Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cooking With Zach: Part 1

Zach is home for summer break after his first year of college.  Next year he plans to live off campus, in a house, with at least seven other students.  Zach said this summer he needs to learn how to cook!  I make excuses, but since I have just one kid and since I love to cook, I have done a lot of cooking for Zach over the years and should have probably taught him before now.  Given my love for cooking, I am pretty excited about cooking with Zach this summer. 

Earlier this week, I showed him how to cook up some eggs and precooked turkey sausage (we love Johnsonville brand precooked turkey sausage).  I helped him get familiar with the new stove we have.  We talked about some meals he'd like to be able to make and then we were off to the grocery store.

At the store, we did a lot of price comparison.  I explained how precooked convenience foods are often way more expensive but sometimes it's worth paying a bit extra for that convenience.  Precooked/grilled and sliced chicken breasts in the freezer section are probably about $5.00 or $6.00 for 12 ounces, but you can buy chicken breasts on sale for $1.99 per pound.  But the difference in price between uncooked and precooked breakfast sausage is not that much and you can get a lot of servings out of one small package of precooked breakfast sausage.  And if you are in hurry to get to class in the morning, a little convenience can get you out of the house on time. We also looked at the confusing sales; sometimes you have to buy four bottles of salad dressing so they are only $1.99 each, but sometimes you can just buy one and still get the sale price. I think they make it confusing on purpose to get you to buy more... just in case... so you don't miss out on the sale price.  I was pleased to see Zach was not too finicky about buying the generic store brand items and he selected the big old bags of cereal which are much cheaper.  We shopped with some coupons and I explained how the store's value card works and how he can get his own value card and save money on fuel.  I am hoping I can help Zach to become a smart shopper.

Pardon the silly expression on his face; this boy does not like his photo taken.

Zach has apparently seen one of friends cooking at school so he came home with some ideas of meals he'd like to prepare.  He said his friend made teriyaki chicken and rice with spinach and avocado.  At the store, we looked at frozen and fresh shrimp and found the fresh shrimp (on sale) was cheaper than hamburger.

At home we sauteed the shrimp in butter. We added a smashed clove of garlic to the butter for some extra flavor.  We made basmati rice as well.  Zach added some fresh spinach to the plate. While away at school, he learned he prefers spinach over lettuce.  He loves honey mustard dressing on just about anything.

The meal was great (we both had this meal for lunch) and the next day, Zach devoured the leftovers. For breakfast, he made eggs and he reheated the shrimp in the pan.  He wanted to try shrimp and eggs instead of turkey breakfast sausage and eggs.  He added feta, sharp cheddar, and Parmesan cheeses to the eggs and shrimp.   Ummm, not judging, but ewwWWWWW.  For dinner, he reheated some rice and shrimp and made another spinach salad.  Zach spent way too much money this past school year eating out at restaurants despite having a pretty adequate meal plan in the school dining hall. The remark he kept making while cooking and reheating was that he can't believe how much cheaper it is to cook at home, as compared to eating out.  I also hope to show him that cooking a lot at one time is a pretty good idea, so that you can make a few meals from leftovers. 

I think we are off to a good start.  Zach was sad his evening when he realized his shrimp was all gone.  Apparently, the garlic butter shrimp was a hit!  And it was super easy to prepare. 

And if you ever wondered about college campus meal plans, I learned that the dining hall meals at Zach's campus are $12.50 per meal.  So cooking at home can also save a lot of money as compared to eating in the dining hall. 

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