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Old 05-27-2008, 06:14 PM   #1
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Cooking for one - thoughts or ideas?

I hope this is where this goes...if not, please move it!


I recently moved into my own apartment (loooong story). Anyway, I'd rather cook for myself, if possible, rather than eating frozen meals and whatnot.

I've started making stuff that I can freeze or buying packages of meat and freezing those into 1-2 serving packages. But, I'm always looking for new ideas.

Thoughts?? Ideas??

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Old 05-27-2008, 06:22 PM   #2
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Depending on your work schedule, your crock-pot could be your best friend. Make meals in it and freeze portions.

I experimented last June and made almost ALL our evening meals for the month using the crock-pot. Started out as a night or two and then became a challenge, largely because it's so hot here and our house isn't air-conditioned. Even had the crock-pot on a small table in the living room so as not to heat up the kitchen in any manner. Ya do whatcha gotta do.

It's just the two of us here, so cooking smaller meals is ever on my mind. I'm still trying to adjust from cooking for Buck, 5 children and myself. Still struggling, even though it's been years since any of the children have lived at home.
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Old 05-27-2008, 06:35 PM   #3
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I've been vertually alone for some time and still cook as if I was pleasing many. That's why I still have to 2 refridge/freezers. I can't help it. I'm Italian.
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Old 05-27-2008, 07:04 PM   #4
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I try to just make things that I can scale down to fit me + a meal or two. But, I'm always looking for new recipes and ideas.
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Old 05-27-2008, 07:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quicksilver View Post
I've been vertually alone for some time and still cook as if I was pleasing many. That's why I still have to 2 refridge/freezers. I can't help it. I'm Italian.
OK, I'm not Italian, but I have a healthy appetite anyway
Why do you think I'm cooking six brats right now

You got it right Jett.. freeze, proportion, cook for many realizing that you are the many
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Old 05-28-2008, 08:56 AM   #6
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When I was single, and living by myself, I did a lot of soups/stews in the winter, and just reheated the leftovers. In summer, I did a lot of burgers, grilled chicken, etc., in my Foreman grill. The chicken I could use for fajitas, quesadillas. Sometimes I would make wrap sandwiches. I love a good Reuben, but getting enough thinly sliced corned beef for more than one or two sandwiches can be expensive.

If you like stir-fry, you can cook it quickly without heating the kitchen up to much, as the entire cook-time is only about 5 minutes or so. You can also do a lot of good saute dishes, like Steak Diane, Cajun BBQ'ed Shrimp, Chicken Marsala, etc. Pasta dishes that are completed in a saute pan, like Fettucini Alfredo, are also quick and easy, especially if you cook the whole box of pasta to al dente, drain and cool it, the store it in the fridge.

You also want to learn how to use leftovers. Don't be afraid to buy and cook a good-sized roast. Sure, eat off it for a couple of days. BUT, use the rest for things like Beef Quesdillas, Beef Tamales, Hash, quickie BBQ beef sandwiches, etc. Same thing can be said for Roast Pork, Chicken, or Turkey. Heck, if you don't want to use the meat right-then-and-there, you can package it up, with some of the pan juices, and freeze it for later.
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:04 AM   #7
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You can cook a large batch of rice or pasta, portion it off into those Zip-loc bags, and put them in the freezer. Likewise small containers of marinara sauce, etc. They're quick to thaw in the microwave and will come out just fine. There are only two of us, not big eaters, so I do this all the time. A supermarket rotisserie chicken is a good choice, we can get a couple of meals out of it--soup, salad, etc.
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:05 AM   #8
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I find that when I cook for just me (which is rarely) I make too much, but not enough too much to freeze, so I end up eating it all.
I'm used to cooking for 5 or more, and the only time I would be cooking for myself is Sunday nights when DH is taking his nap before starting his week of overnights, and I want something the kids will definately not eat.
That used to be fish, but they are coming around, so I don't end up with dinner for one much at all. Good thing!
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jett View Post
I hope this is where this goes...if not, please move it!


