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My account goes negative about 300 dollars every paycheck heck every week. And it because I eat out so much. I have a problem. So this challenge I'm going to work on my cooking skills and cook very simple meals for every meal. Breakfast lunch and dinner even If its oatmeal or toast.

 

I've also finally started college again at GCU and working my bachelor's in buisness so I guess in working on wisdom too. And I'm taking medication for depression so that's a big step for me too.

 

Learning to balance college from home and a full time job is going to be tough so if you guys have any advice please comment. Even if its recipes or workouts saving money anything.

 

I need to get my life together.

  • Like 1

Natildora

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Starting school on top of work is going to make the convenience of eating out very appealing. So you need some backup plans for ultra convenience. The good news is, most things are cheaper and healthier than eating out a lot, so you have a lot of room. For instance, IIRC, there are cheap frozen burritos in the grocery store that would make a good backup plan when you're telling yourself it's time to eat out. Don't sweat it if you're getting a frozen lasagne from the grocery store once a week, and eating the leftovers the next day. It's cheaper at the grocery store, and you didn't eat out. Basically, you will need breaks from cooking every day, and don't expect to go from eating out all the time to making everything from scratch all the time. Use convenience foods.

 

There a lot of meals that aren't much more complicated than toast. Sandwiches are excellent meals at any time of day. There's a huge amount of stuff that's not much more complicated than taking something out of a bag and putting something else between bread.

 

Getting a taste for your own cooking may take a while. Your tastes have gotten used to very high salt, high sugar cooking, among other things. For now, for at least a week or two, buy the things that make you feel like you've had a real meal, whether it's chips or cans of soda or whatever. If it keeps you eating at home, it's a good choice. The things that make a meal seem as satisfying as one you buy isn't how complicated it is, but how you accessorise. A turkey sandwich is a turkey sandwich, but if you still want the purchased one, get a jar of pickles, a bag of baby carrots, and a bag of potato chips, and put some on the rest of the plate.  Make yourself a complimentary-tortilla-chips-and-salsa starter with every dinner if you want. Super cheap, takes no time. If your thing is French fries, oven baked French fries. Whatever takes away the temptation to go out for a while. You're basically working on a single habit at a time, not all of them.

 

Your next cooking level up for busy people who don't cook is, IMO, a rice cooker. (Get one with a steamer basket, so you can put an entire meal in at once if you want to.) The rice cooker is the most important kitchen staple on many continents, for good reason.  Frozen vegetables (they're cheap and, importantly, precut), rice, canned beans, and jarred sauces will take you far for very little effort. Find one easy source of salad; adding rice and a salad makes anything a serious meal. (For instance, those frozen burritos.) The next level up after that, IMO, is tray bakes, or roasting everything in the oven at once. (It helps to have one baking dish that you can serve to the table in, if you want to. Then you can bake different types of things on a tray at once, or one meal all in one dish.) That's delicious, and also introduces a lot of ways to add cheese. It's slightly less easy than the rice cooker only in that you can forget the rice cooker and it'll take care of shutting itself off and keeping your meal warm, while you'll need to remember to turn the oven off. Both of these options open up the world of leftovers, which are a godsend for people working and going to school. If you have the option to make many servings at once and store them for later, do it.

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I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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12 hours ago, Unikarm said:

Learning to balance college from home and a full time job is going to be tough so if you guys have any advice please comment. Even if its recipes or workouts saving money anything.

 

Background: I got both my bachelors and my masters while working full-time and raising a family. #Solidarity

 

You are trying to do a lot all at once! My biggest advice is to be kind to yourself. You are going to have weeks where everything is going to feel like too much and weeks that you are going to revert back to eating out every day and it's okay. 

 

Do you like to cook? Do you have any dietary restrictions (food allergies, etc...)? Do you have space for solutions like batch cooking? Do you share your kitchen with anyone that would partner with cooking duties? Will cleaning up after cooking be a challenge? 

 

How are your classes set up online? Do you have dedicated days you have log on - either for a Zoom class or to upload responses / work? Is everything work at your own pace?

 

A schedule is going to be your friend, and my advice would be to start there (unless you've already done that!). Look at your work hours and what your class schedule looks like (if it is work at your own pace, this is going to be harder, but you can still put together an estimate of what seems reasonable). This will also help you figure out what makes sense for cooking. If you work until 5, then have to log into a class from 6 - 9, you aren't going to reasonably have time to do much more than heat up something pre-made or eat a sandwich. This will help you figure out what your grocery list / meal plan should look like too.

 

Also, I see you tagged yourself as an Adventurer! Welcome to our Guild!

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Do you have a crockpot (slow cooker)?  Super easy recipe that's a big hit in my house is cooking chicken breast in salsa all day in the crockpot pulling it and serving it almost like a chicken taco; I put any left overs on salad or just even a packet of white rice.

 

2 chicken breast

medium jar of salsa

cook all day on low in a crock pot

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Hello guys thanks for the advice. I do have food sensitivities such as milk and wheat and almonds and cashews. I also have minor sensitivities to things like chicken and soy. But I'm not going to stop eating chicken lol.

