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Old 02-16-2008, 07:55 PM   #1
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ISO help/tips "cooking for one"

if u only cook for one person it is really hard, without a lot of leftovers.

would like to know who does cook for only one. and any tips would be just wonderful.it is easier to do with prepared food than from scratch i have found. do like fresh .



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Old 02-16-2008, 08:20 PM   #2
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I used to cook for one. I set myself a goal of spending no more than an hour per weeknight in the kitchen.

First, spend some weekend time making big batches of stuff you can freeze in one meal portions for the weeknights. Chili, pasta sauce, stews, soups, lasagna.

Any meats you buy, freeze in one serving portions.

For the nights you are not defrosting a pre-cooked meal, plan quick cooking dinners.

Saute a chicken breast and make quesadillas.

Grill a steak, chop, burger, chiken piecs, or fish with a quick side and some frozen veggies in the microwave.

Buy a ready-made salad and add a grilled chicken breast.

Have some frozen soup and a BLT or other sandwich.

Get invited to someone's home for dinner.

Eat out.

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 02-16-2008, 08:44 PM   #3
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I don't know if places allow it anymore but I used to get a take-out salad bar. I'd fill it with everything but the lettuce. I'd buy my own lettuce and then have great salads for a few days. It was much cheaper than buying a can of kidney beans, those little ears of corn, cheese, radishes, etc., etc.

And one hour is about right. Just scale it down. You can, however, if you like left-overs, just make enough for that night AND the next night. I often did that. Or grill up another chicken breast for a totally different meal the next night but the cooking part of that is at least done.

If you have a pack of mushrooms just be sure to have several recipes ready to use up the rest before they go bad.

Recipes are so wide open it's just hard to post them. Look at ANY recipe here - most can be scaled back. I love Italian. When I'm in the mood and want something fast I saute some garlic in olive oil, add a can of tomatoes that I squished to make smaller (I drain the juice the whole tomatoes are in and use the juice that comes out of them though). Heat that for about 30 minutes or so to dry out. Towards the end add some fresh basil chiffonade. Plate it and top with some Parmesan cheese. If you want some protein just have a chicken breast ready and cut in strips and place on top. Go easy on the pasta to make it more balanced and serve it with a nice, big salad drizzled with some balsamic and EVOO, s&P - or finish with a little bowl of strawberries drizzled with reduced balsamic - or just an orange - or 1/2 a cantelope.

I always found cooking for one easier with fresh food. Just have some recipes in your mind for the left-overs. For example, that salad mentioned above - have a couple strips of chicken saved from your pasta, some of the lettuce saved from the salad, and make a panino. Drizzle the inside of your bread with basil oil, put the strips on, salad, press.

I know it's really easy to get "stuck". Whenever you find yourself with some ingredients just post them and you'll have more "opinions" than you care to have!

"Count yourself...you ain't so many" - quote from Buck's Daddy
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Old 02-16-2008, 09:10 PM   #4
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On occasions when I have to cook for one, I find it easier with fresh foods mostly because when I buy the packaged stuff I've had too much leftover, but with fresh foods I just prepare the amount I will eat. Although sometimes when there are leftovers I would eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
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Old 02-16-2008, 10:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by babetoo View Post
if u only cook for one person it is really hard, without a lot of leftovers.

would like to know who does cook for only one. and any tips would be just wonderful.it is easier to do with prepared food than from scratch i have found. do like fresh .

I cook for one. When I buy meat I ziplock some and freeze. the new steam in the bag frozen veggies are great!! They are single serving. If you use fresh veggies, it's easy to cook small amounts. Use smaller pans!! believe it or not it helps, especially when cooking by the seat of the pants, you cook less because the pans are fuller. Cut back on number of items for a meal. If you have veggies and meat, you don't have to have the salad... If you use canned veggies etc.. get the small cans..

Frozen foods can be your friend. There are some wonderful side dishes out there already made. You might get two meals out them, but that isn't bad..
A good deli in a grocery store can save a lot of cooking/overcooking i.e. you want some 3 bean salad. Instead of making the 3 cans worth of beans, buy a small bowl.. etc.

Cook for friends!!
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Old 02-17-2008, 12:37 AM   #6
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Check out this link from the food network:
Single-Serving Recipes and Meals for One : Quick and Easy : Food Network
It is all about meals for one as well as some good tips.
"There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings." http://aidancallum.blogspot.com/
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Old 02-17-2008, 06:41 AM   #7
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I found some divided plates with 3 sections and snap-on lids at the 99 cent store. They can go from the freezer to the microwave.

I make my own tv dinners from fresh foods that I cook before freezing. That way I can take bigger portions, divide them among the plates after cooking, and can have a balanced meal within minutes. I've found with meats I include a little juice/gravy to keep them moist.
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Old 02-17-2008, 07:02 AM   #8
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A few years ago when I was single (again!!!), I would take one day a week (it was Sunday for me) and cook anywhere from 3-5 hours. Then I would portion control them all and freeze them for later in the week or weeks. Now that we have access to cheap food vacuuming systems, the food tastes just as great as the day you cooked it.

"Culture is what your butcher would have if he were a surgeon."
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Old 02-17-2008, 08:31 AM   #9
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I cook for one, but I like leftovers. I always "plate" a dinner I'm making for eating within a couple days for lunch or dinner again. Since I'm obviously making something I like, I don't mind eating it again right away. And I do a lot of freezing and portioning (oops, not in that order) like the others have stated.
Give us this day our daily bacon.
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Old 02-17-2008, 08:36 AM   #10
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I have to laugh at this line because in the half-dozen years I was single, I was also incredibly .... broke. I lived in an efficiency apartment outside of DC with a cat. I'd incurred a lot of medical expenses, so was in debt. Back in those days you couldn't buy groceries with a credit card, but you could buy things at the drug store, which had convenience foods. So once a week I'd buy a frozen pizza at the drug store. Then once a week I'd buy a head of cabbage and a pound of chicken livers. Kitty and I lived on the livers, I could do a lot with the head of cabbage. Once a month or so I'd buy a chicken and throw it in the crock pot (I'd always have a bunch of spices and herbs on hand) and I'd have chicken for a week or more. Kitty just ate what came along.

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