I recently moved into my own apartment (loooong story). Anyway, I'd rather cook for myself, if possible, rather than eating frozen meals and whatnot.

I've started making stuff that I can freeze or buying packages of meat and freezing those into 1-2 serving packages. But, I'm always looking for new ideas.

Thoughts?? Ideas??
Welcome, Jett. Congrats on moving into your own apt. I usually cook for one, as well. Rather than scale a recipe or the size down, I cook the whole amount, i.e. a roast, whole chicken, meatballs, etc. The next day, or so, I turn it into another dish, i.e. pasta, salad or sandwiches. Would rather cook once, than twice - saves time. Personally, I would rather finish up the cooked food, rather than freeze & reheat. I prefer chicken breasts, so I buy a 10 lb bag, & take out what I need. Same with shrimp - buy a big bag & take out what I need. When I have time, I make a big batch of perogies or homemade pasta, freeze uncooked, then use amounts as needed.

During the summer, I don't usually eat big meals. Mostly fresh salad & fruit. I make up a big pasta salad & keep it in a Dutch Oven in the fridge. It will keep for a day or so. I snack on yogurt (add fresh fruit) - as it's just the right size.
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Old 05-28-2008, 12:37 PM   #10
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I've been cooking for one for a number of years now, many of them frustrated because all the cookbooks and recipes were for 6-8 servings and did not scale down that well. A year or so ago I dumped all such cookbooks that just gathered dust and started creating my own cookbook in a small looseleaf notebook and the help of the MasterCook software and I'm now a well-fed happy cook.

The main thing to remember is not to treat leftovers as "leftovers". They are new meals for another day. It's portioned out into individual servings and frozen for later unless I know I will eat some in the next day or two. Some things are portioned into divided microwave container plates so it can be reheated in the microwave like a TV dinner.

Yes, the crockpot is a daily friend. It's a good way to cook whole chickens without any hassle. And also for beans and soups.
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:47 AM   #11
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I've started keeping a bag of mixed frozen vegetables in the freezer. It's not ideal, but a good alternative to fresh vegetables for those evenings I'm cooking quick dinner for myself. I can just portion out the amount I want, and put the rest back in the freezer. I like pan frying them quickly in a wok, and melting a bit of feta over them at the end, for added flavor. I like eating them with pan fried potatoes and grilled chicken.

I also like adding the frozen vegetables to a Spanish tortilla (as an easy, one-pan dinner - few dishes to clean up!), or occasionally a tomato sauce.

I've started to keep a head of iceberg lettuce in the fridge as well. I'm not a huge fan of iceberg lettuce in salads, but it keeps for easily up to two weeks in the fridge, and is good to add to fajita's, pita breads and sandwiches. Last night, the boyfriend and I made a quick side dish salad of iceberg lettuce, cucumber, grilled chicken & a mustard-dill dressing, which was surprisingly delicious & summer-y.

