T Nation

Cooking Help

The back story is that I am in college and living on my own and have been about for a month. I live pretty close to home, so my parents usually give me a shit ton of leftovers every now and then which I have been relying on to survive sometimes. However, being ever tired of eating leftovers, I decided I need fresh meals as often as possible.

Now, I know how to cook somewhat, as in the physically doing it. I have survived off of buttered pasta and shitty fried steaks pretty well when cooking, but I have no idea for recipes, good. Although, I have a pretty good stock of bad recipes…

So this is where I need your help (besides Googling It. I tried that and do not know what is good or bad). Basically, if you guys have some good (and preferably quick) recipes, that would be much appreciated. Now, I have googled and searched around, and what I am really focused on is good ways to marinate/cook beef and chicken and just some good carb choices to accompany that. I will have all summer to experiment and get better. Also, I only have access to stove, a few pots and pans, and that is about it. No grill or slow cooker (unfortunately).

I apologize beforehand for being so damn needy, but if there is one group of people I know would be able to make some good food, it would be you guys.

If you are a poor college student. I have two words for you, slow cooker/crock pot. I know you said you don’t have one but they are cheap to buy and will save you so much in the long run. You can get cheaper cuts of meat and make it very tender. The best part is even a monkey can cut stuff up and throw it in. It will do the rest for you.

If you are comfortable just create some rubs for chicken and throw it in the oven. Use a meat thermometer to determine if its done, that is until you get the hang of being able to eye it.

Chicken breast fillets
Olive oil
Crushed Garlic
Crushed Black Pepper
Crushed chilli pepper
Lemon Zest
3 drops of honey
A dash of cinamon
A dash of Turmeric
A dash of cumin
A dash of salt

Marinate overnight.
Grill/bake/stir fry/simmer the next day.

Savour with sauteed onions and spinach/broccoli, and/or brown rice/ wholemeal pasta.

[quote]renzema wrote:
If you are a poor college student. I have two words for you, slow cooker/crock pot. I know you said you don’t have one but they are cheap to buy and will save you so much in the long run. You can get cheaper cuts of meat and make it very tender. The best part is even a monkey can cut stuff up and throw it in. It will do the rest for you.

If you are comfortable just create some rubs for chicken and throw it in the oven. Use a meat thermometer to determine if its done, that is until you get the hang of being able to eye it. [/quote]

A few of my friends have crock pots and enjoy them. I was considering buying one eventually, so I see it is a good idea to get one.

[quote]DarkNinjaa wrote:
Chicken breast fillets
Olive oil
Crushed Garlic
Crushed Black Pepper
Crushed chilli pepper
Lemon Zest
3 drops of honey
A dash of cinamon
A dash of Turmeric
A dash of cumin
A dash of salt

Marinate overnight.
Grill/bake/stir fry/simmer the next day.

Savour with sauteed onions and spinach/broccoli, and/or brown rice/ wholemeal pasta.
[/quote]

I’ll definitely need to buy more spices (read: at least more than zero). Thank you for the recipe.

[quote]DarkNinjaa wrote:
Chicken breast fillets
Olive oil
Crushed Garlic
Crushed Black Pepper
Crushed chilli pepper
Lemon Zest
3 drops of honey
A dash of cinamon
A dash of Turmeric
A dash of cumin
A dash of salt

Marinate overnight.
Grill/bake/stir fry/simmer the next day.

Savour with sauteed onions and spinach/broccoli, and/or brown rice/ wholemeal pasta.
[/quote]

No cheese

-_-

[quote]ukrainian wrote:

[quote]DarkNinjaa wrote:
Chicken breast fillets
Olive oil
Crushed Garlic
Crushed Black Pepper
Crushed chilli pepper
Lemon Zest
3 drops of honey
A dash of cinamon
A dash of Turmeric
A dash of cumin
A dash of salt

Marinate overnight.
Grill/bake/stir fry/simmer the next day.

Savour with sauteed onions and spinach/broccoli, and/or brown rice/ wholemeal pasta.
[/quote]

I’ll definitely need to buy more spices (read: at least more than zero). Thank you for the recipe. [/quote]

You own neither salt nor pepper?

