t have to go to the store every other day. That way if you also need to take something out of the freezer to make later that night, you’ll remember and not have to deal with frozen pasta sauce that won’t come out of its tupperware.
  • Freeze things. Cooking for one can be challenging, especially since most food is sold in fairly large packages.There’s nothing more disappointing than having your food go off before you can eat it, and things like pasta sauce and cheese can go bad pretty fast. So once I open a jar of pasta sauce, I freeze in serving-size tupperware what I don’t need right away, and when I buy a package of cheese I grate about two thirds of it and freeze it and leave the rest in the fridge. If you’re sharing a fridge/freezer with a lot of people and don’t have room, you’ll have to get creative. Maybe try coordinating shared meals with your roommates? I only have to share with one other person, so I have it easy…
  • Cook ahead. Cooking during the week when you have no time can suck, so making a larger meal on the weekend and then eating leftovers all week can save you the trouble. This week is taco week for me!
  • One thing I like to do to stay healthy is to make sure I have at least one thing from each food group in every meal. Well, the big meals anyway. Breakfast I tend to skip out on the meat group.  I find the hardest thing to get enough of is fruits and vegetables, but what I’ve found that fresh fruit and vegetables like grapes or carrots can easily be added to a meal to fill it out. And frozen vegetables like peas and corn are SUPER easy and fast to make in the microwave.
  • My words on eating cheap: stalk the flyers, take advantage of deals, and don’t buy what you don’t need. Good deals are a no brainer, but sometimes people forget that they don’t really need chips or granola bars, or the most expensive brand of cereal.  In addition, meat such as chicken is usually much cheaper than its equivalent in beef, so maybe hold back on the cow.  Budget yourself, and see what you need to improve on in your spending habits.

I think my favourite go-to food is the quesadilla: fast, easy, and melty-cheese-good. Probably not coincidental that it’s also one of my favourite comfort foods. :P

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Pacific National Exhibition

Since school starts in only 2 days, my friends and I figured, why not have some fun before summer ends? Following that the natural course of action was to head to The Fair at the Pacific National Exhibition. About an hour and a half and a very stressful jam-packed bus ride later, we arrived at the fair and were swept away in the massive crowds of people.

Stop number one? Corn dogs. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten one before today. It’s not exactly the world’s finest delicacy, but not bad either and definitely a life experience I can check off my bucket list. Okay, it wasn’t actually on my list but it’s still a life experience.  We walked around the park and considered buying ride tickets, but then decided we’d rather save our money for something like groceries, or internet bills.

We went to the Super Dogs show, which was actually really impressive and made my day with their corny cartoon-for-ten-year-olds style theme song. Seriously though, those dogs can jump really high! We also went to the barn, and what with the dog show plus the baby chickens/ducks/bunnies/goats/cows/horses there was very nearly a cuteness overload.

The fair also had a Star Trek exhibit, and although I’m not a Trekkie, my friend Kim is a huuuge one. We watched part of the newest movie while waiting in line to get in, and the costumes and props they had on display were really neat. There were also some photo ops in some reconstructed sets; I wish we had bought one so I could show you, but again, groceries need buying. In one, Christie was wearing a green shirt in front of a green screen, so she was invisible, in another, I had the most intense face on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, and then we were all rather awkwardly confused in the teleported room.

However, the day would not be complete without more carnival food. I opted to wait for supper until I got home, but I did buy an order of deep fried Oreos – they were totally worth the five bucks and the thousand calories. Kim got a deep fried pop tart, but both paled in comparison to Christie and Natasha’s pick: deep fried wagon wheels. Imagine an ooey gooey s’more melted inside a warm fluffy donut. Heaven in your mouth, I’m tellin’ ya.

Today was a good day of fun, of not worrying about school coming up, of not stressing over my hurting shoulder muscles. A day of exploring this fabulous city of Vancouver, because what a waste it would be to live here for four years and not see any of it.

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Free Frozen Yogurt Today!

What better way to celebrate only 10 days until the start of school than with some free frozen yogurt? Menchie’s in Wesbrook Village is giving away free frozen yogurt today until 5 pm. Prepare yourself for above average deliciousness levels.  There’s a line around the corner, but who cares? It’s still summer, it’s not like I have anything better to do. And I mean, you say free food, and I’m there.

Hint hint, event planners?

That yogurt sure was delish! And since their hours are 11-10 most days, it might be a good place for a late night study snack…

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Fave Places to Eat On Campus

I’m no foodie, but as a first year living in residence, you can’t eat in the cafeteria EVERY night.  I mean, it’s good as far as cafeterias go, but there are definitely nights when you walk in and you’re not in the mood for anything they’re serving.  So as a non-food-expert, here are my top five places to get some noms on campus.

5. Subway in Pacific Spirit Place.  What can I say, I love Subway.  Conveniently located in the SUB, I can just go get me a good six inch sandwich. Omnomnom. And y’know, they happen to take your meal plan dollars there, if you happen to be a student living in a first year residence.


4. Booster Juice.  I don’t normally go here for actual meal-type food, but I sure do love me a Booster Juice smoothie.  (I realize it’s in the Village and not REALLY on campus, but it’s close enough.) Real fruit and healthiness and boosters with more nutrients in them… Ah.  So nice.  (And yes, they take the UBC Card/flex dollars!)


3. The Honour Roll.  Well, when you want sushi, you want sushi.  Many experienced sushi eaters I know have told me that the Honour Roll isn’t the greatest and is over priced, but for me, well hey, it’s pretty good.  I mean, yeah I have had better sushi, but it was in a higher end sit-down restaurant.  And this stuff sure beats the boxed sushi they sell in the dining hall.  And as an added bonus for students on the meal plan, they accept the meal plan flex dollars, so you don’t need to pay anymore than the couple thousand dollars you already have.


2. Pie R Squared.  When it comes to pizza on campus, this is where I like to eat.  Heck, when it comes to pizza anywhere, this is where I like to eat.  I used to be a Fresh Slice fanatic, but I’ve made the switch to Pie R Squared; there’s just something about their dough and their ingredients that makes the pizza lover in me happy.


1. Blue Chip Cookies.  Okay, it isn’t a place where you’d get a substantial meal, but dude!  Those cookies just make life a whole lot sweeter.  The Marbelous just makes my world go round.  And the muffins are pretty great too.  And you can use your meal plan flex dollars there, which if you couldn’t tell is a huge plus for me!


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