 

Time management for pretty much daily life with college ang work is going to be tough. Its 2:30 in the morning and I'm awake and I sleep till 2 in the afternoon and then go to work at 3 to midnight. How am I going to do any of this!!

 

  • Like 1

Natildora

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2 hours ago, Unikarm said:

Hello guys thanks for the advice. I do have food sensitivities such as milk and wheat and almonds and cashews. I also have minor sensitivities to things like chicken and soy. But I'm not going to stop eating chicken lol.

 

I was fooled by the mention of toast. In that case, sandwiches are a bad idea (unless you have a good source of gluten free bread), and you may want to graduate straight to the rice cooker. :D

 

When you put in one part rice and two parts water, they magically make you perfect rice every time, stop cooking at the right time, and keep it warm for you. You can start it before getting in the shower and forget about it until you pack a lunch, or before your online class and have dinner ready any time you get a break. (Fancy rice? Add wheat-free chicken boullion and some of those frozen diced vegetables with carrots and peas to the rice before you hit the cook button. Onions. Raisins. Olives. Black beans. All sorts of things you can add, depending on what cuisine you're cooking.) You can put vegetables (frozen broccoli is a good one) and single servings of meat in the steamer basket (works better for chicken and fish, maybe pork, and not so much red meat), and it will cook at the same time, though, fair warning, you're trading flavor for ease when you do that, so be prepared to add it back with toppings or jarred sauce, or it'll be the blandest thing ever. But as a fast full meal taking five minutes of effort and waiting whenever you have a chance to come back to it, it's hard to beat. 

 

But also, simply having a bag of salad (or steamed veg) and automatic rice on hand makes it much easier to just handle the main dish, and it makes it easier to take advantage of things that can be cooked in bulk, like chili or curry or any of the zillion things people put on rice. (Slow cookers and instant pots do make this easier, but I'm assuming your kitchen has zero equipment, and we need to start cheap until you start seeing savings from eating at home. New rice cookers are usually about $20, and thrift stores and Craigslist often have them, I think.)

 

I guess the question is partly what you like to eat, because liking your cooking would be helpful.

  • Like 1

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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@sarakingdom has said almost everything I would have said about the joys of rice cookers, leftover rice, and jarred sauce. Though I personally would make frozen chicken burger patties/chicken fingers in the oven while the rice is cooking, then cut them up and add them to the meal. Always turns out delicious, and might help the transition from takeout if that's the kind of thing you were getting.

 

Two other things I will add.

 

Soup is your friend. From whatever stock cubes you like, with maybe a dash of soy sauce or sesame oil if you want. It will take any frozen vegetables or leftover vegetables you have, bits of leftover meat, and turn them into a brand-new meal for almost no effort or time. Swirl in an egg for extra protein for cheap.

 

My personal nemesis for home cooking is that I have to cook while I'm hungry, and then it feels too hard. So think about your snacks. Packaged snacks like chips are really expensive for what you get, IMO. What can you snack on that's cheap/maybe healthy that can get you past that desperation period? Or that you can eat when you don't have time to cook or don't feel that hungry? I also like having things that are small pieces (wontons, pierogies, spring rolls) in the freezer so that I can just throw a few on the stove or in the oven if I don't want a full meal. They go well with leftover rice and veggies, too.

Challenge:   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33  34  35  36  37  38  39 

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9 minutes ago, juliebarkley said:

Though I personally would make frozen chicken burger patties/chicken fingers in the oven while the rice is cooking, then cut them up and add them to the meal.

 

The oven or frying pan is generally better for meat, agreed.

 

Oh, also, potatoes are really cheap, and microwaves have great baked potato settings. If you have toppings you like on baked potatoes, those are easy.

 

13 minutes ago, juliebarkley said:

Packaged snacks like chips are really expensive for what you get, IMO.

 

This is absolutely true, and nor are they great for you. They're much cheaper than eating out, though, so if they're a useful meal backup for bad days (chips and hummus or fast nachos with shredded cheese and salsa have been emergency meals I've done), or if they keep you eating your own cooking while you get used to food with less salt and oil than restaurant food, I'd consider them a tool for sticking to the plan. It's a "Rome wasn't built in a day" kind of thing.

 

I've had periods of eating out for some reason, and weaning yourself off it isn't always easy. It's a habit that feeds a lot of different reward centers in the brain, and sometimes it's easier to take them one at a time. There was a time I was working on a project at all hours and eating out of the vending machine at work, and the habit was hard to break when the project was over and I went back to bringing my own lunch. Eventually I just stocked my office with cans of soda and single-serving bagged chips. I'm anti both of those things, but it interrupted the habit of walking to the vending machine and saved a lot of money compared to the habit I was breaking, without costing that much more than something homemade. When I ran out a couple of weeks later, I didn't buy more and broke the packaged snack food habit.

 

For the first month, pick your battles; don't try to do it all. That's what next month is for. This month, just break the habit of eating out. Ice cream and breakfast cereal for every meal if you want.

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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