8 easy ways to start cooking from scratch

A guide to simple home-cooked meals for students

You toil over papers and your face, maybe even your back, breaks out over exams. You’re broke, and you found out the hard way what the Freshman 15 is. It’s hard to win in life during university years. But, you can eat well, really. You don’t have to suffer through KD and greasy pizza from that place you don’t even like.

With a few pointers and basic techniques, you can cook real food, easily impress your friends, and even charm the pants off your date. So, instead of Spanx or stretchy Lulu pants, invest a few dollars and a little time in cooking.

To help you get started, here’s the cheapest and easiest dishes to cook from scratch.


 The best place to start, pasta is one of the easiest and cheapest things to cook. Once you learn the building blocks of cooking pasta and sauces like pesto, basic tomato sauce, and cream sauces, the possibilities are endless. Just one batch of lasagna will give you a few meals.


It’s the most important meal of the day, and it’s excellent for dinner, too. All it takes is a few bucks worth of ingredients and about the same time it takes to reheat a frozen pizza. If you think pastries are difficult and time consuming, scones will prove you wrong. Instead of grabbing a stale granola bar, make your own with real nuts, seeds and fruits. And, we haven’t even gotten into all the things you can make with eggs.

Soups and Salads

Lift the seat cushions off your couch, comb through all your pockets and look under the floor mat in your car. For just pocket change, you can make various soups, bean salads and even a tasty meatloaf just like your mother's. Hell, maybe even better!

Roast Chicken

Do your parents see pizza boxes on your coffee table and offer to send you frozen casseroles? Prove that you’re doing just fine — at least in terms of food. All you need is a fresh chicken and some root vegetables for a healthy dinner. A short tour of your local farmers’ market and you will quickly be inspired by the colours of the vegetables, smell of ripe fruits and sounds of meat cutters and knives hitting the chopping block. 

Global flavours

International cuisine may seem complicated, but dishes like salad rolls, pot-stickers, hummus and baklava can be made even if you don’t have a lot of cash or experience in the kitchen. 

Date night

“Wow, you can cook? That’s so lame,” said no one ever.

Whether you're an awkward nerd or the personification of total awesomeness, everyone can use extra points on a date. Here are some easy dishes you can put on the menu that will blow his/her mind away: butternut squash and apple bisque; roasted beet and shaved fennel salad; salmon steaks with braised kale; and wine-poached pears with creme Anglaise. Trust us, these all sound fancier than they are to assemble!

Beer and Wine

Beer isn’t just for flip pong and shotgunning. Be creative and classy by making a granita (fancy shaved ice) out of it. If you have white wine on hand (doesn't have to be expensive) you can make a delicious risotto with lemon, rosemary and garlic that looks classy, but costs pennies. Well, we guess pennies are passé now, so let's go with nickels.


Desserts like chocolate soufflé and lemon meringue pie may seem intimidating for beginners, but they, along with other impressive sweets will be no match for your culinary prowess once you learn a tip or two about making meringue.