Yesterday, I was lucky enough to do a guest post for Jennifer on She’s a Fit Chick. I wanted to share it here today, just in case you missed it!
Having lived alone for the last four years, I’ve figured out a thing or two about cooking for one. I love to cook, but most recipes make so much food that I’m stuck eating leftovers. Now, I like leftovers, but not for 4 days in a row. And I have a thing about wasting food—I feel totally guilty throwing things out and get so disappointed when things like produce go bad before I can use them. I had to find a way to make cooking work for my household, rather than being stuck with endless leftovers or wasted, spoiled food.
After many years of trial and error, here are my best discoveries!
Mini Wine Bottles
Buy mini wine bottles for cooking. I enjoy drinking red wine, but love to cook with white. I can’t justify purchasing a whole bottle so I can use a half cup in a recipe. These minis are the perfect solution!
Individual Ramekins and Baking Dishes
This is a worthwhile investment for the single cook! I got these on clearance at TJ Maxx for $3 and $4 each. They are Le Creuset so they make me feel so fancy! You can make pared-down portions of lasagna, enchiladas, and casseroles in these little guys. Love them!
Day Old Bread
Buy whole loaves of day old bread (it’s less expensive!), slice, and freeze. This is such an easy one. When you get the loaf home, slice it crosswise and then into individual portions. As needed, just take out a slice or 2 for individual garlic bread, a panini, French bread pizza, etc.
Lettuce in the Clam Pack
It costs a bit more, but it’s worth it because the packaging is designed to keep the lettuce fresh, so it extends the life of your produce. I figure I’m not saving any money buying the bagged salad if I end up throwing it out because it’s spoiled. This way, you can keep it all week for side salads for dinner, or for lunches. Confession: I have transferred bagged salad into a clam pack. I mean, if it’s just the package that’s keeping it fresh, what’s the difference, right? ;)
Egg or Egg White Substitute
If you are living alone, egg substitutes are your friend! It’s nearly impossible to divide an egg in half, so when you’re diving a recipe with an egg, this allows you to get just what you want. I love these for mini meatloaves, meatballs, or smaller batches of pancakes.
A one pound package of ground turkey is always much more than I need. I always wait for it to go on sale, and it gets me at least 4 meals. Just score the meat into 4 portions. Then, you can freeze them and use them as needed or make any of these with the individual portions:
o Turkey Burger
Add ¼ tsp. poultry seasoning or a tsp. salsa to seasonàthis makes the meat so moist!
o Mini Meatloaves
Find a recipe you like and scale it back—then bake them in a muffin tin for an individual portion.
o Tomato Meat Sauce
Brown the meat with a little onion and garlic and add to your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce.
o Mini Meatballs
Just like the meatloaves, pare down your favorite recipe and whip up some meatballs for your pasta!
There are about a gazillion and a half things to do with veggies. At the beginning of the week, roast a bunch and use them for meals throughout the week. A few ideas:
o Veggie Quesadillas
Add cheese, grill or sear in a skillet to melt the cheese, and chow!
o Have them as a side with a burger, baked chicken, or fish
o Make a Roasted Veggie Salad! I eat this at least once a week!
o Pizza toppers—Roasted squash and broccoli are a couple of my favs!
o On their own!
Rice and Pasta
Rice and pasta are great go-to’s because it’s so easy to make an individual portion.
o For rice, just use a 2 to 1 ratio of liquid to rice for each portion. Half a cup of dry rice usually does the trick for me. Or, you can make a big batch of rice and freeze individual portions. (Thank Martha Stewart for that tip!)
o Get a pasta measure-er so you only make what you need. This has been key for me! Before this, I was the queen of cooking too much pasta. Now, I can always get it just right! ;)
Chicken, Pork chops
o Individually wrap in plastic wrap and freeze (be sure to date them!)
o Defrost them in the fridge. That way, if you need to refreeze them, it’s ok.
o Buy frozen shrimp in a bag and take out just what you need
o Make a batch of your favorite dough, portion it out to make individual pizzas, and freeze the portions you don’t need for later.
o Let it do double duty! Use it one night for pasta and then as the sauce on your pizza another night.
Make your food work for you and use it in multiple ways. If you’re creative, nothing goes to waste! Use a can of pumpkin to mix into yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, then add some to your cornbread recipe, or make individual portions of Pumpkin Enchiladas! Same goes for black beans—they work in quesadillas, salads, and soups. Divvy ‘em up and enjoy! Don’t be afraid to be creative and try something new. It might come out kinda funky, but you might be pleasantly surprised, too!
Hope you got at least an idea or two here for your own kitchen! So many of these tips are perfect for couples, too!
Stay tuned for another Party of One recipe tonight!