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.
Saute skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into two-inch pieces, in about half a cup of fat-free Italian dressing.....the type that is water-based. As the water evaporates during cooking, the spices from the dressing coat the chicken pieces. Super simple, nutritious and very, very easy. Quick, too.
2 easy chicken & feta cheese dishes...
Lemon Feta Chicken
You can use more or less of any of these ingredients to your liking. Can always omit the onions if not on hand.
boneless skinless chicken
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice (divided)
1 TBSP. oregano (divided)
2 green onions cut up
feta cheese (whatever amount you like)
1. 350 degree oven.
2. Place chicken in a dish.
3. Pour half of the lemon juice over the chicken.
4. Sprinkle pepper and half oregano amount on top of chicken.
5. Put scallions and crumbled feta cheese on top of chicken.
6. Put remaining oregano on top of chicken and pour the rest of the lemon juice on top too.
7. COVER and place in the oven for 45 minutes or until juices run clear.
skinless boneless chicken breast halves
tomato basil feta cheese, crumbled
Italian-style dry bread crumbs, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Flatten chicken breasts
Place 1 ounce of feta cheese in the center of each chicken breast, and fold in half.
Spread 2 tablespoons bread crumbs in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange chicken in the dish, and top with remaining bread crumbs.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
My husband will only take the effort to cook if it's something he really likes and straightforward. He likes the recipe below from epicurious.com enough to make it by himself. Plus, it only takes a few ingredients: chicken, pesto and parmesan!
Three staples from my under-30-minute repertoire:
- Tuna and bean salad: Pour the contents of a 19 oz. (540 ml) can of white kidney beans into a strainer; rinse and set aside to drain. Peel and thinly slice half a medium red or white onion; if the onion is too sharp, soak the slices in cold water for half an hour, then drain. Drain a 6-7 oz. (160-180 g) can of solid light tuna (preferably packed in olive oil). Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Dress with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Tuna and pasta: Cook 8-16 oz. (250-500 g) fusili in a large pot of boiling salted water. Meanwhile sauté a small onion, chopped, in a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil along with some red pepper flakes if you like. After 5 minutes or so, add 1 clove garlic, finely chopped. Cook 3 or 4 minutes longer. Add 1 can tuna, drained, and a generous tablespoon of capers, drained. Drain the pasta, transfer to a bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, add the tuna mixture, 1 or 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley and freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss and serve.
- Penne with rapini (also works with broccoli, cauliflower, fiddleheads, dandelion greens, etc.): Cook 8 oz. (250 g) penne in a large pot of boiling salted water. Meanwhile, sauté 1 small onion, thinly sliced, and some red pepper flakes in olive oil until the onion begins to colour. Add 3 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, and sauté for 1 minute more. Add 1/2 bunch rapini, trimmed, cleaned and coarsely chopped, and stir to coat with the oil. Salt lightly and pour in 1/4 to 1/3 cup water. Simmer, stirring from time to time, until the rapini is tender and the water nearly evaporated (if necessary, add more water during cooking). Add a splash of red wine vinegar. Drain the pasta and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle the rapini with extra virign olive oil, season with pepper and dump the contents of the skillet over the pasta. Toss. Sprinkle with a generous amount of freshly grated pecorino (parmesan in a pinch). Toss again and serve.
The great thing about both pasta dishes is that, when you get your timing down, the sauce can be prepared in the time it takes to cook the pasta.
Three fast, cheap, easy ones from a male formerly single college student
1 lb ground beef
1 lb bulk sausage (I like spicy, could use Italian, etc.)
1 chopped onion
as much garlic as he desires
Brown in skillet, drain in colander, store in freezer bags
Seems like I'd put 1 cup or less in a bag, mash flat & freeze. When ready to use, snap off as much as desired, microwave, & return bag to freezer. If you put too much in the bag you cannot snap it off.
Use in: omelettes, burritos, baked potatoes, on pasta w/ jarred sauce, pizza topping, in mushroom caps w/ Parmesan, etc.
ALSO, make a batch of 6 or 10 twice baked potatoes. Time consuming for the initial prep, but instant when time to eat. Scoop out the cooked taters & mash w/ cheddar, sour cream, salt. Can make some w/ veggies, some w/ diced ham, some w/ the meat mix above, whatever he likes. Refill the tater skins, bake, cool slightly, wrap in plastic & freeze. Whatever will not fit back into the skins can be consumed immediately. Nuke when ready to eat.
