Author Topic: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible! Update w Pic.  (Read 3894 times)

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NyaChan

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I am in a temporary living situation for the summer.  So far I have just been eating out most of the time and occasionally putting together some sandwiches (went through a jar of PB in a little over 2 weeks...) but it is getting expensive, extremely unhealthy, and inconvenient to almost always have to go out for food.  I've resigned myself to buying lunch while I'm working since the office culture is to go out and I don't want to isolate myself.  But I would really like to be able to put together something to eat at my place for at least a few meals a week.  Unfortunately, I have next to nothing to cook with and would rather not buy cookware as I won't be here past July and can't take anything home with me. 

Here is what I have:

Oven w. broiler
Gas stove
Fridge/freezer
Butter warmer
Large Mug
Foil
Tupperware
Plastic forks/knives
Paper plates/cups
Blunt scissors (like what you use in grade school)

My roommate had originally said that I could use her pot (small but larger than a butter warmer at least ::)), but I later realized that she was a strict vegetarian for religious reasons and I didn't want to risk contaminating her cookware.  I don't know if she realized when she offered that I might be cooking meat.  Might actually be impossible, but can anyone think of anything I could make with these tools?  I don't have any food at the moment, but I can go get pretty much anything (just realized I somehow have baking soda, but don't even have salt/pepper, must get on that at least)     
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 01:47:17 PM by NyaChan »

cicero

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2012, 03:50:50 AM »
I know you do't want to buy stuff, but i would at least buy one pot and one pan (you could even get away with disposable that could be used more than once but i've found that it's usually less expensive to buy one medium quality pan than stock up on disposable). I would also buy one good knife (like a thin paring knife - you could use it for peeling and cutting) and a cutting board. I don't know where you are living, but try a dollar-store type of place.

buy fresh veg (tomato, cucumber, lettuce, celery, squash, onion, potato etc), fresh herbs, fresh chicken parts/fish/tofu, lemon. eggs.
oil
for temp living i would buy 1-2 bottles of marinade also
you can make a lot of meals in the oven - put the veg on the bottom of the pan, put chicken/fish on top, sprimkle with oil and lemon, salt, pepper, fresh herbs and roast. or pour over ready marinade

I make a batch of chicken breast in the oven once a week and freeze them - marinade thm in your own marinade or store bought. i just mix oil, lemon, garlic, herbs and a little sugar or honey (I don't add salt because the kosher chicken is already salted) and let the chicken sit for about 24 hours in the fridge. then i roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes, let them stand for about 20 minutes, slice and either eat or put in the freezer. then defrost and eat with salad or starch.

you can also make rice in the oven - i mix one cup brown rice with two cups boiling water, a small amount of oil, a pinch of salt, cover pan tigghtly with tin foil and bake for about one hour. i like to add chopped veg - onion, mushroom, celery.

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jmarvellous

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2012, 07:29:42 AM »
What is a butter warmer? Some kind of hot plate?

Do you have a microwave?

I strongly second the suggestion to get a medium size pot (deep enough for boiling, say, water for pasta, but not so deep you can't saute in it if necessary) and a knife and cutting board. My grocery store or a nearby thrift store has these things for less than $10 total, probably closer to $5 if you go with the cheapest. If you get one with a metal handle you can use it in the oven, too. A sheet pan will add a dollar or four, and you can use it for toasting, baking etc. There's not much you can't figure out once you have these basics, really!

Most strict vegetarians who offer to let meat eaters use their cookware probably do so knowing the meat eater will use it for meat, then wash thoroughly. Ask!!

greencat

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2012, 07:38:16 AM »
You have foil and therefore you can make a large number of awesome delicious oven baked meals.

http://artofmanliness.com/2010/07/20/cooking-around-the-campfire-9-easy-and-delicious-foil-packet-recipes/

Ignore the "campfire" part and bake in the oven at 450.


Zilla

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2012, 07:52:38 AM »
Broiler is excellent for fish and steaks.


Double up on the foil to make a "baking" sheet with short walls. (half inch to catch the juices)  So essentially you are making a lid for a box.


Then salt/pepper or get one of those mixed seasonings combo.  Sprinkle on both sides and broil till desired doneness.


Buy those individual bags of veggies, nuke em.  Along with potatoes too.  They also have rice and potato dishes that comes out decent in the microwave.


Better yet, if you have a traders joes in the area, they have awesome frozen dinners.

camlan

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2012, 07:58:00 AM »
Agree with Greencat's cook-in-foil recommendation.

Also, consider the cost of a pan and a knife (perhaps purchased at a thrift store) against the cost of eating out constantly. You could end up saving money by cooking in.

Another thing to think about is eating your main meal of the day at lunchtime. Instead of opting for a sandwich or other typical light lunch fare, eat your main meal out. That will make it easier to get by with sandwiches and the like for your other two meals.

With one pot, you can cook or warm up soup, rice, pasta, vegetables, and stir-frys. If you don't want to buy a pot, you could still use your roommate's pot to cook rice and pasta and vegetables and warm up a can of veggie soup.

