Xin Chào everyone! I’m Tram from Vietnam, currently studying a Diploma in Creative Industries at QUT International College. When I came to Australia, I was shocked to see how everything here was so expensive, even a cup of juice could be $7. Then I thought I would try cooking at home, since I rented a room in a shared house with a common kitchen, to save money and eat healthier. So today I want to share some useful tips with you from my six month experience of home cooking (and occasionally eating out)!
- First, get kitchenware and pantry staples: Head to Target or Woolworths to get a pot, a pan, some bowls, plates and cooking utensils. You don’t need a lot of those, so try not to overload your space with stuff that you’re not going to use. If you like to eat rice, consider getting a rice cooker for yourself or chip in with your housemates for a shared one. A lunchbox can be useful for those noon breaks between classes. Also, stock up your pantry with spices and condiments of your choice, like salt, pepper, ketchup or BBQ sauce. For me, I always need to have a bottle of fish sauce at hand.
- Go online and find some recipes that you like: Hmm, I got the kitchenware, now what should I cook? No worries, there are plenty of online sites that can help you with that. Think of what you want to eat, find recipes and save them to a list. I usually do this at the end of the week, before my next trip to the supermarket.
- Make a weekly meal plan: From your list of recipes, pick out a few dishes that you want to cook. It’s better to choose recipes that have some similar ingredients so you don’t need to buy a lot of different kinds of meat and vegetables, then have to get rid of the leftover ingredients. Alternatively, you can get veggies that have a longer shelf life, such as pumpkin and cabbage. Do you know that if you wrap them up and put them in the fridge, they can last at least a month? Making a meal plan will help you get a good idea of the amount of grocery to get, save time deciding what to cook and create a more balanced diet.
- Make a grocery list: A shopping list will save you from the temptation of getting stuff that you don’t really need at the supermarket. Trust me, I’ve been there a few times and it wasn’t fun exceeding my weekly budget. A list will also save you some time because you already know what to get.
- Finally, let’s get cooking!: Don’t forget to clean up and store your food properly. It’s alright if it takes you some time to get used to cooking at home. Practice makes perfect 🙂
In the past six months, I’ve enjoyed learning new recipes, from Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese to Western food. I’m having a much healthier and balanced diet, compared to only eating out, and my body and my bank account love me for it. I also learned to find time in my schedule for meal preparation and most importantly, take better care of myself. So I’m gonna leave you with some food photos and I hope you’ll find my tips helpful and consider trying to cook at home!