So you’ve landed a summer internship, but don’t want to blow your income on daily Chipotle. Follow these guidelines and you’ll save money and have fun learning how to cook.
Planning: Think about your workstation and what appliances are accessible to you. It’s pretty hard to make smoothies if you don’t have a blender. These are a few basic kitchen tools to get you started: chef’s knife, paring knife, knife sharpener, cutting board, frying pan, large pot, baking sheet, colander, mixing bowls and a spatula. Always keep your workstation clean and be respectful of other kitchen users.
Budgeting: Think about how much you want to spend on groceries over the summer; $60/week is a safe estimate. Buy basic nonperishable items in bulk at the beginning of the summer, and take items from your kitchen at home if you can.
Grocery Shopping. Plan your meals before going to the grocery store and keep your ingredients list short. If buying a special ingredient, try to cook two meals that use it so that none of it goes to waste. At the grocery store, be a smart shopper. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry or you’ll end up buying more than you need. Keep fresh produce and items that are about to expire front-and-center in your fridge to remind yourself to use them. Buy family-sized portions of meat (check the price-per-pound for the best deal), divide it and freeze it.
Time to cook! Try cooking just one meal a day and let the other two be quick, assembly meals. One day you could have granola, fruit and yogurt for breakfast, a salad and sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner. Proper seasoning can really elevate a dish and bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients, so use salt, pepper, garlic, onion and other spices in your meals. If you have a free afternoon, you can prepare a lot of food and freeze it for later. Look online for recipes and scan the comments for tips from people who have already tried it out. Some online recipes even have videos you can follow along while cooking. Keep a file of recipes you’ve liked and look for those that use ingredients that are in season. If you’re having friends over for dinner, use a recipe you already know is delicious and be mindful of dietary needs.
Congratulations! You’re now ready to start cooking for yourself this summer.