Here are some useful things I've learned as a techie bachelor living by himself. Geeks still living in their parents' basement need not apply. (And I just pissed off about half of Slashdot. ;)
Soda: Here in Detroit we call it 'pop'. So if when I say 'pop' I mean soda. Most geeks are caffeine addicts and drink soda by the gallon. Don't buy individual pops. Two-litre bottles are a good choice, especially since you can get them in the gas stations for as little as $0.89 (plus deposit). Read the ads for your favorite supermarket chain. Some of them like this one that many of you have never heard of but is big in the Midwest even put them online. Scan for sales on pop! I just picked up a few 12-packs of Diet Coke for $1.69 each.
Printer paper: Go to OfficeMax or someplace like that and get one of the inbox trays you undoubtedly have at work on your desk. Or steal it from work. I didn't tell you to do that. ;) Keep it next to your printer. Put all of those extra blank pages and aborted pages and any extra pages you have lying around in the tray, all facing one way. Flip it over. Now you have extra paper to print stuff like directions from Mapquest or phone numbers from Superpages.com on! (Also, if you can get away with it...print big stuff at work. Shhh! I didn't tell you that either! ;)
Food: Pizza and Chinese food have long been hacker staples. Eating delivery pizza and take-out Chinese every night can get expensive. Stir fry is one of those dishes that's as good as Chinese carry out (IMHO) and it's easy and cheap to make and takes <15 minutes, including prep time!
First off, invest a few dollars into a George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine. You can get one of the small units with a bun warmer for as little as $50 at your local discount chain store. Also, you need a wok or a large frying pan. The non-stick kind. And an egg turner or large wooden spoon or fork or something to stir with. A kitchen knife for the meat.
Next, stock up on stir fry vegetables. I use pre-cut frozen stir fry vegetables that you can get for as little as $1 for a 1 lb. bag. (Ewww..frozen? In a stir fry you will never be able to tell the difference. Trust me.) And rice or noodles if you prefer. These are cheap.
Meat, if you eat that sort of thing: watch the specials. I usually get chicken breast fillets or pork tenderloins.
Oil. I use a nice extra-virgin olive oil, which tends to be a bit expensive, but you can use other oils. Olive oil is healthy and doesn't leave any odd tastes on your food though.
Sauce. You can make a sauce, but I personally just pick up a bottle of Kikkoman Stir Fry Sauce or Teryaki sauce. Most supermarkets carry a nice variety of different Asian-cooking type sauces and sauce mixes. The mixes are cheap, so you might wanna consider those, especially since you can always doctor 'em up more easily than the stuff in a bottle.
Cooking it up
Plug the grilling machine in (it takes 5 mins to warm up), and start preheat your wok or pan to 350 F. Get out your meat and start cutting any extra fat off and cut the meat into cubes. By the time you finish with that, the wok should be ready to add oil...add some oil to the walk. Get out your vegetables. You need about 1/2 of a 1 lb bag per person. Throw those in the pan or wok and stir. They need to cook for 5-10 minutes. Keep stirring them every 15-30 seconds or so. Take your meat, and toss it on the grilling machine. This will take about as long as the vegetables.
When the meat is done cooking, toss it in the wok with the pan, add your sauce, any additional seasonings you want, and stir. Let it cook about another minute or two. Serve and enjoy.
If you want RICE or NOODLES, follow the directions on the package for making those. You'll typically want to start your rice or noodles before you start anything else.
General Cleaning: To avoid having to spend your Saturday or Sunday cleaning your place, start doing this. Take 5 minutes every day and do something to clean your place. Pick up clutter, dust off a table, vaccum a room etc. Use a stopwatch. Live by the stopwatch. You'd be surprised at how much stuff you can get done in 5 minutes. Then, when the weekend does roll around,
you won't have to spend all day cleaning, just maybe half an hour or so straightening up.
One bathroom tip: Completely remove the toilet seat from your toilet now and then...you'd be VERY SURPRISED at how much disgusting germs and slime accumulate where the hinges attach to the bowl. Ew. :)
Okay, this has gotten WAYYY to long... more in a later JE!