Tips & Tricks

Learn to Cook

There will be a lot of fast food restaurants where you are going, DO NOT EAT OUT EVERY DAY! This will get super expensive and it will be one of the reasons you have no money left quickly. Learn to cook. Figure out what kinds of food you like and find recipes and videos online and learn how to make them. 
It is better to grocery shop, make food at home, save leftover food to take with you to school or to have later. It saves you A LOT of money.
Most recipe websites have videos to show you how to make the meal, or step by step detail with pictures to follow along.

Work Together

Work with your roommates to help share responsibility and bills. Build a grocery list together based on food you will make during the week, and pool your money to buy the groceries. If one roommate is really good a cooking and you are not, then help with dishes. 
Also ask to learn and help with preparations so when you are on your own you know what to do.

Tips for Grocery Shopping for One

  • Don’t get a shopping cart
  • Don’t buy more food than you can eat that is perishable

If you’re cooking for one you won’t need a massive shopping cart which only encourages shoppers to fill it up. Stick with the shopping basket and you’re guaranteed to keep costs low and only buy the food you will eat. Food waste is a huge problem across the globe so being mindful of what you buy is imperative.
How do you do this? You plan your meals.

Meal Plan

Who really knows what they want to eat every day for the rest of the week? I know I don't! If you do, amazing, start planning on what you need to get at the grocery store. Make that list!
If you are like me and have no real plan, try this: Write out all the meals you would like to eat over the next week or two. With these recipes in mind, write out the list of ingredients you will need. Keep your meal ideas pinned to your fridge, and everyday look at your master meal list

Tools & Resources

Kitchen Essentials: Cooking Staples

Please note, these are only suggestions.

  • Olive oil or Canola Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Spice/herb blends, e.g., Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, steak seasoning, chili mix, taco mix
  • Canned beans/dried beans
  • Canned soup
  • Tuna
  • Pasta sauce
  • Pasta
  • Rice


  • Flour: all purpose, whole wheat or pastry
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • Chocolate: chips or bar
  • Vanilla extract


  • Granulated sugar
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup

Quick Eats

  • Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix (if allowed, allergies in residence)
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Applesauce


  • Coffee (instant or other depending on tastes)
  • Black tea
  • Green tea

Ingredient Alternatives

Don't have all the ingredients a recipe calls for? The meal is not ruined. Check out this link for ingredient alternatives

or this website:
The Ultimate Baking Substitution Guide

Kitchen Essentials: Tools

  • A sharp knife or two (for cutting meat and vegetables)
  • Tongs
  • Peeler
  • Ladle (for soup)
  • A spatula
  • A large 8-quart deep pot (for cooking pasta)
  • A 10-inch frying pan 
  • A small frying pan (for eggs)
  • Metal mixing bowl(s)
  • A baking sheet 
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • A colander (for draining pasta and rinsing vegetables)
  • 2 cutting boards (one for vegetables; one for meat)
  • A can opener
  • Containers for leftovers
  • dish towels
  • pot holders
  • aluminum foil
  • plastic wrap/beeswax wraps
  • sandwich-size re-closable plastic bags
  • paper towels
  • sponges
  • dish soap
  • dishwasher liquid
  • dinner plates
  • soup bowls/cereal bowls
  • flatware set
  • beverage glasses
  • coffee mugs


Found the perfect recipe but you can't figure out the measurements? Google and Siri can help you out in a pinch! (Pun intended) Or check out some of these useful websites:

Volume Conversions for Recipe Ingredients

Cooking Recipe Converter

Measurement Converter