Why cooking for more is less

ID-100103270As a student all I ever seem to think about is money, money money… So finding little ways of saving is something one becomes passionate about. Saving is not all doom and gloom though. After moving into a house with six friends for the first time and not being particularly good or interested in cooking, we decided to try and cook dinner for each other six nights a week.

You’re probably thinking, ‘what a ridiculous idea? Nobody is ever in at the same time, let alone eating at the same time!’  Well… no, here is how we did it and why it’s such a great success.

We decided as a house, that one of us would cook each night of the week, leaving the 7th day as a ‘free for all’. No minimum or maximum spend was laid down, giving us both financial and creative freedom. If you were not around then we’d either wait or just plate the straggler up to be heated up later. If you’re away or go home, you’re still on the rota, everything comes back around eventually. There is no set time to eat. If you don’t like what you’re given, tough! Whoever cooks has full entitlement to leftovers. Nobody misses out unless they want to. Remember though that the rules are arbitrary, and exceptions must be accounted for.

Of course, it’s successful because it’s cheap, well as cheap as you want it to be. When we first started I capped my spending on dinner to £15. Which isn’t too bad considering that guaranteed your next five meals. Nowadays however, I spend little more than £10. The cost differences of each meal thankfully didn’t bother anyone and shouldn’t bother you. Remi, the house’ best chef would average an exaggerated £20 per meal. Harry, averaged the least per meal with a sensible £8, which more often than not, unfortunately entailed offal. It doesn’t take long to learn how cook cheaply though!

Nothing’s better than getting round the table with friends or family. Banter flows, life is debated and problems are solved. Regularly sitting and eating together makes you feel more at home, and happier at that. The social implications to the system are infinite. Having friends outside of the house round for tea is easy. Cooking for one, two, three or more people doesn’t add as much as you may think to the bill, and having people over just changes the dynamic up a bit. It’s a great way to return favours, or even impress.

Can’t cook? Don’t fear, just ask a friend or search online! Two of my housemates arrived at uni, not knowing how to make toast. Now they can impressively and independently cook an array of meals without help. There will always be someone in a house who roughly knows when something is cooked, or how long it will take to cook. Just ask. Listening to other people is not only the best way to learn, but also a great way to make a meal tastier, even if you know what you’re doing. Everyone has there own style and take on different meals. Listen and learn! Knowledge sharing is key.

Expect to see ‘variety’ as a continuous theme. I’ve eaten things I never would have heard of, and eaten things I’d never eat again mind. But that’s the great thing about it. Every day expect something different. Gone are the days of cooking a bolognaise on Sunday, to eat every night for the rest of the week. We eat fresh! Everyday.

Fatal flaws? Hangovers… oh please, get to know fast food in your area. We pick up six, eleven-inch pizzas for £15. If you can’t find deals as good as that, then ask your housemates to chip in a quid. It’s not your fault that your cooking day coincided with hangover day! Otherwise, step up and go shopping.

Cooking now to me is not hassle; it’s a social activity and one that I actually look forward to and enjoy. Something I want to share with everyone. If you take it up, you won’t look back.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Sam Adams

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