Today’s cool tip is about the OFW kitchen and what you can do (as OFWs, of course) to make the most out of it. If you’re an OFW with your own or shared living space, then you should definitely consider using the good ol’ kitchen to prepare yourself some food. Doing so will give you the convenience of eating at your own home and potentially help you save some money. Plus, learning how to a) manage a kitchen and b) cook food are important life skills that you can surely use somewhere down the road. And so, without further delay, here are our tips for you:
- Stock up your kitchen in a smart way. Buy your groceries smartly. We recommend buying things in bulk (as this is usually cheaper) and then portioning them out for your cooking throughout the week. For example, you can buy a large pack of ground pork and then set aside a portion for making meat balls, a portion for making lumpia, and a portion for cooking giniling—freeze up all these portions and use as needed. Refrain from buying too many perishables like vegetables and fruit; only buy what you can consume, you don’t want to waste food. Buy “essentials” like cooking oil, garlic, onion, rice, salt, and pepper, among others. These ingredients are used in many dishes, and so will be most helpful for you in your kitchen. Also, you may want to consider buying ready-to-eat food in cases of emergency or when you are in a rush and don’t have the time to cook. These include things like canned goods and instant noodles. Some supermarkets also offer food that only require a microwave to cook. However, always remember to think healthy as eating too much instant food may also be bad for your well-being. Finally, if you are looking for Filipino ingredients, try visiting an Asian store—they usually have stocks of our goods. Also, some local supermarkets may have aisles dedicated to Asian products, and so there is a chance you can find Filipino ingredients in these stores.
- Plan your cooking. Know your recipes in advance. Know which ingredients you are going to need and determine whether you need to buy some more groceries or not. If you need to, make your cooking preparations ahead of time, e.g., do your marinades early. To plan your cooking, it may be a good idea to write down a menu of dishes you are going to cook for the entire week, to save you the time of always thinking about what to cook next. If you are really too busy to cook everyday though, perhaps our next cool tip below (tip # 3) will work for you.
- Too busy? Cook in batches. If you have a tight schedule that does not allow you to spend enough time cooking daily, then perhaps you can try cooking in batches. During the weekend, what you can do is to cook yourself food for the entire week and then to store these cooked food in separate containers in the fridge. That way, when you need some food at some point in the week, you can easily just take one container, heat it up, and then eat to your heart’s content. However, make sure you don’t contaminate your stored food by practicing proper storage and handling. Don’t be sloppy! Don’t leave all your containers open and exposed to the air, as this will speed up bacterial contamination and food spoiling.
- Be creative. Cooking is an art, and as with any form of art, you have to be creative. There are many ways to be creative in the kitchen, but for this cool tip we’re going to focus on one thing specifically: making creative use of your leftovers. Rather than just throwing them all into the garbage bin and wasting precious food, why don’t you transform your leftovers into new dishes? Say you made tinola one day and have some left over in the fridge right now. One option for you would be to take the chicken, bread it, and then fry it to have fried chicken. New dish from an old ulam! Learning how to “revive” your leftovers is a good skill to have, and one that would help you save even more in the long run.
- Ask help when needed. Unsure on how to cook dish A? How about dish B? Can I use this ingredient to substitute for pepper? How do I use this certain brand of stove? Where can I buy this ingredient? The list of kitchen-related questions goes on. If you do have any questions on kitchen use and cooking, don’t be afraid to ask the people around you! You may have a roommate who is knowledgeable on these things, or perhaps a fellow OFW who you know is willing to help you out. You can even ask your loved ones back home by using online communication tools. The Internet, if you have access to it, is a good resource as well. On a different note, let’s say you have limited time to cook and that you live in a shared space—why don’t you consider making arrangements with your roommates to cook in rotation? For instance, he or she can cook for both of you on one day, and you have to cook for him/her the next day. This way, you divide the labor and effort required aaaand still get to eat freshly cooked food.
Even though this was a quick list of tips, we hope you learned a lot on how to make your OFW kitchen work. Living alone abroad, you may be required to cook food for yourself in order to survive. With these tips, we hope we’ve helped prepare yu in some way to go forth on your cooking journey. Who knows—you may be a famous chef or future restaurant owner someday?
Have any more related tips to share to our fellow Ka-Tsong? Just comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! See you all next time!