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Old 05-13-2014, 01:11 PM   #1
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Cooking For One

Cooking just for myself is fraught (I always wanted to use that word.) with adjustments.

Most dishes I make have to have enough ingredients that it ends up being a big amount of food.

This has to be: eaten, reheated, frozen as well as fit into the fridge/freezer in the proper space without taking up too much room.

How do you handle this ongoing juggling act without food going bad in the fridge before it can be eaten or frozen.

Then there is dealing with the dish that just didn't turn out right. Sometimes you can fix it, but sometimes it's just wasting more ingredients. Can you just toss it (thus making room for more) or do you try to force it down so as to not waste food?

Aunt Bea, Addie and all who cook for one (or two) - what do you do to handle these situations?
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:16 PM   #2
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What kinds of dishes do you typically make? I'm thinking you may need to simplify your menus - just cook enough for 2-4 servings and eat them over a few days.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:27 PM   #3
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I started cooking (and learning to cook) on a regular basis when my divorce process started. I found myself cooking for one (and sometimes 2) for almost 10 years. Then SO came along and I am now cooking for two.

Most recipes are written for more than two. You have to pare them down before you start. Low budget meals that include beans, pasta or are casseroles, soups and stews are always larger quantities. If you have freezer space, you can embrace the larger quantities to build a reserve of frozen meals ready to reheat and eat.

When I buy meats, it's often in larger quantities and the first thing I do is repackage it to meal-sized portions and freeze them.

When I make a mistake for dinner I don't hesitate to toss it if it can't be saved. Sometimes you get lucky and can save it.

When I make a larger quantity and have leftovers, I try to wrap and freeze it right away if I don't want it later in that week. If I don't, it will often get left to spoil.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:30 PM   #4
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Some things I will eat until gone B,L&D, like chili. Some things I will make and eat as is, like an Italian tomato sauce over pasta as one meal, then morph the sauce into one or two other dishes. Our deep freezer serves us well.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:55 PM   #5
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I don't have the luxury of extra freezer space. I buy 10# of chicken legs at a time, cut them up and package the thighs separately, so I have thighs and a couple of packs of drumsticks. The drumsticks usually get used for teriyaki with crushed pineapple, and the thighs get used either for individual dinners or to make chicken broth for other dishes, saving the meat for other uses.

I also get 5# chub of hamburger meat each month. I cut it up into 4 pound chunks and 4 patties. This is easily used up during the month making taco meat mixture, meatoaf and probably another taco meat mixture, which is easily convirted into chili, chili mac or spaghetti sauce.

I buy a 4# bag of talapia. I like to make it with garlic butter. This lasts a couple or three months.

Another thing I buy is turkey neck pieces which I package separately. These are good for beans, stock or soup.

This should give you an idea of how much is already in my freezer at any one time.

If I make a meal, it is usually 4 servings: 1 to eat nor, 1 to eat later, and 2 to freeze.

Lasagna, meatloaf, mac & chese (with chili). These are pretty much on my regular menu.

I try to eat more seafood, so oysters, talapie, scallops are pretty much monthly or semi-monthly dishes.

I love the frozen seafood. I can grab a handful at a time to make a one dish meal.

Garlic butter is my usual cooking medium for quick seafood dishes.
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Old 05-13-2014, 02:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhizara View Post
This has to be: eaten, reheated, frozen as well as fit into the fridge/freezer in the proper space without taking up too much room.

How do you handle this ongoing juggling act without food going bad in the fridge before it can be eaten or frozen.

Then there is dealing with the dish that just didn't turn out right. Sometimes you can fix it, but sometimes it's just wasting more ingredients. Can you just toss it (thus making room for more) or do you try to force it down so as to not waste food?
I cook for one or two, depending. But there's still leftovers most of the time partly because most recipes are for more than two and partly because of my 'roots'---- cooking for family/friends and anyone else who's hungry and in the neighborhood.

I bought an erasable board that fits on the front of my fridge and when I put a leftover something in I TRY to remember to write that down on the board. Same for freezer.

I've also bought many different sizes of glass jars (and a few plastic containers) so the L.O. will have a container tailor made for the size of the leftover----- to limit taking up too much space. There are some really small Kerr canning jars made for boutique jams etc.

My problem, which may not be yours, is I have a really difficult time bending over to survey the contents of the bottom shelves in my fridge, so despite all my efforts some things get shoved to the back. But if I know they're there, thanks to the erase board, I will spend more effort looking for it.

If I didn't have so many different condiments in the door shelves that would be a good place to keep them. (Note to self: Re-think that!)

I have to say (humbly ) that I don't have too many cooking failures. But if I do I'd toss it if I can't jury-rig into something that's good enough to eat. I won't force down 'bad tasting food'. Life is too short!
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Old 05-13-2014, 02:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhizara View Post
Cooking just for myself is fraught (I always wanted to use that word.) with adjustments.

Most dishes I make have to have enough ingredients that it ends up being a big amount of food.