Well, you life can be improved dramatically by just 3 $!

Good news, all around.

Go to Costco and buy a whole boneless top sirloin. It should be shaped kinda like a rugby ball, just a big, huge hunk of untrimmed beef. They go for about 50 bucks.

Then go on YouTube and watch a couple of tutorials on how to butcher this particular cut of meat. Follow the steps (you might have to go and get a nice knife to trim with, but trust me, it’s an investment well worth making) and butcher down the top sirloin into individual steaks. The last whole top sirloin I bought netted me about 18 individual steaks along with at least a pound of trimmings.

Save the trimmings as well and throw them into a crock pot or a big dutch oven and use them to make beef stew, adding in some sweet potatoes, red onions or shallots, garlic, carrots, and any other vegetable that floats your boat. If you end up with roughly one pound of trimmings, use about two cups of water or maybe one cup of water and one cup of red wine and toss in a few cubes of beef stock or vegetable stock, or a couple of each. You might have to adjust the liquid level to bring the stew to the preferred consistency. But this should get you at least a couple days’ worth of stew right off the bat.

Take the individual steaks and wrap them in butcher paper and then put each one into a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. Each morning before school, take one of the steaks out of the freezer and set it on a plate on your kitchen counter. A couple hours before dinner time the steak will be thawed out, so unwrap the thing and sprinkle some freshly cracked pepper on each side, add some salt, rub it in and then coat with a very thin layer of olive oil. I like to use garlic-infused olive oil, which you can find at Costco as well. Let the steak sit like this until you are ready to start the grill. Heat the grill up nice and hot and then throw the steak on and let it cook on either side for no more than 5 or 6 minutes per side, depending on how thick you’ve cut them and how well-done/rare you like it. If you have a meat thermometer, aim for a temp of about 125 for rare and up to 150 for medium. If you like it well-done, go fuck yourself.

If you want to spice the meat up a little more, I recommend adding in a little bit of rosemary, or maybe a touch of coriander and cumin. But unless you’re buying really shitty cuts of meat, salt and pepper with a thin coat of olive oil is enough. You don’t want to distract from the beef’s natural flavor.

You can also buy whole pork tenderloins at Costco for anywhere from 10-20 bucks a pop. It’s a long cut, almost shaped like a huge, two foot long burrito. YouTube has some tutorials for butchering this cut of meat as well and it’s really, really simple. You’ll simply cut about the last six inches off of each end and end up with two different types of roasts. You can then cut the middle section into thick pork loin chops (about 1" thick) or you can cut them close to 2" thick and then butterfly each of them by almost cutting them in half again and then spreading open, like a butterfly’s wings.

Again, I recommend bagging and preparing the pork loin chops the same way you would the steaks above. Keep in mind that pork wants to cook to a bit higher of an internal temperature than steak does. 145 for medium-rare should be perfect. For the pork roasts, there are plenty of easy recipes on the Internet. I prefer to cook them in the oven rather than on a grill with some sort of sauce over the top and lots of rosemary, thyme, garlic and pepper.

By getting your meat at Costco and butchering it yourself, you’re going to save about 50% of the cost and still get some pretty nice cuts of meat. You can also try a beef tenderloin and get really nice tenderloin roasts and some filet mignons, but even counting the savings you’ll get you’re still looking at about 100 dollars per tenderloin, maybe more. But butchering on your own is THE way to go.

To add to DB Coopers post, if only a little, if you do that, you need a proper set of knives and you need to know how to sharpen them.

For a kitchen knife, maybe 17 to 21 degrees, there are sharpening tools that have a built in angle.

Of course you can also go the wetstone route but if its all about economy, why do that.

Yes, a proper set of knives costs money, yes, a proper set of sharpening tools costs money too.

But, once you got it, it pretty much lasts forever.

Unless you get one of the electrical sharpening tools, they work, but they take off way too much.

Mine cost 6$ and it just wont quit.