ALSO, chicken marsala can be quick & easy (and healthy - 6'4 200 and med school? does he eat low fat, low sodium all the time?) Back to the marsala - saute breast tenderloins, onion & a sprinkle of red pepper flakes in olive oil until chicken is almost done then remove to plate, add mushrooms & chicken broth (Love those little resealable boxes!), optionally add dissolved corn starch, add marsala, add chicken back to skillet & heat thru. Delicious this way, but better if you dredge in flour & use 2 sticks of butter.
Good luck with "salt and pepper to taste" with this guy. You may need to specify precise measures & then he'll adjust at table. Fortunately none of these recipes require precise measures. Recipes of this type might help him gain confidence to improvise in the kitchen.
Thanks for these suggestions -- I enjoy the frozen ground meat idea. Chicken marsala is one of his favorites, so he might be excited about that. And no, he doesn't *intentionally* eat healthy -- he just doesn't eat if "there's nothing to eat" (this statement does not refer to food in cupboards or requiring imagination to put together). He does eat a lot of food, when he eats. I'm thinking more and more I'm going to need to set him up with a "spice kit" with spices (maybe even some homemade blends ie "Indian", "Italian", etc.), vinegars, oils, wine for cooking, etc. S+P to taste will be tough -- but I think he'll learn.
For a grad-school relative, I gave him a crockpot filled with packets of various dried legumes, and a recipe card for each.
The easiest recipe was black beans - just beans and water, to be mashed when done. To go with it - quesadilla made with a flour tortilla filled with shredded cheese enhanced with chopped martini olives (or chiles, or green onion) fried until crispy. Slice some tomato and/or cucumber for salad, and there's your meal, Gary!
Terrific project! Many great suggestions already. There is also a very easy, yummy-sounding recipe in the country-style ribs thread.
Dont neglect the virtues of a ham steak or even a quarter of a spiral-sliced ham. Can be eaten cold or heated with favorite vegetable or salad, or with eggs (fried, scrambled, omelette) or cut up into soup.
The linked soup is incredibly easy, cheap, nutritious and good. I personally leave out the cumin and add a small bag of baby spinach leaves at the end (or could use frozen). The squeeze of lemon juice is critical.
A can of refried black beans thinned out with chicken broth or water makes decent black bean soup in a pinch better of course if you add some sautéed onion and garlic and ground chipotle pepper or red pepper flakes or even chili powder. Add some chopped ham or any kind of smoked sausage (kielbasa, linguica, andouille, bratwurst, etc) if you have it. Top with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream if you have it.
Split pea soup is also really easy.
Quesadillas. For each one, assemble as follows:
1 corn tortilla
spread with 2 T refried beans (from a can)
sprinkle with grated cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
top with another tortilla
Cook in a lightly oiled pan on medium, weighted down with a small pan lid. Turn when underside is brown. Serve with salsa.
Also, pasta with peanut sauce and shredded veggies (slaw mix is good), or pasta with spinach and blue cheese. Let me know if you need recipes for either of these.
If he's as much of a food novice as you describe, you might want to include some info on food safety (proper temperatures, storage, disinfecting after prepping meat/chicken, etc.)
Would you consider making the finished book available to others? It sounds like it will be quite a resource.
Actually, yes, I would like a peanut sauce recipe. All of mine involve ingredients he won't buy like fresh ginger. I guess he could just mix peanut butter, soy sauce, and thin it with water? Do you have any secret additions to make it tastier?
I'm flattered by your request to make the finished book available to others -- that's very nice. I don't think I hold a candle to Ms. Brody or other "real" cookbook authors who've worked on similar projects! And mine's handwritten! I will post some pictures this week of the album, maybe of some of the Chowhound recipes. I've been on a cookbook-making kick recently, it seems -- made a beautiful one for a friend who's getting married -- collected recipes from all the wedding guests (stole the guest list) ahead of time, and bound them. It was nice, because we asked guests to include notes/photos/etc and design their page however they wanted. I do think it's a great gift, and my friend loved it. This recipebook for the SO is more sturdy/practical, hence the waterproof paper and three-ring binder.
Here's the peanut sauce recipe I like. It does call for fresh ginger, but maybe he could use dry, or buy minced ginger in a jar? Also, regular diced onion can be subbed for the green onion. The recipe is very forgiving.
I toss the hot pasta, the sauce, and shredded raw veggies all together at once.
8 ounces spaghetti (whole wheat is good)
1 bunch green onions, sliced
(white parts only)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until done. Drain.
