Do you ever wake up thinking:Today’s the day! Today’s the day I’m going to cook for myself! And then 5pm rolls around and you order a pizza?

I feel you. While my single-parent-sister is raising and feeding my insanely adorable nephew, I’m over here without children, like “Hello? Postmates? Can you bring me breakfast, lunch, and dinner? I don’t care where it’s from just DO IT!”

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I don’t know about you, but as an adult I still find it hard to take care of myself sometimes. I know what I’m supposed to do but sometimes doing it is the hard part. Just because there’s a giant salad on my Instagram account doesn’t mean I don’t struggle to make and eat said salad like the rest of mankind. Especially being a chef. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook for myself after cooking for everyone else. Last week I had cookies for dinner. Literally, just cookies. DON’T YOU JUDGE ME!

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I’m getting closer and closer to the age of having children. Soon, I’ll need to break out the cooking hacks from my toolbox to survive. You may wonder how the hell someone can take care of themselves and feed their children a healthy meal. You may also wonder how they can do it without spending their child’s entire college fund and without living in the kitchen for the rest of their life. It may very well seem impossible, but I promise you, it’s not.

Whether cooking for your family or just trying to streamline things in the kitchen, here are three tips to help save money and keep you from building your tombstone next to the oven.

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MAKE A HUGE BATCH OF EVERYTHING

One and done is the way to go. If you’re already going to make a dish that involves you cutting 1 carrot, cut 2 or 3 of them and double or triple it. It will take you 5 more seconds to cut that other carrot and in turn create enough food to save you from having to make a whole new meal the following day. Most things can also be frozen (i.e. chili, alfredo sauce, pasta sauce, desserts, etc.) and it never hurts to have a backup plan in your freezer for days you would rather not cook. Also, the bigger the batches, the cheaper the meal. Double win.

PICK RECIPES WITH SIMILAR FLAVOR PROFILES & INGREDIENTS

If you’re making tacos and they involve diced tomatoes, onions, black beans, chili powder, etc., find a recipe with similar ingredients. This way, again, you can double up on the chopping of some of the items to accommodate both dishes and the spices that are sprawled out on your counter top for one dish will already be there for you to use in another dish. If you make something with a Mexican flavor profile along side a dish with an Asian profile, you are going to have shit everywhere, far too much cleanup, and 500 different ingredients in your refrigerator that you really only use half of (I only needed ONE stick of celery for this recipe?! Seriously? WTF am I supposed to do with the rest of this bunch of celery?)

GET EXCITED ABOUT SAUCES

Sauces can go a loooooong way. And as mentioned above, some of them even enter the I Can Be Frozen category. Let’s say you make a cashew cheese sauce. How does this help you all week long? On Monday you mix it with pasta, on Tuesday you pour it over broccoli (or your vegetable of choice), on Wednesday you make cheesy potatoes, on Thursday you bake it into a casserole, on Friday you smother it on top of a burger, and on and on and on. Marinara is another good one – a big batch of this can be SUPER handy. Spaghetti, lasagna, red rice, ratatouille, minestrone soup, tomato soup, etc. The possibilities are endless! What if one day you have extra cashew cheese sauce AND extra marinara?? Answer: You make tomato soup and grilled cheese. DO YOU SEE WHAT I JUST DID THERE?! You’re welcome.

Let’s recap shall we? The moral of this story is to plan ahead. Plan to make large batches of everything, plan to freeze things, plan to cook things with similar ingredients, and plan to add sauces to your cooking arsenal. Plan plan plan. Like the apocalypse is coming and cashew cheese is the only means of survival.