Published on November 20, 2014
In the first few months of your internship abroad, it is tough to resist visiting all the cool restaurants near your apartment and office. However, it is important to find a balance between taking advantage of the culinary opportunities in your new city (within reason) and accidentally spending your whole month’s budget on a single week of eating out. Especially if it is your first time living on your own without Mom’s home cooking or your university’s meal plan, feeding yourself might not come so naturally. Below, I have listed a few cooking tips (with some alliteration to boot!) to help you out!
Learning to cook should be fun, so don’t start with recipes that are too complicated! Cooking with rice and pasta is a good choice for beginners, as you can easily add a variety of sauces for flavor (starting with pre-packaged sauces, then working up to making your own!). After selecting a sauce for your rice or pasta, add some veggies and meat prepared with seasoning in a saucepan, and you’ll be set with enough food for several days of lunches and dinners!
Finding the motivation to cook something for dinner instead of ordering in food will be made much easier by already having the right ingredients on hand! Pastas, rice, lentils, and canned sauces have a long shelf life, so invest in some of these options to stock your pantry long-term. Then, on your weekly shopping trips, focus on buying fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, milk, and meat to use during the week. If you’re living with roommates, it might be a good idea to split a loaf of bread or jug of milk for the week, to avoid waste and cut costs!
Cooking is more fun when you have company! Pick one night each week to have “supper club” with your flatmates or other friends. This will help you stay within your personal budget, as you split the costs for ingredients between multiple people, and will also be more fun than cooking solo! Enjoy a bottle of wine while cooking and follow up your dinner with a movie to make a night of it.
Cooking dinner together is also a great way to learn! Much of what I learned about cooking in my first few months of living abroad came from cooking with my roommates, who are much more experienced in the kitchen and always willing to try new recipes with me! Cooking with my roommates has also been a great way to immerse myself in Chilean culture, as they have taught me new ways to implement palta (avocado-- a Chilean obsession!) in my dishes and have showed me how to make sopaipillas (fried pastries). With Thanksgiving coming up soon, it will be fun to make some traditional American dishes to share some of my own culture with them!
In summary, cooking for yourself doesn’t have to be hard! Over time, learning how to cook will enable you to eat healthier and more economically, enabling you to spend more of your resources on traveling and exploring your new city. ¡Buen provecho!