As far as eating in conjunction with your weightlifting, you’re probably best off just keeping things simple. Rather than concentrate on some sort of carb cycling thing or whatever the hell the newest thing is these days, just try to eat whole foods and not a lot of processed shit. I know that when you’re in college it’s hard to stay away from processed foods and even harder to find the time to cook every meal of the day, but a good approach that I still follow is this:

In the mornings, I don’t like to fuck around with a lot of prep time bullshit so this is when I indulge in processed foods, namely cereal. I’ll simply scarf down a big bowl of Wheaties or Chex or Frosted Mini-Wheats or sometimes Cinnamon Toast Crunch with 1% milk. Less frequently, I take frozen strawberries, a couple big scoops of peanut butter, a few eggs, a scoop of protein powder, a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt and some water and blend it all together. I like a fast breakfast so I’m not rushed in the morning and have time to read the news and that sort of thing.

I like to have some brown rice cooked up and ready to go in the fridge, and I usually cook a whole bag of boneless chicken breasts ahead of time so that I can grab a couple and a cup or so of rice for lunch. I just heat it up at work in the microwave since I don’t really like eating cold meat that much.

For dinner, I usually eat steak or pork as described previously, and on the weekends I’ll make a big thing of whole-wheat pasta using lean ground beef or ground turkey. I also add in some spinach to get some vegetables in there as well. When I eat pork or steak, I typically just steam some sort of vegetable to eat on the side, usually broccoli or, when my garden is in bloom, some squash or zucchini or a couple bell peppers. I also try to eat some sort of salad, again with stuff from my garden most of the time, and just use an olive oil/vinegar dressing.

I keep snacks around for between meals. Typical stuff like avocados, apples, bananas, cashews, sometimes tortilla chips and salsa or, less frequently, one of those packages of mini-cinnamon rolls that they sell at Costco. It’s shitty, I know, but I get a sweet tooth sometimes and I almost always indulge myself when I do.

As you can see, this stuff is all really easy to cook and for the most part, it’s not bad for you. I’m sure there is a lot of other ways I could maximize my diet, but quite frankly, when I was in college and right now as well, I simply don’t want to have to put a whole lot of thought into what I eat and when I eat it. I eat a breakfast that gets me out the door quickly and I try to eat some good meat and vegetables for lunch and dinner with a piece of fruit or some nuts for a snack. In order to get some more carbs from time to time, I try to eat pasta once or twice a week with a marinara-based sauce.

When I workout, I just bring a big thermos filled with coffee, a couple tablespoons of live honey, about 6 oz. of milk and a scoop or two of protein powder. I slam a glass of milk and another scoop or two of protein right after I workout.

So there’s some food ideas for you. Chicken is hard to fuck up, really, so I didn’t give you anything specific there. Slap some barbecue sauce on it or marinate it in some sort of oil-based salad dressing for the day and you’re good to go.

Oh man I have some great ones from my college days. They’re super easy to make. The first one is called “tuna, beans, and ranch”. Dump one can of black beans and two cans of tuna into a bowl, pour a bunch of ranch dressing over top of it, and throw it in the microwave for a minute or so. So quick to prepare!

“Chili, tuna, and rice” is another good stalple. Get some of that 5 minute rice, cook it up (you’ll actually have to boil water which is annoying), then dump a can of chili and a can of tuna over it, microwave, and enjoy!

If you want a really killer chili recipe, I gave the T-Nation a special treat by posting my now not-so-super-secret, award-winning chili recipe on here a couple years ago. Just search DBCooper chili recipe in the search bar and it should pop up somewhere. It’s very involved, not cheap to make, takes most of the day and uses a shitload of ingredients. But it’s well worth it and if you follow the recipe to a T you’ll end up with roughly 9 quarts of chili, which should last you more than a week. The good thing about chili is that it does really well after being refrigerated and reheated, and it does just as well after being frozen and reheated, so you can freeze a bunch of it up if you don’t want to eat chili every night for dinner for ten straight days.

