Brown University, Providence, RI
This post is dedicated to all college kids (and a few in particular) who are now living the dream of off-campus apartment living.
Ah, yes. The freedom of selecting exactly what you want to eat. No more mass-produced, pre-selected dorm food to be eaten at specified times.
The reality of which quickly becomes, "Oh (appropriate college-level profanity here)!? I have to cook! And wash dishes!? And buy food?! Hello, Mom!?"
A friend of mine has a child is in just such a predicament, with two vegetarian roomies thrown in, just for some added fun.
Do not despair, or worse yet, whine. Armed with a salad spinner, rice cooker, a non stick pan, a non-stick spatula and a baking sheet, you will neither starve nor burn through your parents' money eating out.
Feeding Your Ohana 101: Staples you should always try to have in-house
Spices & Seasoners
Garlic. This makes everything better
Coarse sea salt. Say no to refined salt
Black pepper. The kind you can grind on your own
Olive oil. For general-purpose cooking
Canola oil. For when you decide to fry something, and you will
Shoyu (soy sauce). Low-sodium, green label Kikkoman is my favorite
Roasted sesame seed oil. Dynasty or Kadoya brand
Sriracha sauce. Look for the rooster on the label. He is your friend.
White vinegar. Buy a gallon and you can also use it to clean your floors. When you clean them.
Balsamic vinegar. Impress your friends
Brown sugar. For homemade teriyaki sauce
White sugar. If you bake. A mom can dream!
Cooking sherry and ginger
Generally non-perishable items
Onions. Technically perishable, but they last a long time and you will use them a lot
Rice. White or brown short grain, Koda Farms if you can
Quinoa.That you can cook in your rice cooker
"Noodley" type pasta like linguine
"Shaped" pasta like penne, farfalle, or elbows
Nuts. Pine nuts, walnuts and cashews
Dried cranberries. Good to toss into salads
Bread. Add cheese and it's a sandwich
Perishable Items--stored in the fridge
Cheese. Parmesan and your favorite for sandwiches
Firm tofu. If you and your roomies can make peace with it
A bottle each of lime and lemon juice. Fresh are always preferable, but these are good to have on standby
What you can make with the above supplies plus a trip to the grocery store for fresh produce.
So whether you are Lions, Tigers or any-type-except-Golden-Bears,
Cardinal, Crimson or Big Red--enjoy college.
Remember that if you have aluminum foil and an iron, you can make grilled cheese, and that snow banks are excellent temporary coolers.
Eat Well. Be Well.
Study Hard. Play hard, but not too hard. After all, I'm still a mom!
Once a week, I ask my family this, and usually the answer is, "uh, I dunno?" So every week, I aim to have 4-5 meals with a few basic rules. They are:
1) No Spam, bacon or sausage in the same week. As much as we love cured meats, moderation wins out.
2) Try to have one multi-dish meal.
3) Try for fish or vegetarian once a week.
4) Try to use all veggies over the course of the week.
A menu comes together like this:
1) Fish Tacos (done first because I buy fresh fish) with fresh guacamole, cabbage, tomatoes, spiced yogurt and salsa
2) Multi-dish meal = Orange-Salsa Pork Chops, green beans, Okinawan sweet potatoes and jasmine rice. Uses salsa from Fish Tacos. The colors and flavors all play off each other. Spicy Orange-Salsa Pork Chops, simple fresh green beans and sweet and creamy Okinawan purple potatoes and the light, fragrant white jasmine rice all play nicely together.
3) Nakayoshi Gakko Somen Salad--Uses leftover lettuce and tomatoes, adds a cuke, kamaboko and scrambled eggs. Meatless, and for home lunches.
4) Quinoa Salad--Use the rest of the cuke, and finish up the leftover fish or pork chops. Use whole cans of corn and black beans. Also good for lunch boxes.
5) Okonomiyaki (right)--This is a kind of Japanese dinner pancake/pizza. Uses eggs, the rest of the cabbage, kamaboko and any green beans
The actual shopping list is pretty efficient:
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Small red onion (1)
Jalapeno peppers (1)
Lettuce (1 bag or 1 head)
Kamaboko (Japanese fish cake, the pretty pink kind)
Canned Black Beans
Okonomiyaki Mix (from Safeway or Japanese grocery store, such as Nijiya, Marukai or Don Quijote)
Pantry Items You Probably Already Have In-House (add what you don't have to your shopping list)
White Sesame Seeds
Newman's Own Balasmic Vinegar Salad Dressing
Bulldog Tonkatsu Sauce (Safeway or Japanese grocery store, such as Nijiya, Marukai or Don Quijote)
At the end of the week, you end up with about 3/4 of a red onion, some cilantro, and perhaps some leftover corn tortillas. So next week, you can think about gyros to use the red onion, and chicken tortilla soup for the rest. It doesn't always work out this neatly, but this is what I aim for. Let me know what works for you!