Think salads now that summer is almost here. Tossed salads, pasta salads.

You can make toast in the oven, but you have to watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.

There are many things that don't need to be cooked at all--salads, sandwiches, veggies and dip, cold cereal and milk, crackers and cheese or peanut butter, yogurt and fruit. 
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Oh Joy

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2012, 07:59:22 AM »
Do you have access to a can opener?

Hmmmmm

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2012, 08:38:49 AM »
Agree with others that a minimal investment in a pan and a knive would be economical in the long run.  But if you don't, then cooking in foil packets will work.

You can buy a frozen mix of onions and peppers to use in flavoring your meat, fish, and vegetables cooked in the foil. 

There are also healthy frozen meals that you can cook in the oven.


Oh Joy

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2012, 09:47:01 AM »
I was just reading various instructions for making 'hard boiled' eggs by baking them directly on the oven rack.  You could do a dozen and keep them peeled in a Tupperware in your fridge. 
*They're a good grab & go breakfast
*You could make egg salad for sandwiches/pitas or stuffed tomatoes (if you find some soft enough for your plastic knives)
*Make a tuna salad using pouches (if you don't have a access to a can opener) of tuna (stretched by some whole grain pasta cooked in your roommate's pot)
*Add them to a spinach salad with jarred bacon bits or some chicken breast* (there's also another thread going with make-ahead salad ideas)
*And so on. 

If you're concerned about nutrition, we love the Eggland's Best brand because they're lower in some of the bad stuff and higher in some of the good stuff than most eggs.

Of course, this will do you no good if you don't like eggs.   ;)

It's only six weeks or so...this should be interesting!

* Options abound - baked on a foil-made baking 'sheet' as others have suggested, precooked refrigerated slices, a hot rotiesserie whole bird, etc...

POF

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2012, 09:52:24 AM »
Rotissiere chicken ! I get a lot of meals out of those guys.

Canned tuna, bag of salad, baked potato ( I like tuna on the potato and then salad )

Again - cheap skillet - make scrambled eggs

Mikayla

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2012, 12:44:51 PM »
If you have a dishwasher, you can cook fish in it.  Seriously!  There's lots of recipes online, and not just salmon.  Catfish and sole can be done this way.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/the-surreal-gourmet/dishwasher-salmon-with-a-piquant-dill-sauce-recipe/index.html

VorFemme

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2012, 01:07:17 PM »
Use the foil to line your room mate's pan and cook - then peel & toss the foil away.  No meat touched her pan and you don't have to clean the pan, either.

Pasta - use frozen meatballs thawed in the fridge & heated in the microwave with a serving of sauce. 

Salad with grilled chicken or beef - use the foil lining idea on a borrowed baking dish or extra layers of foil to make a "personal size" broiling dish.

The roasted chickens from the deli can easily make three or four meals - five if you pick off all the meat scraps & use the carcass for "soup" on day. 

Thrift store - cheap cooking utensils and you won't feel bad about cleaning them up & donating them again as you pack to go "home".  Limit yourself to ONE all purpose knife, one all purpose pan, and a baking dish to be used for broiling.  If a used cookie sheet warps because you've been broiling on it - toss it! 
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

MommyPenguin

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2012, 02:41:36 PM »
I was in a temporary living situation two summers ago.  I joined Freecycle and got silverware, some cooking dishes/pots, etc., and then I re-Freecycled them at the end of the summer.  If I were you, I'd consider doing the same, or possibly looking at Goodwill.  It's often not hard to get something that is cheap and maybe a little banged up for free on Freecycle.  You could ask!

I really liked these frozen stir fry meals you could make on the stove, because I had no oven.  Of course, you don't really have the same issues, so it might not work for you.

Black Delphinium

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2012, 02:42:55 PM »
You can also make "omelets" in a big mug- scramble the egg in the mug, add cheese, meat, veggies, microwave for about a minute or so(keep an eye on it).
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NyaChan

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Re: Challenging cooking situation - my very own dinner impossible!
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2012, 07:15:43 PM »
Thanks for the ideas guys!  I actually don't have a microwave or dishwasher here, it is like a dorm suite with a kitchen.  I do like to cook a lot, but I've never been in a kitchen that was all but empty haha.  A butter warmer is this:  http://www.amazon.com/Harold-Imports-24-Ounce-Capacity-Stainless/dp/B002OOVAYU/ref=sr_1_3?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1339887978&sr=1-3  I got it at the store because I couldn't imagine doing without my tea :)

I'm thinking I can probably boil an egg or two at a time with that as was suggested.  Egg sandwiches definitely sound good!

I really like the potato idea too, so easy to bake and I can vary the toppings to keep things interesting.  The foil packet baking is probably my best bet for proteins I think.  After reading all the responses I was thinking I could easily broil some fish or chicken with the premixed seasoning (thanks for that idea - that's a great way to avoid having to stock up on a bunch of different spices!).  I think I might just suck it up and get a pot - I figure I can use that for boiling water and also cook things up in it.  Thanks again,  really looking forward to trying this out.  I must go grocery shopping soon so I can get started!