Meanwhile, combine oil and onions in a small skillet. Saute over low heat until tender. Add ginger; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat.
Toss noodles with sauce, and serve.
here's an easy one without the ginger...
Sesame Peanut Butter Chicken
1/2 Cup of rice wine vingear
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter*
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup vegetable oil
sesame oil to taste
"Dash" of sugar
1 Lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut
Preheat oven to 350
Combine vinegar, peanut butter, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and sesame oil, to taste in the bowl of a food processer or using a hand mixer and mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, toss about 2/3 of the mixture with the chicken until chicken is well coated. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Sprinklle with sesame seeds. Use the rest of the sauce for dipping.
Easy and wonderful fish recipe (I've even served this to company):
Grease/Pam a baking dish. Add a pound of boneless/skinless fish filets (I get a pound of mixed fish chunks at the fish counter of a good grocer). Add a half-cup of uncooked white rice evenly to the dish. Sprinkle 1 teasppon oregano, some pepper and a half teaspoon of salt. Add a 16 oz can diced tomatoes and liquid. Cover with foil or lid. Bake at 375 for about 50 mins.
From The Taste of Gloucester--A Fisherman's Wife Cooks.
Salt and pepper a brisket and put it in a crockpot. Turn it on low and leave it overnight. In the morning, drain the liquid out of the crockpot. Add a bottle of bbq sauce and let the brisket go for 3-4 hours more. Put a healthy chunk of the meat on a burger bun and eat.
(If fat doesn't matter just add the bottle to the brisket at the beginning, and it's done for BREAKFAST!)
Fast food at our house:
Boil plain spaghetti as directed on the box. Drain. Fry two eggs in extra virgin olive oil until the whites are set (but yolks are runny). Slide the eggs and oil onto a bowl of the spaghetti. Add parm, salt and pepper.
This is a feast I just never tire of. I've probably eaten this 1,000 times--and I can't wait until I do it again.
It's a John Thorne recipe.
re: Dave Westerberg
Just a note.. extra virgin olive oil has a very low smoke point (around 150 C which is much lower than even butter), it would be wise not to use it for frying.. the fatty acid chains break down and you've gone from using a very healty fat source to using one that is as bad for yo as McDonalds. My rec would to be to fry it in either olive oil (not ev) or refined canola oil, blot the egg, and then toss the spaghetti with a little extra virgin.
Killer GOOD and EASY breakfast. He can make this on Sunday morning, then eat the leftovers every morning during the week.
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup whole milk
1 small pitcher cream (for pouring over the baked oatmeal)
compote of peaches or strawberries
(I just add add a bit of water to some really good jelly, then warm it through on the stove.)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a 2-quart souffle (or other baking dish) with a non-stick coating.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Mix in the oil and sugar; combine well. Stir in the oats, baking powder, salt, and milk; mix until combined well.
Pour mixture into prepared dish and bake for 40-55 minutes, or until nicely golden brown. Serve warm with the cream and fruit.
"The Baking Book, a recipe from a Lancaster County B&B"
NOTES : So simple to make and so delicious! (tastes a little like sticky toffee pudding!)
Pasta! Cheap, tons of variations.
Poor man's alfredo -- butter & parmesan.
Cacio y Pepe -- butter, parmesan/pecorino & black pepper.
Sausage & broccoli rabe.
Marcella's tomato sauce w/ butter & onion.
Garlic & olive oil, w or w/o red pepper flakes or anchovy.
Butter & sage or rosemary or basil or mint.
Fresh tomato, mozzarella & basil (no cook)
Fresh tomato and tuna (also no cook)
Teach him to use the salty, starchy pasta water as an extender to flavor the sauce and add juiciness. Start him off with some good quality pantry staples (olive oil, good quality canned tuna, capers, anchovies, red wine vinegar, etc.). When he asks how much salt to put in the pasta water, tell him "salt until it tastes as salty as the sea."
All of the suggested tips so far have been great! Here are a few more:
--include the breakfast-for-lunch-or-supper concept in your cookbook. Scrambled eggs, hash browns, good pork sausage, toast, and grits make a wonderful and easy to cook quick supper, esp if you succumb to instant grits and frozen hash browns (available as shredded, chunked, or patties as you prefer). Basic pancakes (banana, blueberry, pecan), baked cheese grits, and good homemade biscuits(give him some crisco sticks and a bag of white lily self-rising flour--recipe's on the bag) are also great things to include. You can whip up a batch of homemade biscuits quicker than it takes the oven to heat up to 450 degrees, and they cook for just 10 minutes.
