Can't Cook, Please Help!!!

  1. Hey everyone,
    I'm getting ready to start nursing school on Monday and I'll be living on my own in my apartment, which is a little over an hour from my house. Well I don't know how to cook, and I don't want to spend tons of money on take-out or anything like that. Does anyone have any ideas on how I won't starve, or gain 100lbs over the next 9 months while I'm in school. Anything would be helpful, like good cookbooks, easy ingredients that I can use, all suggestions would be helpful. Thanks so much.
  2. There's a lot of good recipe sites online. It's free and you can just print them out and put it on the counter next to you while you cook. That way if you spill something on it or whatever, you can just throw it away. is a good one (it has all the recipes from food network) and is great, because it has reviews and ratings for all it's recipes. If you want to make something fancy then is good.

    Just figure out what you want to make and search for simple recipes with as few ingredients/steps as possible. I recommend trying first. Then, just follow the recipe. If you can follow directions, you can cook! It's not has hard as people make it seem. It gets much easier with practice, too.

    If you want a basic cook book that explains ingredients and how to do different techniques, I recommend The Joy of Cooking. It's simple, but very thorough. It has a lot of great information and basic recipes.
  3. Congrats on starting nursing school!!

    During the first two years of my first marriage we were "poor"--my ex was going to grad school so we were living off what I made as a nurse back in the early 90s. I found a great cookbook called "365 Way to Cook Chicken" which went nicely with my grocery budget. Of course you have to really like chicken, LOL...

    Also I used to date a guy who ate the following: Monday, baked chicken breast, steamed rice, steamed broccoli. Tuesday, baked fish, steamed rice, steamed broccoli. Wednesday, see Monday. Thursday, see Tuesday. Repeat ad infinitum. Verrrry boring but cheap and easy!
  4. CHICKEN BREASTS...after you buy them at the market, store them individually in ziploc bags...add to chicken some lemon, salt, pepper and crushed garlic in one bag, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar and crushed ginger in another, pesto and black pepper in another, lemon, salt and soy sauce in another...freeze themm.

    Defrost them in the bottom fridge in the morning on your way out and when you get home for dinner just quickly sate or broil..enjoy with a quick pasta, potatoes or anything else you like..this is what I do all the time..I even do that to my steaks and chicken wings....marinating is so awesome and easy and makes it seem like you spent a lot of time cooking!! Not to mention the ziplocs help make your freezer very very neat looking and meats easier to defrost.

    Hope this helps!!:drool:
  5. I would suggest keeping frozen fruit and veggies on hand, frozen pizzas, macaroni and cheese, etc. for easy meals. Also canned foods like your favorite beans, stews, and fruit. Have plenty of pasta and rice on hand.

    And don't forget a candy bar and your favorite gum! :supacool: Hope that helps.
  6. I second simpleplan's opinion. It's basically what I do myself!! Chicken breasts or fajitas make a quick and easy meal. You add frozen veggies (defrosted, of course) while you're sauteeing the chicken and you've got a stir-fry. Sirloin steaks are also easy to cook, just add some lemon, pepper and salt, then cook it with a little oil in a flat pan til it turns brown. Same thing for pork chops. Fish filets, just add pepper and butter and cook the same way (spare the oil, though).

    Make sure you keep around cans of Campbell's veggie creams (broccoli, potato, corn, etc); mac n cheese boxes, spaghetti and pasta sauce, and rice.

    This is the easiest recipe for rice! Melt some butter in a deep pan. Add the rice and mix it with the butter. Pour 2 1/2 cups of water for every cup of rice (and one cup of it should do). Then add 1 spoonful of chicken bouillon (it's a seasoning powder you can find anywhere, look for brands like Knorr or Maggi), and let it boil. When it boils, cover it and lower the flame until the rice is tender (cooked), and the water is gone. Voila!!
  7. Thank you so much for your help guys, I really appreciate all your suggestions, and I plan on using every single one of them. I just didn't want it to be like when I was in college, living in the dorm, and eating ramen noodles at 1am in the morning.
  8. I'll give a whole-foods perspective, as that is what I follow :yes: ; processed foods are what will get you when you're busy!

    Chicken breasts can be pricey unless you buy them frozen in bulk; in fresh packs they are the most expensive piece of chicken. Thighs are a great cut that are less expensive and have a lot of flavor; drumsticks are always tasty and easy to cook! Thigh-drumsticks (attached) are good also.

    Pork chops are delicious and always pretty cheap; panko breaded and baked they are so yummy! Certain beef cuts are much less expensive than other cuts. "T-bones" "filet" "Ribeye" are all great, but are more expensive; less expensive cuts are wonderful, they just don't have that high-end reputation. Look up different cuts and special ways to cook them, cuts that most people don't buy. Beef ribs are great after they have been stewing for a couple of hours.

    Keep fresh or frozen veggies on hand for steaming or pan-cooking (like peas, french cut green beans, snow peas, brussel sprouts, okra, etc.) You can even by pre-cut chunks of butternut squash at the store, which can be cooked quickly and then pureed and seasoned for a great soup. I swear cabbage can be such a time-saver, and it has a long fridge survival time. It's great sliced think and pan fried with apple cider vinegar, dill, and olive oil.