There have been at least a couple of people on here who have tried my recipe out and the returns have been great. Also, while it is a pretty involved recipe, it’s detailed enough to allow you to pick and choose certain methods or ingredients to skip in order to shorten the prep time down or drop the cost of it down to a more reasonable level. But given how long it can last you and how good it is when done right, I still think the full recipe is a good deal. The last time I cooked it I think everything came out to about 50 bucks, although I had several of the ingredients already. I would estimate that if you have absolutely none of the ingredients already, it will set you back about 80 bucks or so.

I would also recommend going out and splurging on a nice 9-qt dutch oven. They’re cast iron, so if you take proper care of it the fucking thing will last as long as your children are alive. And the cast iron retains flavor extremely well, so each meal tastes better than the last one. Also, these things are great for throwing a bunch of random shit into it and letting it simmer all day for a good stew. I also recommend cooking chili in them. I got a 9-qt dutch oven with a nice lid and handle for carrying for about 90 bucks at a local hardware store. I think the price might have been a little steep, but I think you could probably find one of that size for around 70 dollars if you do a little research.

They’re well worth it, though. They’ll make cooking easier for you, you won’t need to use a bunch of different dishes to cook a meal, they retain flavor better than any of that stainless steel bullshit all the kids are using these days, and they’re big enough to allow for several days’ worth of meals to be cooked in them. If you’re really pressed for cooking time throughout the week, you could simply cook up some shit in one of them on a Sunday afternoon and have enough food prepared for dinner from Monday thru Friday.

Fuck, I remember when I was in college I tried to eat well since I was an athlete, but I still ended up eating a lot of cocaine, blunts and booze for dinner each night, along with some poontang served on the side.

[quote]csulli wrote:
Oh man I have some great ones from my college days. They’re super easy to make. The first one is called “tuna, beans, and ranch”. Dump one can of black beans and two cans of tuna into a bowl, pour a bunch of ranch dressing over top of it, and throw it in the microwave for a minute or so. So quick to prepare!

“Chili, tuna, and rice” is another good stalple. Get some of that 5 minute rice, cook it up (you’ll actually have to boil water which is annoying), then dump a can of chili and a can of tuna over it, microwave, and enjoy![/quote]

Hahahhahahaha, those both sound awful!

A black & decker rice and veggie steamer.

You must have one of these. There is no way around it.

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Go to Costco and buy a whole boneless top sirloin. It should be shaped kinda like a rugby ball, just a big, huge hunk of untrimmed beef. They go for about 50 bucks.

Then go on YouTube and watch a couple of tutorials on how to butcher this particular cut of meat. Follow the steps (you might have to go and get a nice knife to trim with, but trust me, it’s an investment well worth making) and butcher down the top sirloin into individual steaks. The last whole top sirloin I bought netted me about 18 individual steaks along with at least a pound of trimmings.

Save the trimmings as well and throw them into a crock pot or a big dutch oven and use them to make beef stew, adding in some sweet potatoes, red onions or shallots, garlic, carrots, and any other vegetable that floats your boat. If you end up with roughly one pound of trimmings, use about two cups of water or maybe one cup of water and one cup of red wine and toss in a few cubes of beef stock or vegetable stock, or a couple of each. You might have to adjust the liquid level to bring the stew to the preferred consistency. But this should get you at least a couple days’ worth of stew right off the bat.

Take the individual steaks and wrap them in butcher paper and then put each one into a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. Each morning before school, take one of the steaks out of the freezer and set it on a plate on your kitchen counter. A couple hours before dinner time the steak will be thawed out, so unwrap the thing and sprinkle some freshly cracked pepper on each side, add some salt, rub it in and then coat with a very thin layer of olive oil. I like to use garlic-infused olive oil, which you can find at Costco as well. Let the steak sit like this until you are ready to start the grill. Heat the grill up nice and hot and then throw the steak on and let it cook on either side for no more than 5 or 6 minutes per side, depending on how thick you’ve cut them and how well-done/rare you like it. If you have a meat thermometer, aim for a temp of about 125 for rare and up to 150 for medium. If you like it well-done, go fuck yourself.

If you want to spice the meat up a little more, I recommend adding in a little bit of rosemary, or maybe a touch of coriander and cumin. But unless you’re buying really shitty cuts of meat, salt and pepper with a thin coat of olive oil is enough. You don’t want to distract from the beef’s natural flavor.

