Not everyone out there has a kitchen they can use: some people live outdoors, some have rooms in hotels, boarding houses, or private homes that don’t allow them to cook, and some people are just New Yorkers.
How do you eat under those circumstances if it’s unrealistic to expect to eat at restaurants all the time? It’s doable; like all workarounds, it’s not tremendously easy, but it’s well within the possible.
But first, you need some stuff. In the Vancouver area, I recommend Value Village, which tends to be a bit cheaper than the Salvation Army, and St. Vincent de Paul’s is cheapest of all.
Plate, cereal bowl, knife, fork, spoon, mug, and drinking glass are your starter kit. When you can, add a big, long-handled stirring spoon and some of these:
- a blender or food processor. Noisy buggers, so don’t use them late at night if you’ve got neighbors, but they can whip up a soup, a sauce, a milkshake, or a healthy and cheap dip like hummus in seconds. What good is sauce if you’ve got no noodles, you ask? Read on…
- electric kettle. This is truly Canada’s greatest contribution to the modern world, is it not? If you’ve got an electric kettle you can do ramen, tea, coffee (not just instant either!), rice, instant potatos or soup, all kinds of noodles (the very thin ones only, though: leave them to soak. Rice or bean thread noodles are best), and even eggs.
- a cooler. The styrofoam ones are dirt cheap, and they last forever or until you sit on them at least. You need to source some ice for this, though; you’ll be adding ice every day at least. Use clean ice in your cooler; it really matters.
- some plastic food containers. Not too many, as lots of decent foods come in perfectly reusable containers as well.
- popcorn popper. Maybe it’s a frill, but it’s probably also five bucks and will make you friends, guaranteed.
- microwave. Test it before you take it home, because more than half of them are useless clunkers. While you’re in the store, check the cookbook section for old Seventies microwave cookbooks.
- a big, heatproof bowl like Pyrex for soaking your noodles, Chinatown dried shrimp or veggies, etc in. You can use a pot instead if you’ve got one. Fish the things out with a fork or get a strainer (much easier!).
That’s enough to get you started. With this you can make rice noodles soaked in the bowl with sauce made in the blender, soft-boiled eggs, ramen, popcorn, instant soups and noodles, coffee, tea, and smoothies. It’s not a smorgasbord, but it’s a start.