This has to be: eaten, reheated, frozen as well as fit into the fridge/freezer in the proper space without taking up too much room.

How do you handle this ongoing juggling act without food going bad in the fridge before it can be eaten or frozen.

Then there is dealing with the dish that just didn't turn out right. Sometimes you can fix it, but sometimes it's just wasting more ingredients. Can you just toss it (thus making room for more) or do you try to force it down so as to not waste food?

Aunt Bea, Addie and all who cook for one (or two) - what do you do to handle these situations?
I have switched making breakfast as my main meal when dining alone. This has greatly reduced the amount of leftovers. When I plan to eat my main meal in the evening (2/3 x every 10 days), I try to plan for the leftovers (soup, stirfry, etc.). I have several single friends who are always willing to come for a meal, so I invite a friend over to join the DH and me, or if the DH is not in residence, to join me. No one leaves my house without a care package. The same is true when the DH and I spend time in the same location. Today he is getting sent home with leftover soup.

I chop up celery and freeze it rather than let it "go bad." I juice carrots, apples, cucumbers, beets if I don't think I'll finish them. I freeze lime and lemon juice. I juice fresh citrus and drink that instead of frozen or other juice. I dehydrate mushrooms, apples, and pineapple if I think they will spoil before I use them. I handle meat much the same way as you do. I probably eat far more veggies at one sitting then most folks on DC. I'll use a whole head of romaine or leaf lettuce or a bunch of spinach for a salad for myself. When I make broccoli, I eat the whole head with a 3-4 oz. portion of meat or fish (pre-cooked weight). I rarely cook from recipes--I usually cook combining what I have on hand and just of wing it from there. I don't have things that don't turn out very often (I made one dish I didn't like--and that was ironically when I did follow a recipe--a nutmeg chicken dish--not my cup of tea), but other than that, I can't think of anything...and, on fridge clean out day, the girls get treats.
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Old 05-13-2014, 02:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhizara View Post
I don't have the luxury of extra freezer space. I buy 10# of chicken legs at a time, cut them up and package the thighs separately, so I have thighs and a couple of packs of drumsticks. The drumsticks usually get used for teriyaki with crushed pineapple, and the thighs get used either for individual dinners or to make chicken broth for other dishes, saving the meat for other uses.

I also get 5# chub of hamburger meat each month. I cut it up into 4 pound chunks and 4 patties. This is easily used up during the month making taco meat mixture, meatoaf and probably another taco meat mixture, which is easily convirted into chili, chili mac or spaghetti sauce.

I buy a 4# bag of talapia. I like to make it with garlic butter. This lasts a couple or three months.

Another thing I buy is turkey neck pieces which I package separately. These are good for beans, stock or soup.

This should give you an idea of how much is already in my freezer at any one time.

If I make a meal, it is usually 4 servings: 1 to eat nor, 1 to eat later, and 2 to freeze.

Lasagna, meatloaf, mac & chese (with chili). These are pretty much on my regular menu.

I try to eat more seafood, so oysters, talapie, scallops are pretty much monthly or semi-monthly dishes.

I love the frozen seafood. I can grab a handful at a time to make a one dish meal.

Garlic butter is my usual cooking medium for quick seafood dishes.
Well, that's all the meats. Do you eat anything else, like green salads or deli salads or sauteed/roasted veggies or rice, pasta, potatoes (other than lasagna)?

Lasagna, meatloaf and mac & cheese are, IMO, major, time-consuming dishes that I make infrequently. Especially now that the weather is getting warmer, I will not make them until the fall and winter.

I use the stove top and grill/grill pan much more than the oven. We have a lot of sauteed/roasted/grilled veggies, green salads, and pan-seared/pan-roasted/grilled meats, poultry and seafood. It's easy to make those in single or double portions with little or no leftovers. And I often eat leftovers for breakfast and/or lunch, so they don't hang around.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:18 PM   #9
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I throw away almost no food!

I don't have any one answer, I'm constantly learning and experimenting.

I eat what I have and not always what I would like to have. This is one of the toughest for me personally!

If I look things over and an item is beginning to fade I cook it and freeze it for later use.

I use my freezer for short term storage, sometimes only a week or two.

I have learned to reduce my recipes and concoctions to make smaller amounts.

I try to cook basic items plain and then use them in various ways instead of making a specific recipe and being locked into one item. For example I steam a package of broccoli or escarole and then use it in an omelet, as a side, in a casserole etc... over a three day period.

I buy less and I have learned that it is ok to run out of things rather than waste them.

I read threads like this hoping to find a new tip or two that I can use in my kitchen.

Your final question about an experiment gone bad, I dispose of it. I don't dare say how!
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:22 PM   #10
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I cook for two but It could easily feed four. My husband especially likes leftovers for lunch so that's a good thing and he's a joy to cook for because he always praises me. I remember well what it is to cook for one, and I found no joy in it. I hand it to anyone who eats alone and keeps their mo-jo working.
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