You can also buy whole pork tenderloins at Costco for anywhere from 10-20 bucks a pop. It’s a long cut, almost shaped like a huge, two foot long burrito. YouTube has some tutorials for butchering this cut of meat as well and it’s really, really simple. You’ll simply cut about the last six inches off of each end and end up with two different types of roasts. You can then cut the middle section into thick pork loin chops (about 1" thick) or you can cut them close to 2" thick and then butterfly each of them by almost cutting them in half again and then spreading open, like a butterfly’s wings.

Again, I recommend bagging and preparing the pork loin chops the same way you would the steaks above. Keep in mind that pork wants to cook to a bit higher of an internal temperature than steak does. 145 for medium-rare should be perfect. For the pork roasts, there are plenty of easy recipes on the Internet. I prefer to cook them in the oven rather than on a grill with some sort of sauce over the top and lots of rosemary, thyme, garlic and pepper.

By getting your meat at Costco and butchering it yourself, you’re going to save about 50% of the cost and still get some pretty nice cuts of meat. You can also try a beef tenderloin and get really nice tenderloin roasts and some filet mignons, but even counting the savings you’ll get you’re still looking at about 100 dollars per tenderloin, maybe more. But butchering on your own is THE way to go.[/quote]
Honestly if you check the sales at your local grocer you can find meat cheaper than at costco.

I know this because I work in a butcher shop. Also, go there in the mornings and you can find discounted meat that is going out of code a lot of times. We sell ground beef for $1.49 lb on the morning of the following day it was ground when it doesn’t sell the night before. You can also find good deals on things like ribeyes, new yorks, t-bone/porterhouse for around 3-$4 lb when they are marked down.

Go to your local store and get to know your morning butcher. If you are cool they can hook you up.

get whatever vegetables you like
get whatever meat you like
fry that shit up til the veg is soft and the meat is cooked to your liking
beat some eggs
dump some eggs on that shit
scramble that shit up
eat it
optional extra - hot sauce it up

pretty much the easiest meal in the history of cooking

Good tips on the crockpot and vegetable steamer. I would add a george foreman type grill to the arsenal. Get a bigger one, you can cook sliced vegetables on it, eggplant, zucchini, etc.

Get a 1-skillet cook book. Anything you can cook all at once is a bonus, plus one pan to clean at the end. Stir-frying is another great way to cook. You can buy pre made sauce or make your own. I like to do shrimp with broccoli, onions, sliced carrots, etc.

Rob

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
get whatever vegetables you like
get whatever meat you like
fry that shit up til the veg is soft and the meat is cooked to your liking
beat some eggs
dump some eggs on that shit
scramble that shit up
eat it
optional extra - hot sauce it up

pretty much the easiest meal in the history of cooking[/quote]

That is my breakfast pretty much every morning. It should be faster but I take my sweet fucking time in the AM

I am saving that excerpt you posted DB about your own butchering. I bought a decent sized freezer that has literally NOTHING in it so if I were to splurge a bit one day and butcher my own stuff I could start to fill up that bad boy.

OP- in terms of eating healthy at college, there are a lot of good suggestions here. In terms of efficiency for you, on days you don’t give a shit and just want to eat a good meal in a hurry, Costco has frozen pre-cooked chicken in a big ass bag for like $13 bucks for 3lbs from Tyson. You can also good Uncle Ben’s microwavable rice and some veggie steamers to nuke too. A whole meal that may take about 10 min with all the microwaving to make but it really requires no effort on your part. Throw some BBQ sauce or mix up some dijon mustard and honey and you are good to go! If you are not eating carby that day, throw together some lettuce or spinach, splash some dressing, and soem olive oil on it and now you’ve got a P+F meal.

George Foreman grill and a rice/veggie steamer (don’t leave the rice in there too long) will get you a long way. Crock pots are good and skillets as well. They do have ribbed skillets so you can still cook your food up like you would on a grill.

