Feeding the single guy
Are you the type who puts off shopping until all that’s left in the fridge are packets of mild taco sauce?
It always comes down to this: an empty fridge with spoiled milk, condiments and a barren pantry, marked with one packet of the dreaded chicken ramen. It’s hard to explain how it gets this far, but sure enough, it occurs at least once every two months. Maybe it’s that the idea of having to go to the grocery store every two weeks or so hasn’t quite sunk in. Or the idea that food gets consumed, then it’s gone. Or maybe it’s that money is tight and shopping, along with dining out, is really out of the question.
There are ways to survive when this happens. And with advice from various friends, I’ve developed a few ways to get through a pinch.
Everything lasts longer in the crisper drawer, doesn’t it? When you stash something away in the drawer, sometimes you forget it’s there. This adds days, even weeks to the life expectancy of edibles. Unfortunately, before using the famed drawer, you have to clean it out—something not many are prepared for. Here’s a drawer storage tip: Always wrap things up. Tuna left uncovered in a bowl not only leaves an unpleasant aroma and spoils quickly, but it will also cause your roommate to hate you.
Don’t misjudge the life span of perishable foods. You’d think bread could last for two weeks wrapped tightly, but it rarely does. My girlfriend told me I should place the entire loaf in the freezer and only take out slices as I use them. This adds weeks to the life of the loaf.
Judging the expiration of milk and other dairy products is a little tougher. Properly wrapped cheese can last for a long time. If discoloration begins at the edges, you can simply cut off the bad parts. This does not work with milk. No matter how many of the curds you skim from the top, it is not safe to drink.
Cooking with George
It’s not the best way to cook, but damn near every college student has one, and so should you, single male. So take a productive trip to Sears for a George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine. (It’s hard to think of that guy being lean or mean, let alone a former world champion boxer.)
Truthfully, his contraption doesn’t do much right at all. Try to cook a piece of chicken, and it turns the outside to leather. Grilled cheese sandwiches are flattened to the width of term papers. And cleaning the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine sucks. But it is quick, and that’s where it makes up for its cons. By the way, grilled cheese is a difficult thing to always have on hand because it involves two perishables. One way to eliminate a perishable is to replace that huge block of cheddar with cheese in a can. Really. It doesn’t taste all that bad.
Also, just through pure laziness I learned that if you don’t clean the grill exactly every time you cook, spices left over from yesterday’s chicken will add some interesting and flavorful nuances.
Another way to get around the shopping experience is to get a job at a food establishment. I supplement my meager writing income by working at a pizza place. You usually get at least one free meal per shift, and any time there is a mistake, you don’t throw it away; you eat it. This is better for the owners because instead of having to eat the cost themselves, they can let their employees do it for them.
Remember, employing any of these tactics is only meant to get you through a short amount of time. Ramen only goes so far—even if you do cook up any of the 1,000 or so recipes online. (My least favorite recipe involves making a pizza with crust made of ramen.) If things get worse than this, a trip to the grocery store is unavoidable.