July 2011





Living alone brings a lot of challenges including learning to cooking for yourself when you’ve never done it before.  When it comes to kitchen utensils, are you more familiar with a bottle opener than you are with a potato masher?  You probably know that relying on take away for every meal is not doing your wallet or your waistline any favours but the kitchen has been uncharted territory….up until now.

Don’t worry – cooking for one can be a lot easier and quicker than you might think.

As a start, get the basic essentials to keep on hand like some good olive oil, herbs and spices and useful utensils.  Find some easy recipes that don’t look too intimidating.

Places like Taste (http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/cooking+for+1+or+2)  and  Recipe Finder (http://recipefinder.ninemsn.com.au/recipes/serves-one/) have lots of recipes to get you thinking.

Get the simple stuff mastered first and then try experimenting as you go. Wherever possible try to get fresh, local produce which leaves you feeling good about what you’re consuming.

For really quick and easy meals have a go at some tasty stir fries, healthy omelettes and chunky salads.  You can pretty much throw in what you like and it can be an easy way of getting your daily serve of vegies.It’s all about trial and error too, so if something doesn’t work out just give it another shot next time.

Here’s a recipe that might come in handy.  It’s baked in foil in the oven so there is hardly any mess to clean up, either.

1 chicken breast
10 baby carrots chopped into pieces
1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup zucchini chopped into pieces
Spray oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Hoi Sin or Sweet Chilli Sauce

Spray a large piece of foil with your oil spray.  Place the chicken in the centre and pile the vegetables around it.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with your favourite sauce.  Wrap it up tightly like an envelope and place on baking tray in an oven at 180C for about 45 minutes.

Remember that cooking for yourself means you can make whatever you want, whenever you want.  And if you plan it right you can usually get lunch sorted for tomorrow too.  It might seem easier to grab take away but your body and bank balance will thank you for your cooking efforts.

Besides, everyone admires a man who can cook!


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Now that you are on your own you’ll find that managing your money might be hard.  You go to work everyday and get paid every week but there might not be anything left over at the end of the week    You need to work out a way to budget so that you can keep your bills paid, cupboards full and still have enough left over to enjoy.

Budgeting is not as hard as it sounds.  It’s just a matter of being a little bit organised when it comes to your money.  You can still have your beer and drink it too –just be sure it’s not the rent money you’re drinking.

The easiest way to create your budget is to just write a list of the things that need to be paid for which will usually be:

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Car costs i.e. loan payments, registration, insurance, repairs, fuel
  • Services i.e. mobile phone, home phone, internet, electricity/gas
  • Food
  • Entertainment
  • Extras (clothing, medical etc)

If you’ve just moved out and have no idea how much to allow, ask your single mates what they spend each week on food, electricity and other bills. It will give you a place to start.

Work out what you income is per week and deduct the cost of those bills to find out what money you have left over.  That’s the part that most people forget to do.  If you know how much room you have to move, you’ll be part way towards being in control of your budget.

From there get yourself set up on internet banking.  Just go into your local bank and ask them to set your account up with internet banking.    Set up two bank accounts.  Into on account goes money to cover your weekly expenses. Into the other, put money to cover those extra things like yearly payments, repairs and unexpected extras.You can set up weekly payments for things like rent, loans and set weekly costs.  For anything that is paid monthly or yearly set up an automated payment from your second account where the money can remain until needed.

Each pay day take out the amount you need for food, fuel and entertainment and use the cash system.  That way you know exactly what you have left to get you through the week at any given time.  You also reduce bank fees by not using atm’s all the time and you won’t spend money you shouldn’t be touching.

Use these tips as a guideline and you will have soon have your new budget under control.

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