[quote]strungoutboy21 wrote:

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Go to Costco and buy a whole boneless top sirloin. It should be shaped kinda like a rugby ball, just a big, huge hunk of untrimmed beef. They go for about 50 bucks.

Then go on YouTube and watch a couple of tutorials on how to butcher this particular cut of meat. Follow the steps (you might have to go and get a nice knife to trim with, but trust me, it’s an investment well worth making) and butcher down the top sirloin into individual steaks. The last whole top sirloin I bought netted me about 18 individual steaks along with at least a pound of trimmings.

Save the trimmings as well and throw them into a crock pot or a big dutch oven and use them to make beef stew, adding in some sweet potatoes, red onions or shallots, garlic, carrots, and any other vegetable that floats your boat. If you end up with roughly one pound of trimmings, use about two cups of water or maybe one cup of water and one cup of red wine and toss in a few cubes of beef stock or vegetable stock, or a couple of each. You might have to adjust the liquid level to bring the stew to the preferred consistency. But this should get you at least a couple days’ worth of stew right off the bat.

Take the individual steaks and wrap them in butcher paper and then put each one into a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. Each morning before school, take one of the steaks out of the freezer and set it on a plate on your kitchen counter. A couple hours before dinner time the steak will be thawed out, so unwrap the thing and sprinkle some freshly cracked pepper on each side, add some salt, rub it in and then coat with a very thin layer of olive oil. I like to use garlic-infused olive oil, which you can find at Costco as well. Let the steak sit like this until you are ready to start the grill. Heat the grill up nice and hot and then throw the steak on and let it cook on either side for no more than 5 or 6 minutes per side, depending on how thick you’ve cut them and how well-done/rare you like it. If you have a meat thermometer, aim for a temp of about 125 for rare and up to 150 for medium. If you like it well-done, go fuck yourself.

If you want to spice the meat up a little more, I recommend adding in a little bit of rosemary, or maybe a touch of coriander and cumin. But unless you’re buying really shitty cuts of meat, salt and pepper with a thin coat of olive oil is enough. You don’t want to distract from the beef’s natural flavor.

You can also buy whole pork tenderloins at Costco for anywhere from 10-20 bucks a pop. It’s a long cut, almost shaped like a huge, two foot long burrito. YouTube has some tutorials for butchering this cut of meat as well and it’s really, really simple. You’ll simply cut about the last six inches off of each end and end up with two different types of roasts. You can then cut the middle section into thick pork loin chops (about 1" thick) or you can cut them close to 2" thick and then butterfly each of them by almost cutting them in half again and then spreading open, like a butterfly’s wings.

Again, I recommend bagging and preparing the pork loin chops the same way you would the steaks above. Keep in mind that pork wants to cook to a bit higher of an internal temperature than steak does. 145 for medium-rare should be perfect. For the pork roasts, there are plenty of easy recipes on the Internet. I prefer to cook them in the oven rather than on a grill with some sort of sauce over the top and lots of rosemary, thyme, garlic and pepper.

By getting your meat at Costco and butchering it yourself, you’re going to save about 50% of the cost and still get some pretty nice cuts of meat. You can also try a beef tenderloin and get really nice tenderloin roasts and some filet mignons, but even counting the savings you’ll get you’re still looking at about 100 dollars per tenderloin, maybe more. But butchering on your own is THE way to go.[/quote]
Honestly if you check the sales at your local grocer you can find meat cheaper than at costco.

I know this because I work in a butcher shop. Also, go there in the mornings and you can find discounted meat that is going out of code a lot of times. We sell ground beef for $1.49 lb on the morning of the following day it was ground when it doesn’t sell the night before. You can also find good deals on things like ribeyes, new yorks, t-bone/porterhouse for around 3-$4 lb when they are marked down.

Go to your local store and get to know your morning butcher. If you are cool they can hook you up.[/quote]

Yeah, but that’s all the non-fresh meat you’re talking about. The stuff I mentioned is always fresh and always available at that price at Costco. You don’t have to wait around for a sale or take the time to buddy up with the local butcher to get these deals.

Besides, how cool can someone who doesn’t know how to cook meat really be?