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Spartan's Chow Hall

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How to be (not) Shit @ Cooking

An ongoing series to spread knowledge relating to food preparation 


About Me: 

Most know me as either Spartan96 or A_UselessReptile, world of tanks player and general chat whore. I'm a line cook and server for a regionally renowned restaurant.

I have worked fast food, short order, and finally sit down establishments in the short 3 years since I have become old enough to join the work force.


I'll be periodically updating this when I learn something new from work or someone else has something to contribute, think of it like the ongoing WOT article series but with cooking tips and tricks. 

But first lets go over things I think are absolutely necessary for all you guys and gals who live in their first apartment or in a small Uni. dormitory. 

- Rice cooker - For obvious reasons , economical (low power and heat draw, aren't typically banned by dorm statutes) 

- Electric Skillet/Frying Pan - For a pretty good multiple use appliance that can function as a frying pan, skillet, or even steamer. 

- Tongs - Glorious tongs function as an extension of your hand without prospect of fucking burning the shit out of your hand. Also make for good defense against hungry buggers who steal bits of food before dinner time.

- Oven Bags - A great substitute for a grill or a gas burner.

All of these are completely your choice to get but I find get the most use with the least amount of money or time invested. For all you experienced folks of the middle age I'm sure you already have these handy.

Personal Favorite Dish: London Broil w/ Roasted Potatoes and Caesar salad

An impromptu guide on preparing just about any cut of beef but more specifically those that are a little heavier on muscle and by default typically cheaper (also applies to sirloins of varying quality) 

*Disclaimer I'm certainly no chef , and I don't mind changing what is here to reflect an improvement after all everyone can always learn more* 

Prep Time including marinade: 1-3 hours (if you skip marination only 1 hour)

Preparing your cut is quite simply , use either a meat tenderizing powder like Adolph's or simply regular salt while tenderizing the meat evenly on both sides (A fork can be used in lieu of a hammer)

Personalize your marinade anyway you feel , I normally use the following 

- Garlic salt/powder

- Black Pepper / Salt 

- Worcestershire Sauce

- Olive oil

- Lemon juice 

- Cavender's Greek seasoning (some random mixed spice combo) 

Apply a generous amount of Worcestershire sauce to the meat on both sides, and apply the other spices to eye. 

Put cuts, with all its juices and seasonings in a pan to marinade for at least an hour (up to 3 is what I do if time allows) Leave in fridge to rest.

Cooking :  



Using your preferred method (either grilling , frying in a pan or using an oven bag) cook to a warm red center and a pink edge to achieve medium rare (the best way and only way to cook a steak ;)

I shall update this thread later this evening with my totally not stolen methods on how to cook red potatoes and prep a nice Caesar salad.

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Stir fry with either chicken or your preferred meat is always good.

Steamed sticky rice with carrots, onions, and peppers typically is enough for me. Though some like zucchini (a bit more expensive than other veggies) 

Best part is you can cook every thing save for the rice on an electric skillet which are like 30 bucks a pop (great investment imo)


Alternatives to that would be learning how to prep various hot and cold pastas. 

Basil and pesto pasta is pretty damn good, I don't have a recipe off memory but I'd be happy to scrounge that recipe from family. 

if spaghetti gets boring try subbing it for a baked ziti . 



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7 hours ago, Tuco22 said:

Im pretty good at ramen noodles. Pm me for tips sometime.

>mfw I've burnt ramen noodles before


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1 minute ago, Spartan96 said:

how do you burn things that you boil, its as simple as don't let water run out :look:



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I have been cooking for my family for the past 8 years, and want to translate my mad skills from a family setting where I have no limit on the amount of money I spend, to a university setting where I am on a tight budget, but still want good food. How2do dat?

Also Spartan, do you have any cheffy skillz or mad advice to give? (Knife skills, cooking techniques, etc.)

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Don't think about the money, get an idea of what you want to eat/cook to begin with. Just a general idea, don't go into specific cuts of proteins. Run around the store for inspiration, you'll want to build your shopping list around what is cheap and filling. Rice, potatoes and cheap cuts of meat will be your staple.

Always check flyers for discounts, then check for additional discounts at the store. Always buy in bulk, learn to cut your own meat. It is always cheaper to buy a whole slab of meat or bird than it is to buy pre-cut portions, you can portion out what you want to use and put everything into the freezer for long term storage. Buying cuts with bones also allow you to make soup and stock, you can cook the meat from a bird then chuck the carcass into a pot. Waste not want not. Look at these glorious pork loin and their price/weight ratio:


Veggies for garnish I prefer to buy fresh biweekly to monthly, depending on how fast they spoil. Focus on produce that don't go bad easily like carrots, tomatoes, potatoes. Forget all the organic stuff, they can cost way more than their normal variants for no realistic benefits. You're trying to stay alive and make tasty food, not minmax your vitamins or be the healthiest college kid around (though you'd be a lot healthier than people living on instant ramen).

Herbs such as rosemary or parsley I buy along with veggies. For spices I buy big boxes of salt, whole peppercorns to grind down, cumin and coriander seeds and the lot. Emphasis on cheap and versatility, you're only going to buy spices once and use them until you run out, don't go decorate your spice rack with things you rarely use.

Cooking with diversity is key to not growing bored of the same food you'll be cooking and eating for a long foreseeable future. Potatoes are versatile, I cycle through roasting frying mashing over the month to compliment my meal. Fried potatoes with pork chops, roasted potatoes with stuffed pork loin, mashed potatoes over roast pork loin, etc... It's the same ingredients pretty much every time, but different methods of cooking will produce different flavors.

Things I never buy are cereal, milk, pre-made sauces and can foods. Juices I occasionally buy to satisfy my sweet tooth and bread for filler, but only if they are on massive discounts. You might call me mad for ignoring dairy products and other items people consider "essential", but I literally do not give a flying fuck about my bones when I go hungry. Milk doesn't give me protein or fat to burn for energy, solid foods do, and I already get my calcium from bone soup stocks.

Never, ever, buy frozen pizza or instant ramen or the likes. They are a waste of money and don't fill you up long enough.




I currently live off a monthly food budget of $60 CAD and still eat better than people who spend $200 on Kraft dinner.

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Knife skills are diffu cult to describe without a video but a token bit of advice is have at least one good chefs knife for multiple uses as well as a whet stone to sharpen it.

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On 7/19/2016 at 10:46 AM, Haswell said:

Forget all the organic stuff, they can cost way more than their normal variants for no realistic benefits.

Milk is probably the only exception to that (though you said you don't but/drink it). At least here the organic milk isn't much more than the cost of normal milk. However they have to use a different preserving method for the organic milk (I'm not sure if it is just a much stronger pasteurization or another method) so instead of lasting for a week or two it can last for a month to a month and a half.

Also couscous is fantastic because it is extremely easy to cook. Boil some water, take the water off the heat and dump in the couscous, come back in five minutes and eat. It's good with a bit of butter, salt, or some cajun spice.

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