I’m a notoriously bad shopper. This extends to pretty much all aspects of my life, which explains why about 92% of my wardrobe is H&M clothing. Essentially I just go for what’s easy and painless (praise the glory of Amazon.com). One of the few places I can’t just fall back on online shopping and sort by best reviewed or most popular is grocery shopping. This means that the rare occasions I can be spotted at a grocery store I’m usually just pacing blindly back and forth with an empty expression of despair in my eyes.
For this reason I have resolved to put down a list of “Kitchen essentials for the lazy exchange student” to make my life easier. With these at hand (in fridge) you’ll be sure to cook yourself through any troubles and have a mediocre meal to show for it.
This one is rather obvious; we need salt, pepper and paprika. But wait! There’s more! Next time you go to a burger place put on some nice clothes (read: no sweat stains) and hit on the waitress. Just casual, mind you. A nice tip is to pretend to be just a wee bit drunk to fight the awkwardness, but not enough to be the annoying, loud drunk. Whatever you do, you must refrain to give her a friendly pat on the back because that’s sexual harassment (even if it’s acceptable behavior for old men in some countries; Italy). The point of all of this trouble is to be able to pseudo-jokingly ask the waitress, as you’re about to leave, if you can keep the steak&fries seasoning they keep at the table. If you’ve played your cards well, she will smile and say “yes”. Wink her to show appreciation. This spice is a wonderful addition to your spice cabinet as it goes with damn near everything.
If you’re a vegetarian you should take a moment here to reflect on your priorities and then spend whatever time is left on missing bacon. I like to keep chicken, beef and pork at hand and rotate between them. This keeps my food pyramid from becoming too stagnant, because obviously they’re all seasoned with the same burgerplace-spice. What I do, to keep my budget down, is getting them in bulk, then putting it all in individual meal size zip-lock bags and store it all in the freezer. Because I’m somewhat ecologically conscious I also reuse the zip-lock bags (protip). Now all you have to do is remember to take your meat of the day out of the freezer in the morning so it’s thawed up and nice when you’re planning to cook it. WARNING! I don’t trust microwaves, so do not use the de-freeze function on them!
Onion, sweet potatoes, white mushrooms, peppers and zucchini are staples in my fridge. Like all the items on this list they go with damn near anything. Omelet, fried vegetable side, vegetable soup, sauces. That’s everything! This also reminds me of the next object…
Eggs keep for a long time and serve as a quick meal when time is limited. Other than the obvious uses in omelets and sandwiches, I also sometimes hard boil a few of them and keep them in the fridge for later use.
Skyr + bananas
I’ve coupled this combo because I always eat them together. See Skyr is an Icelandic traditional yogurt. In america it’s actually classified as a cheese, but never mind that. Skyr is naturally fat free, low calorie and extremely high in protein, so it’s really good for you. But natural, unsweetened Skyr is also pretty sour, so to counter than I enjoy it with sliced bananas, as a source of natural sweetness. It’s perfect for “that 2:30 feeling” (that’s a trademark owned by 5 hour energy). Skyr is available in Whole Foods, you should try it out.
Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce
This goes along with the spice section above, it goes fantastically with all the meats and spices above. Nothing more to say on this one. It’s the best BBQ sauce by far.
Oat meal + raisins
I start every morning with a bowl of oatmeal. It’s super quick and easy, just throw it in the microwave for 30 secs and let it sit for a minute and it’s ready. In America there’s a vast array of flavored, prepackaged oatmeal available, but you don’t need it. Just buy one of those huge cylinders of pure oatmeal and sweeten it with raisins. It’s so much cheaper, lasts forever and is a lot healthier. It’s also really tasty.
This one is an old camping secret of mine. Whatever you’re cooking, literally whatever, you can always use chips to make it better. Need some breadcrumbs to bread your pork? No, silly, use crushed chips! Are you lacking some crunch to your burger? Well, throw some chips on it! Did you run out of burger flirty-spice? Just crush up some chips and sprinkle them on there! It’s as easy as that.
This concludes my list for now. With these new found culinary weapons in your artillery, you should all be on the fast track to becoming adequate, albeit sub-par, cooks in no time!