Also, if I get a bag of mixed salad greens (which I don't use up for dinner by myself), I put the mixed salad on sandwiches the next day, to make sure I use up the bag. I've found different kinds of mixed salad greens are very nice on BLT sandwiches, or on a fresh cheese & tomato sandwich.
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Old 05-30-2008, 11:08 AM   #12
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I have found that romaine keeps very well in the fridge--better than the salad in a bag. I like to add some chopped celery, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, and some sunflower seeds.
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Old 06-01-2008, 11:16 AM   #13
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Hi Jett
I think the hardest part of cooking for one is getting used to scaling down recipes and using smaller pots. You're on the right track with freezing your meats in smaller serving size packages, I even divide my ground beef into 1/2 lb. packs.
Some things just can't be scaled down conveniently, like if you would have to use 1/2 can of something. So I suggest you stock up on small freezer containers (maybe 2 cup size) to freeze individual portions of leftovers.
Good Luck!
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Old 11-29-2008, 09:46 AM   #14
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I am single too, and hated cooking for one. I could not do it - I just did not know how to reduce proportions and still get the taste I was looking for. That all changed when I finally broke down and bought a food saver. Its one of those handy-dandy things where you use special plastic bags, and it sucks out the air from the bag before sealing it. I now cook over the weekend (I have 3-day weekends!) with 3 or 4 servings per dish. I eat a fresh portion immediately after cooking and then use the food saver to seal and freeze the remaining in individual portions. I then eat the frozen stuff during the week. So I am still eating "frozen meals", but they are meals that I prepared, as opposed to buying a pre-packaged frozen meal from the grocery store!
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Old 11-29-2008, 11:54 AM   #15
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Consider pre-cooking ground beef and freezing it until you are in the mode for a hamburger helper or similar casserole that calls for ground beef, which you have already cooked. Makes things move along faster and easier, especially after a hard day.

Make pasta ahead of time the same way, and also for rice, and then store in individual serving pouches. Reheat quickly in Microwave or boiling water. Brown rice is a good candidate for this since it takes a long time to cook otherwise.
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Old 11-29-2008, 12:09 PM   #16
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Leftovers can really turn out to be your friend. I cook many recipes in their normal quantities and then divide into individual portions. On those busy days it is nice to just be able to pull something out of the freezer, reheat, and add a salad or vegetable as a side dish.

I agree that the crockpot is a very useful tool. One of my favorite things to cook is a ham in the crockpot. Stud a ham with whole cloves. Put it in the crockpot on low. Don't add any liquid, it will make it's own. When you get home dinner is done and you can use the ham for other meals or sandwiches, etc.

One of my favorite ham meals is Cheesy Potatoes. Peel and slice 4-5 russet potatoes. Slice 1 onion into thin rings. Cut 3-4 slices of ham into 1/2 inch cubes. Spray a 9x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Layer half the potatoes and half the onions in dish. Sprinkle with onion powder (or salt) and pepper. Dot with a tablespoon of butter cut up. Layer half the cut up ham. Cover with a layer of cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup). Repeat layers. Cover with a lid or foil. Bake for 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:08 PM   #17
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I'm going to agree and say make lots of stuff all at once. One of my favorite meals (which takes FOREVER to make, but no more time for a triple recipe) is Mojo Chicken Burritos (I'm not allowed to post urls til I have 20 posts. Google "Mikes Table" and it'll be the first result) except I just use rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. It'll take me all of a sunday afternoon to do everything including roasting all the chiles, but it's worth it. Then I assemble all of the ingredients, wrap them in foil, and freeze 4 to a gallon freezer bag. 1 hour at 400 in the oven yields a warm, toasty, tasty burrito, I just toss it in still wrapped in foil. Can't beat $40 for 25 delicious, fairly healthy meals!
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Old 12-02-2008, 10:01 AM   #18
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I have my place to myself (+pets) once again and it is really nice, While I enjoy cooking for other people I also get a certain satisfaction in cooking for myself. For one thing there is no need to worry about other peoples preferences.. previously living with vegetarians, fussy eaters and the like was sort of limiting. Now I can make things how I want them. I can also try things out without worrying about having to serve up a failure.

I dont have too much trouble with quantities but
I find my cooking is a bit simpler when I cook for myself and I don't make so much in the way of side dishes/desserts etc
leftovers usually serve as lunches to bring to work or meals for later in the week. Any ambitious cooking usually happens on weekends because after work once i deal with the dogs and any other things that need to get done cooking time is limited.... leftovers and frozen dishes come in really handy during the week.

While I usually keep a couple jars of spaghetti sauce and a few frozen dinners on hand for those times when cooking is just not an option and I dont have anything else on hand I find it difficult to eat too much processed food or take out.... a cheesesteak is great on occasion but you cant live on them
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