By: Sasha Dhesi

Many young people are nervous about stepping into the kitchen, and know very little what goes into the food that they eat. This was especially apparent to me last week when my friend had to explain to our acquaintances, that yes, you can use spices to cook chicken. It’s common to be nervous about cooking, but cooking at home is a must for the student on a budget. And ultimately, you really can’t enter adulthood without knowing how to make yourself lunch. Knowing some basic aspects of cooking will allow you to not only save money, but also save yourself a lot of embarrassment in the future.

My brother likens cooking to following procedure in his chemistry labs. In both scenarios you’re given your materials and the steps needed to achieve your desired outcome, but have the capacity to change it as you see fit to suit your needs. This perspective allowed me to relieve some of the stress I had about entering the kitchen. To become a good cook, you have to master the rules before you can start bending them.

Another reason why people avoid cooking at home is the short-term cost, which is much less than that of those who buy all their food for the week in one go. But in the long run, eating out will cost you much more money, and will likely cause a myriad of health problems that you will have to pay for later. And if you’re savvy, you can easily offset the cost of buying groceries.

Take fruits and vegetables. Most people will throw out their now droopy carrots and celery after they wilt, but you can easily revitalize your old kale and spinach by letting it sit in ice-cold water and watch as they perk right back up. Now you won’t have to go back to Metro in order to fulfill your rabbit-esque cravings.

Another way to get more out of your aging vegetables would be to sautée them. This is a technique especially useful with bitter greens that tend to be forgotten once your cravings for a green smoothie have died down. This is especially helpful for those who cannot bear eating vegetables on their own.

Speaking of smoothies, a great way to save on the cost of off-season fruits would be to either buy them frozen, or chop them up and freeze them yourself. I always keep some frozen pineapple in my freezer so that I can quickly whip up some pineapple purée, a delicious and healthy alternative to ice cream.

Knowing some simple recipes is also something I would recommend. You will get sick of eating beans and rice everyday, and diversifying your diet is particularly important in maintaining your physical health. One of my personal favourites is the chickpea salad. It takes about half an hour to prepare and the ingredients can easily be switched out to fit your preferences. You really could add whatever vegetables to this salad and would still be left with something nutritious that did not require you to touch a stove.

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