How to Cook When You’re Broke As Hell
Editor’s Note: This article was written by our two broke ass interns, Intern Tavi and Sam the Intern. To see more of their college blogs, check out the Study Party Die archives here and follow them on Instagram.
This guide is based on two assumptions: you are broke and you have no cooking skills. Welcome to the club. In actuality, cooking on a budget isn’t as hard and/or sad as it may seem. This guide will hopefully give you the necessary skills and tools to work smarter, not harder. We are also assuming that you are probably pressed for time. Whether you’re a college student or recently graduated, you are most likely busy with daily classes, work, and other life commitments. You’re in luck!
In absolutely every way, this guide aims to cut corners and keep things simple and easy. If Gordon Ramsay were to read this, he might drop dead; but jokes on him because I guarantee that you I’m spending less money on groceries and more on booze than he is.
Broke Person’s Guide to Cooking
1. Cut down on the non-essentials
You simply do not need oven mitts. Whoever invented them was simply looking to make a quick buck. For starters, they look incredibly stupid. But more importantly, they solve an issue that doesn’t need to be solved. Just take a sweatshirt, pair of pants, or blanket and grab whatever you need out of the oven. A famous trick is taking the shirt that you’re wearing at that moment and using it as an oven mitt. It’s provocative….it gets the people going.
Can opener (you may think this is a joke, but…)
Another non-essential item in your kitchen. Can openers are for the birds! Trust us when we say it is way more fun to repeatedly stab a can with a knife than using that bitch-made kitchen tool. Similar to oven mitts, the inventor was trying to make a quick buck off of rich yuppies who don’t like to get down to the nitty gritty in the kitchen. Stab that can.
This is dissimilar to the first two, as a meat thermometer does serve an actual purpose. Over or undercooking your meat is a crime in and of itself, but at this stage in your life is something you’ll have to live with. Cheap ones cost under $30, but simply do not work. Trust us, we tried. Expensive ones, well, they’re expensive and we’re poor. Just try your best to cook your meat right, but err on the side of overcooking. Eating undercooked chicken makes for a bad next day (again, trust us, we’ve tried).
A colander is just not something that you need. Sure, it might be nice to drain your pasta water. But, similar to oven mitts, it’s way cooler to do it the other way. Grab a clean plate, slap it on top of the pot, and slowly turn it over the sink. Simple and effective.
Invest in an air fryer
An air fryer does everything your oven does but is made even easier (we are assuming that the oven is too hard for you to understand). These things heat up in record time and are essentially idiot proof. Anything you would put in an over can be put in an air fryer. We even air fried a steak one time. It wasn’t great, but the experience was.
2. Kitchen Hacks
Tin foil on baking tray
For most simple recipes, using a baking sheet may be required. If you live anything like we do, we are going to assume that you have no clean baking sheets in your kitchen and you’re probably too lazy to wash one. Good news! There is no need to have a clean baking sheet when you have tin foil laying around. Just lay a clean sheet of tin foil down on top of that filthy baking sheet and you’re good to go–the culinary equivalent of sweeping dirt under the rug!
Napkin and sauce drawer
Part of being a good college chef is knowing how to locally source your ingredients. I’m not talking about groceries, I’m talking about paper napkins and sauce packets.
Stop paying for paper towels and napkins when you can load up next time you visit Chipotle. Same with hot sauce and other sauces–don’t pay for something that stores give out for free. And if some Chipotle store manager tries to give you a hard time, ask him to cite the state law that you are violating by stocking up on napkins. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Dining Hall Silverware
In a similar vein to the last kitchen hack, all college students should be capitalizing on the free stock of silverware in their dining halls. In no way are we encouraging anyone to steal something from their dining hall, but it’s always okay to borrow something and return it at a later juncture. For instance, in our house, we have been “borrowing” just as much silverware as we can! Thanks, @unspecifieduniversity.
As hungry college students, we have been fortunate enough to have discovered the overwhelming value of a Costco card. If you don’t have one, you are frankly losing money. Have you ever wanted to go to the store and buy 3 whole cooked chickens as well as a handle of tequila for under 20 dollars? That’s perfect, because Costco has both of those things. If you’re working on a tight budget, consider investing in a Costco card–it will pay for itself. Also – they give out free samples
3. Use Our Chef’s Special Recipe
Now that you know all of these hacks, here’s a recipe that we cook all the time, free of charge. If you make this recipe, make sure to tag us @studypartydie so we can let you know how you did.
2 pounds of pasta (your choice on the shape, I like rigatoni 🙂 – $2
1 Rotisserie chicken – $4-6
1 Jar of pasta sauce – $3
Step 1: Cook pasta
Step 2: Carve rotisserie chicken
Step 3: Combine all 3 ingredients
That’s it, folks. These are our kitchen hacks. We pass our knowledge on to you. Now go off into the world and do your best!