Cooking On A Gamer’s Budget

Saving up for the next big game? Need to put a budget on food so you can grab a new DLC? Come check out KSI Harmony 7’s cooking ideas to do just that!

Fruitful Beginnings

The writers of the KSI News Team were issued a challenge by the Head of the Department – KSI December 77. The challenge was to tell him your 3 favorite things in life, not to include video games! One of my most favorite things is cooking. I have a Degree in Culinary Arts and enjoy dabbling in new types of cuisine. At the age of 8 I got interested in cooking out of necessity. This is the age I made Thanksgiving Dinner by myself for the first time, and I have been hooked ever since!

I do know however that as gamers, we often have much more pertinent things to budget for! In this article, I am going to share some ideas with you that can help you in your everyday life and extend your gaming budget!

Tips And Tricks

The Rub

When baking a whole Chicken, make a spice rub of your own creation using varying amounts of Salt/Pepper/Paprika/ and Garlic powder. You can an add a tad bit if brown sugar for a touch of sweetness, or a smidge of Cayenne for a bit of flare! Get creative and make the spice mix specifically tailored to your own tastes.

The Preparation

Prepare a whole raw chicken by removing the gizzards from the cavity. Next, rub softened butter all over and sprinkle your spice rub all over the bird. Finally, rub it in, it’s called a spice rub for a reason! Rub it up!

Tip Alert: Slide your finger under the skin and rub butter and spices all under skin. Be sure to carefully distribute throughout it thought as you don’t want a mouthful of just spice rub. Stuff the cavity with aromatics, (things that add an essence of flavor to the meat), such as lemon, garlic, fresh thyme, or other hearty herbs.

Cooking The Bird

Be sure to preheat your oven to 375 degrees. To bake a whole 3-5lb chicken, you should cook it for 45 minutes to an hour and a half in large baking dish. You will reach a golden brown on the outside and the inside will be nice and juicy with no pink/red juices flowing. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute, and it gives you an overall moister chicken.

Spatchcock That Chicken

The term spatchcock refers to removing the spine of a chicken and laying it flat on a baking sheet. This is so the chicken evenly browns all the way around, and the seasoning is evenly layered over the outside of the chicken. This method will work with the majority of birds. It may increasingly become more difficult as you get into smaller birds like cornish hens! (Cook times will vary depending on the size of the bird.)

Cheap Treats

It’s always important to have your staple recipes! One of the most important recipes you can have is a good, versatile sauce. I am going to share with you a treat from my significant other, his Famous Red sauce! You can use this sauce on anything from Spaghetti to Lasagna. It is not only cheap, it’s simple. If you remove the meat you can add it over a delicious Chicken Parmesan!

Lucas’ Famous Red Sauce

  • 1 (4 ounce) Can tomato paste
  • 1(8 ounce) Can of diced tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic, diced (minimum! The more the better)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning.
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce
  • 1/2 Medium onion
  • 1/2 cup water

For Meat Mixture

  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Medium onion
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

  1. For the Soy Sauce mixture: In a medium saucepan add garlic and half the onion with the soy sauce and seasonings. (Salt and Italian seasoning.) Cook on low heat 10 minutes to meld the flavors.
  2. For meat mixture: Brown meat and other half of onion together in a separate large frying pan.
  3. For Soy mixture: Once the flavors have melded, add pepper to the garlic/soy sauce mixture. Add the cans of tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup of water, stir, then let simmer for at least 30 minutes on Medium-Low heat until sauce thickened.
  4. After the meat is cooked and the sauce has simmered, combine ingredients into the large pan that you used to cook the Ground Beef . Don’t strain the meat, mix well, and then serve!


Affordable Substitutions

When making certain recipes, sometimes you may be out of specific ingredients. You can make easy substitutions that will save your night or day in a pinch!


Buttermilk is a very useful tool in cooking and baking. Many people don’t use Buttermilk as a staple ingredient in their home, (though it is a very affordable and versatile ingredient!), because it is not something they are comfortable with using. Buttermilk is used in pastries to add a more tender texture. It’s great to soak chicken thighs or tenders in before coating and baking or frying. It can be combined with dry ranch mix and mayo for an easy ranch dressing recipe.

An easy substitute when you don’t have buttermilk is to use regular everyday milk. Mix 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, then let sit for 5 minutes before use. The acid in the vinegar will cause the solids in the milk to curdle, creating a similar taste and texture to buttermilk.

Quick Fixes

The Salt Is Real

Another helpful hint is knowing how to fix a recipe if you fudge it up a bit. If you add too much salt to your soup, drop in a chunk of peeled potato and continue cooking for 5 minutes. The salt will absorb in your potato and save your dish. Simply fish out and discard the potato once the 5 minutes is up!

Too Much Spice

When your dish turns out a bit spicier than intended add a bit of sweetness, whether it be sugar or sugar substitute. This helps to cut the heat. Another good way to counteract the spice is a bit of dairy! Drop a dollop of sour cream, yogurt, or heavy cream in your soup or sauces to tame down the heat. The same effect holds true with drinking a glass of milk. The dairy stops the heat from lingering in your mouth for a long time and adds a bit of cooling to your meal.

Sugar Overload

On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you have something that is too sweet the best ways to balance the sweetness is by adding something spicy and/or some acidic. This can be things like a dry wine, lemon juice, or vinegar. For instance, if you are making salsa but you add a bit to much sugar to cut the acid from tomato, you can add a squeeze of lime to balance the acidic/sweet balance. Another option is adding a half of a jalapeno to balance the sweet with a bit of heat! Caliente!

Food For Thought

Next time you are cooking dinner, don’t be afraid to add a little pizzazz to your food. Pep up your dishes with various herbs and spices. Finish your dish with a dash of lemon, some fresh herbs, or a dab of butter to round out the flavors! Oftentimes the herbs and spices that liven up your dishes are adding little to no calories/carbs, and are heavy hitters in the flavor department.

Remember that shortcuts in cooking are ok and can often be helpful too. Be sure when you skimp on time you don’t skimp on flavor! Hopefully this has provided you with some useful, simple tips to give you a foot forward next time you step into the kitchen. Maybe it can also help you pinch a few pennies to stay on track with your budget for the next big game on your list!

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