    Brown rice, pastas, grits/polenta, quinoa, farro, etc. are all good carbs to include with meals, even canned beans are great, like chickpeas, black beans, cannellini beans and such. Roast chicken drumsticks or thighs seasoned with rosemary, along side brown rice w/a bit of butter, and fresh steamed green beans makes simple and yummy dinner, quite healthy.

    Random Ideas: Quick healthy lunches are easy with tuna salad, bean salads alone or eaten with crusty bread, roasted chicken salad made from the leftovers of a whole roasted chicken (easy to buy pre-made at most grocery stores), canned black beans heated up w/spices and onion tossed into a tortilla with tomatoes, cheese, and a bit of sour cream, baked oatmeal w/cream, sugar, and cinnamon for breakfast (make a good bit and eat it for a few days heated up!), boil eggs in advance and eat off those for a few days too. Making and freezing your own raviolis in advance is easy also. At Trader Joes you can purchase little bags of fresh pizza dough for $0.99 a piece, and just throw some sauce/cheese/toppings on for a quick pizza. Crackers are fast and easy to make lots of to have lying around for snacking w/cheese and other toppings- not many people think to make their own crackers, but it's sooo easy and they're tasty (and kept in a tightly sealed container, they last for quite a while) Keeping lots of fresh fruit around will deter you from going for unhealthier snacks like chippies and such.

    Oh and toss your chicken carcasses in a pot with some onion and carrots and study while it cooks down, then let it cool and toss it into containers or bags to have stock on hand! Or buy good organic stock to keep around for stews, soups, etc. You can do the same with pork/beef bones.

    I highly, highly recommend Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" because it has tons and tons and tons of veggie sides, sandwiches, appetizers, soups, etc. to accompany meat meals or just to eat as they are. I use that cookbook constantly!
  9. congrats! on starting nursing school.
    i understand where u are coming from leaving home and not being able to cook. i literally shudder now thinking about what i ate the first 2 years or so after i moved out before i gave in and learned to cook and now i wonder why i didn't start earlier.
    the thing that helps me the most is (usually late on a sunday night while watching the telly) is writing out the weeks meals and i stick that meal plan to the inside of a kitchen cabinet and cross them off as i go. i find this helps me in lots of ways because i do the planing with my diary next to me so it gives me a chance before the week starts to go over what is happening that week, i can write a shopping list fast just by going thru the meals and most importantly it keeps me on track nutrition wise in that i'm making sure i'm not eating too much meat or carb heavy meals in a row. plus at least once a week i like to make a new recipie so this makes sure i acctually do it.
    i can't be bothered to cook everynight so i eat alot from the freezer, when i cook a curry say i eat 1/4 and freeze the other 3/4 in individual pkts, i even freeze cooked rice in individual pkts so i can just come home and steam some green vegie and nuke the curry and rice pkts.
    here is a few quick things i do:

    Omelette: fry up a onion in a sml non-stick pan with little knob of butter with a tiny spash of olive oil a good grind of salt untill almost caramelised chuck in a slug of marsala and remove to plate. then beat three eggs put it in the fry pan when it's almost cooked, add the onions and some sharp cheese like a vintage cheddar. serve with a green salad.
    some other toppings: Basil pesto, diced tomato, mushrooms, red capsicum/peppers, chili, fresh parsley, marinated fetta, salt, pepper, topped with mozzarella cheese

    sake chicken soup (i make this alot, i think it is from a nigella lawson recipie)
    chop up 2 chicken thighs into sml bite size pieces mariante 1hr in 4 tablespoons sake, 3 tab mirin, 1 tab soy sauce, 1tsp dried chilli flakes. heat up a little bit of oil in frying pan and fry chicken bits plus mariande untill it is reduced down and stickyish. Tip into pot containg 1 litre (= 1 gallon, i think) of simmering chicken/veg stock plus a couple of pkts of individual serve hoiken noodles (200g each) or 1 pkt hoiken noodles and your choice of dried asian egg noodles. stir it all together and garnish with chopped up coriander and a sprinkle of seasme oil.

    feta basil quiche: use a pre made pastry shell or make your own, tons of recipies online.
    melt 30g (2 tab) butter, 1 tab olive oil saute 2 sliced onions with 1 tsp sugar, 1sp basalmic vinegar untill onion is caramelised. spread on base of pastry.
    Top with 200g feta (hmm about 1/2 cup), then 1/4 cup shreded fresh basil, 3 strips grilled baccon chopped, 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes.
    whisk 3 eggs, 1/2 cup greek yougurt, 1/2 tsp mustard pdr together. pour over filling. sprinkle with parmesan.
    bake 180 degres (350F) 30 min (until golden on top)

    good luck!
  10. Hi mzjones,

    Have you thought about one of those "cook shops" where you go the the place and the ingredients are already prepared, you just put the meals together, take them home and freeze them? Should be enough meals for a week or more. You basically pay a fee for the service but they supply all the food and prep. materials.

    I don't know where your located but here's a couple sites that have this service.


    CA, AZ, NY, FL, TX


    Hope this helps and CONGRATS on starting school.
  11. If you're interested in learning recipes that aren't that complicated, check out Williams-Sonoma's book called Cooking for Yourself. The recipes are easy and delicious!
  12. Another helpful tool is They have tons of recipes, and you can also look for recipes based on the ingredients you have at hand.