For me, cooking is a challenge. I have trouble doing too many things at once, such as trying to keep track of various pots and pans on the stove, in the oven, etc. The smells and the heat can be overwhelming. I also struggle with following recipes. If you are also on a budget while living independently, it can be hard to figure out what to eat. Here are some affordable, simple ideas based on things I cook for myself on a regular basis. These are things that can be cooked in the microwave (I love my microwave) but could also be cooked on the stove. I use the taller microwave safe storage containers (with lids) to avoid water boiling over.
1) Ramen noodles or rice with canned vegetables. I like canned carrots, peas, corn, or mushroom with my ramen. You can also use fresh vegetables, although they are sometimes more expensive. This makes one or two meals for me, unless I add more than one pack of ramen or use rice.
2) Rice and beans. I buy minute rice, even though it’s slightly more expensive than a traditional bag of rice. Minute rice cooks faster. I add canned beans like kidney beans or black beans. Sometimes I will add diced tomatoes or cheese. One container of beans and rice will be enough for me for lunch all week.
3) Vegetarian burritos or tacos. I buy the soft shell tortillas, which come in 8 or 10 per pack for about $1.50. You could use hard taco shells if you prefer. I use black beans, canned corn, a can of black olives, and half a cup of jarred salsa. I put it all in a bowl and microwave it, and then add it into the shells. Then I add shredded lettuce (you can buy bagged shredded lettuce) and cut up tomato. You could adjust this to include meat or whatever else you like in your tacos. You would probably need to cook the meat on the stove though. My mixture is enough to last for between three and five dinners.
4) Canned soup and a sandwich. I like melted cheese sandwiches with microwave bacon; I toast the bread first, microwave the bacon separately, add the bacon and cheese to the bread and then microwave it. But you could make any kind of sandwich with lunch meat or whatever your preference. With a can of soup, this makes one or two meals for me.
5) English muffin pizzas. I toast the muffin first, but you don’t have to. Then spread pizza sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Microwave until the cheese melts. These taste better in the oven, but I make them in the microwave a lot because the oven gives me anxiety.
6) Hot dogs. You can put a few hot dogs in the microwave for 30 seconds or less, then put them in buns and add your favorite condiments. One pack of hot dogs and buns makes dinner for me for a week. I like potato chips with mine, but I sometimes make a baked potato instead. Just poke holes in the potato with a fork or knife. A potato in my microwave takes five minutes.
7) Scrambled eggs. Yes, you can cook scrambled eggs in the microwave. I do it all the time. Just take them out to stir every 30 seconds or so. I add cheese to mine.
8) Pasta. I cook spaghetti and other shapes of pasta in the microwave every few weeks. Just buy a jar of sauce to go with it. You can heat the sauce in the microwave too. This makes a week’s worth of dinners for me. You can also take a slice of bread, butter it, and sprinkle it with garlic salt, then microwave for 15 seconds or so for an easy side of garlic bread.
9) Oatmeal. Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. You can buy the instant kind or the kind that takes longer, depending on your level of patience. I prefer the instant kind that has apple or some other fruit. If I make the plain kind, I will usually add raisins or fruit cocktail from a can to give it some taste.
10) Sausage biscuits and hashbrowns. Many frozen hash browns can be microwaved or put in the toaster. I like the microwave ones on the side of a sausage biscuit with cheese. I can usually find a box of frozen sausage biscuits for $3 or so, and they come with 8 per box. These come out really good in the microwave and save me a trip to McDonalds when I have a craving.
There are plenty more things you could make, such as frozen dinners and many other recipes. But these are my favorites. What are your favorite things to cook?