--egg cookery deserves its own section, too. Egg salad, omelettes w/various fillings, devilled eggs, poached eggs, three-minute eggs, scrambled with things added....
--if his circumstances permit (ie patio or porch access), I'd invest in a small gas grill. Nothing makes cooking easier, IMHO. My gas grill saves the day on many a harried weeknight. Boneless chicken or beef kebabs, simple grilled things like zucchini or yellow squash, shrimp, steak, etc. So many things can go from fridge to grill with minimal prep and straightforward seasoning.
You mentioned a recipe for rice: also give him simple recipes for things to do with lefover rice (fried rice, rice pudding, rice casseroles). And include some basic info on different kinds of rice--or buy him some diff. varieties (long grain, short grain, basmati, jasmine, brown). I think many Americans overlook rice as an inexpensive convenience food. It only takes 20 minutes to cook!
Write down the basic rice pilaf technique (brown a little onion & garlic, then add rice & seasonings, then add water, bring to a boil, cover & cook for 20 minutes) and make lists of various spicing for it...cardamom, cloves, black pepper for indian; cumin, black pepper, a little lemon for middle eastern; two shakes of soy sauce or oyster sauce and some ground ginger for asian.
I've taught several friends to cook by telephone and emailed recipe--it's a fun process!
Here's a recipe for taco casserole which sounds like it meets your requirements. As long as he can brown ground beef he can handle this! Good luck with your project.
1 lb. ground beef (or chicken or turkey)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup taco sauce
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
1 pkg. (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning mix
1 pkg. (12) taco shells or white corn taco shells, broken, divided
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided
toppings: chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions, sour cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 11 X 7-inch baking dish.
Cook beef and onion until beef is browned; drain. Stir in water, taco sauce, chiles and seasoning mix. Cook over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
Layer half of broken shells on bottom of prepared baking dish. Cover with half of meat mixture; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Top with tomatoes, green onions and sour cream.
It doesn't take 30 minutes, but he could surely put a pot roast and vegetables in the oven fo several hours one day a week. After his pot roast main meal, he could then make shredded bbq sandwiches (jarred sauce), burritos with the addition of salsa, sour cream, etc. Open-faced roast beef sandwiches with jarred brown gravy. The possibilities are endless! He could also put some of the meat on a salad. He can do the same thing with a pork roast (butt).
I realize that this doesn't fit into your 30 minutes-or-less rule, but everyone should know how to roast a chicken. All it takes is a chicken, some oil, and salt and pepper, if you don't want to get fancy.
If you want to get mildly fancy, stuff it with half a lemon. Maybe some rosemary. Surround it with sliced onions and potatoes and carrots. Add whatever other vegetables you might want. Voila, you have chicken and vegetables--a whole meal in one pan. And even more, you have leftovers.
Roast chicken! yes! but you can successfully 'roast' a chicken beautifully in the microwave. I do it all the time--only thing missing is the crispy skin, but since I don't eat the skin (I'd rather save the sat fat cals for ice cream) it's no matter!
Rinse and pat dry the chicken--3-4# size. Rub with 2 t oil and sprinkle with any herb spice combo you like. I use a southestern rub and some extra thyme.
Place in glass casserole dish, lay a square of parchment over the top to prevent splatters, and set for about 30 minutes on high.
Check for doneness by piercing leg-if juice runs pink, cook on high for 3-4 more minutes. Let set for 10 minutes on the counter, then carve. ( p.s.: before he leaves, give him a tutorial on dismembering and carving a fowl--it'll come in WAY handy)The breast meat is very juicey, and the dark meat is tender.
Remove all the meat from the carcass, bag and freeze in portions, and freeze the carcass if desired for later soup-making. Freeze the juices as well for the soup.
This is so handy for quick quesadillas or tacos, or to put into scrambled or nuked eggs. High protein (as Adele Davis used to say, 70 % of the protein you injest goes to run your brain), satisfying and tasty, and quick. and much healthier, and cheaper than those supermarket msg-laced spit chickens.
good luck on your cookbook. I'd say keep things simple--he's not going to have much TIME to cook! He's a lucky guy, BTW--if he pays attention to your efforts, he'll have a great basis for going off-recipe in the future!
