Help me keep this man fed
My boyfriend is moving to another city to start med school, and I'm making him a cookbook. He is an *okay* but scared cook. He follows recipes precisely and doesn't have a sense or feel for cooking yet. (ie there is a recipe for white rice in the book.) There is no improvising in his cooking world. He's 6'4" and weighs 200 lbs, but unless I get some quick, easy, and cheap recipes in this book, he's going to starve and be broke, all at the same time. I know there are posts about this, but I couldn't find that many using the google function and words cheap, easy, and quick. Level of complexity of recipe he'll work with: chicken parm, in which the chicken is dipped in egg, then breadcrumbs, then baked, then jar of sauce poured on top and cheese sprinkled, broiled until hot. He's quite proud of this dish. Must take 30 min. or less to prepare/cook. Not too many ingredients. The only ingredient he hates is mustard. I've gone through my brain and all my cookbooks, and there aren't too many things that are easy enough/cheap enough. I'd appreciate recipes/links to websites or past Chowhound posts that might be relevant/cookbook suggestions. I do appreciate this. Thank you thank you thank you.
what about meatloaf? there are so many variations...Italian, Mexican, etc...I have multiple great variations if you're interested
Also, don't forget about breakfast foods- any time of day! Eggs & homefries, pancakes always a great dinner!
Quick and Easy Homefries (prepare omlette while this is cooking)
3-4 large potatoes
1 lg Green pepper
1 yellow onion
(any other spices to liking optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop onion, green pepper and potato into small pieces
Place on a greased cookie sheet (single layer) and
drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with spices and mix it up! Cook for about 30-40 minutes.
Every time this sort of topic comes up I recommend Lora Brody's Kitchen Survival Guide. ring bound, opens flat and has all sorts of good suggestions for the kitchen novice. Not only about food but kitchen issues and cooking.She wrote this book for her sons as they were getting their first apartments and moving away from home. As Realtor when I have young fairly inexperienced kitchen-wise home buyers I buy a copy as a closing gift, they now have mortgage payments, take out and dining out are not real options anymore. There are not only easy to follow well explained recipes, what to have in your pantry or on hand but also kitchen tips like "manual cleaning oven does not mean a guy named Manuel will show up to clean your oven. This is a very basic for a beginner covering about everything that pertains to a kitchen and cooking. Forget Bittman's How to Cook Everything for a later gift in a year or so same with Joy of Cooking. There are more details than a pure novice is ready to del with. Please trust me as a trained Home Ec teacher I do have a real feel for the scared novice. The Kitchen Survival Guide will be a real comfort and safety net.
Thanks for this suggestion, and I will look into getting this for him. However, I've started to make him a recipebook (handwritten recipes, ring bound, waterproof paper), and it's this that's my immediate focus. I do appreciate the Lora Brody book suggestion, and will look into it. Right now I'm trying to bolster the ranks of the homemade gift!
I suggest soup. They are very easy to make, are forgiving of little "mistakes," can be quite filling/nourishing, and definitely fit your requirement of cheap and easy. An added benefit is that a pot of soup can last for several meals, so he only needs to cook/clean-up once and yet still be well-fed!
Is he okay with prepping items ahead of time? When I was in school, short on time and money, I was a big fan of marinating chicken.
Pack of chicken thighs or drumsticks, soy, garlic, bay leaf, marinate overnight, bake the next day. This cold the next day is also quick easy eats. Or left overs can be shredded mixed with some mayo and mustard for a chicken salad sandwich. Again few ingredients and simple.
Variants of the marinade can be listed easily next to basic recipe. Wine, balsamic vinegar, apple cider, lemon, herbs, etc.
I also did a lot beef stews. Beef, potatoes, onions, garlic, can of tomatoes. Simmered while I studied during the day. I didn't understand the whole browning concept and just threw everything in a pot and let it go.
I highly support the cooking-in-advance idea. In fact, I am in medical school right now (at Tulane), and my favorite trick is cooking once on Sunday and packaging myself meals for the rest of the week.
I liked someone's recommendation of chili -- good call.
Another easy general idea is to do stirfries -- almost any frozen vegetables plus some chicken cubes will make a decent stirfry. My parents are constantly sending me packets of sauce so that all I really have to do is throw everything in my wok.
This has nothing to do with cooking, but Med Schools and Hospitals also have lots of ways of getting free food -- groups that want you to join, Departments' Grand Rounds... as long as he's not too much of a Foodie, it's all about scavenging.
Good luck with your project!
Thanks for these tips. I've enumerated the pluses to preparing large vats of things that cook at slow temperatures once a week and eating off of them all week -- it's unclear if this will happen or not. I've got a chili recipe in the book... He seems to be against buying prepared sauces, but this might change. He's not really a foodie, so hopefully he'll hit the free food events. I'll include a marinade, but I'm guessing he won't think of it until he's hungry!