This is such a simple recipe, is extremely inexpensice and is full of flavour
4 medium yellow onions, peeled
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup lentils
3-1/2 cups cold water
1 cup long-grain rice
2 tsp. salt
Dice 3 of the onions. Heat a large frying pan and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the diced onions. Sauté until quite brown and set aside. In a 4-quart covered pot place the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, covered, and then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
Add the cooked onion to the lentils, along with the rice and salt.
Cover and simmer 20 minutes until rice and lentils are soft. If a bit of water remains unabsorbed, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes and it will soak in.
Slice the remaining onion into rings. Heat the frying pan again and sauté the rings in the remaining olive oil.
To serve, top the lentils with the sautéed onion rings. Accompany with plain yogurt and a lemony green salad, with tomato wedges on the side. Serves 8.
Here's a great dish with two ingredients:
italian style breadcrumbs
Roll chicken legs in breadcrumbs. Place on aluminum foil covered baking sheet or pan. Bake at 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. The skin should be very crispy, the bottom of the legs are browned. Remove chicken from foil and serve. Wrap leftovers in the used foil and put in fridge.
I'd like to suggest a whole section for the Crock Pot. Nothing is easier or more forgiving or more flexable. Recipes for Crock Pot chili, stew, chicken and rice, pork chops with crushed pineapple, red pasta sauce. any kind of soup he likes.
Do you just need some ideas like this or do you need some chowhounders recipes for your book?
I recently sent my oldest son a crockpot and he tried this recipe that I also sent him and he LOVED it...very easy and quite tasty plus the aromas of it cooking are delightful. When I made this recipe, I cut the ingredients in half and it worked out just fine also. Next time, I might add some fresh chopped spinach or kale to it for the last 20 minutes to brighten it up but it's great the way it is. Link below for Crockpot Cassoulet.
There are lots of rice casserole types of things where you put uncooked rice, broth, whatever flavorings, lay chicken or pork chops or even ground beef over the top and bake for 45 minutes or so. Endless variations on seasoning. Maybe put the basic technique, then the Mexican variation, italian, greek, etc.
Also quick and easy-- packet cooking, in parchment paper in the oven. Again, 1 piece of fish, and endless seasoning/vegetable variations.
Those thin-cut pork chops are really quick and easy (and cheap), and don't need much beyond salt and pepper. You can roast potatoes and frozen veggies while getting them sauteed. Maybe with mushrooms. Possibly even describe how to deglaze the pan with red wine and he'll have a little sauce.
Also include a couple of cold salads like corn/black bean that could sit in the fridge all week. And how to use up rice leftovers in fried rice. This is a nice project.
if he likes shrimp... easiest thing on earth to make and amazingly good. And takes about 10 minutes from starting to eating. Plus, if he buys the bag of shelled, raw shrimp, it's even easier and always on hand. Before you make the shrimp, put the amount you want in a bowl under running water. They'll be thawed in 5 minutes.
Shrimp with butter, lemon and herbs
1/2 - 1 pounds medium-large shrimp, deveined
2 TB butter
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB chopped parsley
Melt butter in pan. Saute garlic for 1 minute. Dont brown. Add shrimp and sauté for a few minutes until just opaque. Turn off heat. Add lemon juice. Stir. Add parsley and serve.
Teach him/Tell him how to roast a turkey breast. I put an oven on at 425, rub the breast with oil, sprinkle salt, pepper and dried rosemary. Put in oven, turn down heat to 350 and roast for 1 hour 15 minutes.
He can eat off that for a good many days, making sandwiches, cutting off chunks to throw in pasta, or with your white rice recipe :)
I don't know how much of a veggie guy he is, but teach him the same thing. Coat veggies oil, salt and pepper, roast at 400. You can include varying cooking times for different vegetables. 18 minutes for asparagus, 1 hour for a sweet potato, 25 minutes for brussel sprouts, etc.
Aaron -- these are great suggestions. I'm working on the "planning ahead" part of easy cooking, and the turkey breast might do it. We shall see. He's really been enjoying the roasted broccoli/cauliflower around here, and I think he knows how to make it. That said, I got in trouble today for not showing him what I did to make the pasta after the water boiled. ("How MUCH salt did you put in there?") I should have done nightly cooking lessons... he's leaving Saturday, so maybe we can squeeze a turkey breast in between now and then.
Cranberry Chicken. It's hard for anyone to mess this up!
Mix one envelope dry onion soup mix, 1 small bottle russian dressing, and 1 can whole cranberry sauce. Pour over 2-3 lbs chicken in a casserole. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice. Freezes well too.
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!
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!
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!
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.