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Cooking for one

I'll be on my own quite a bit this fall. What are your strategies for cooking and eating alone?

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

asked about 2 years ago
35 answers 1908 views
Baci1
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added about 2 years ago

Make freeze&bake meals, portion into individual servings. Food staples like marinara or bolognese sauce, soups & stews (like gumbo, beef stew, chicken stew, etc), meatloaf, lasagna, meatballs. Plan out your dinners, so that you can pull these out of the freeze and have them ready to be heated for meals that evening or the next day.

When my husband is on business trips, I eat watching tv in the living room or in bed (I know, I know, bad habit and potential mess/disaster). Eating with my own thoughts (or no thoughts) without distractions is heavenly and the only good thing about eating alone.

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added about 2 years ago

Perhaps I'm wierd--- okay, I am wierd--- but I rarerly freeze individual portions of anything. My sister will take one of my recipes and live off it for a week. I just like to start from scratch each time with leftovers going to the neighbors. The key is a good pantry. For me a prime ingredient is olive oil packed tuna which can go into a fast pasta or a white bean salad or pan bagnat. I just noticed a forgotten tin of clams in there. There's another pasta on the horizon. Enchilada sauce is good to have on hand because it's simple and easy, along with some tortillas to turn into a steaming hot casserole in maybe half an hour.

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 2 years ago

I write a blog around the concept: The Solitary Cook http://wp.me/27pPl

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added about 2 years ago

Love your blog!

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 2 years ago

Thank you, Abby A!

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added about 2 years ago

Thanks, all! I can't think of the last time I froze a meal, so I'm going to mull that one over. Increasing my pantry to include more especially tempting options is right up my alley, and just the shopping part will be fun.

I don't know why I didn't already have your blog bookmarked, boulangere! Even when I wasn't eating on my own.

One thing I'm considering is shifting my meal focus to noon and having a smaller meal in the evening. Anyone have any experience with that?

Cumberland_pass_atv_trip_-_july_20__2013_019
added about 2 years ago

Greenstuff, I do have experience with this. When my husband is away, I tend to eat a filling late lunch (out or at home) and then have something light in the evening.....usually with a good "girl" movie.

Food52
added about 2 years ago

I like to eat heavy in the morning. It really gets me going. If I eat heavy for lunch or dinner, I'm done for the rest of the day. So, I prefer to eat a hearty breakfast and then snack small the rest of the day. There are exceptions of course, when we are entertaining, for example. But in those instances, I don't plan to be very productive for the rest of the day anyway :)

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added about 2 years ago

Greenstuff, lunch is a sacred time to me no matter whether I'm fixing it at home or going out to a local place. I bring something to read and the cell phone is not even remotely close. Of course I have to get into someplaces before they close to switch to dinner service but lunch should be taken relaxed and leisurely.

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 2 years ago

I often wind up doing exactly that for sake of photographing food for a blog post. Natural light shows it best, so lunch and dinner are frequently reversed. I've honestly grown to like it. Since dinner tends to be salad, my repertoire has expanded wonderfully.

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 2 years ago

Sounds lovely, JanetFL!

Food52
added about 2 years ago

I have to second the idea of living off of the same meal until its gone. I make things in large batches and it will often turn into 3 meals for both my wife and me. Dinner, lunch and then dinner again for two. I'm really only cooking about three..... MAYBE four times a week.

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added about 2 years ago

Yeah, I also eat what I make over several days until it's gone. My husband is a somewhat picky eater, so when I'm on my own for dinner I almost always make something I like that he won't eat. I love cooking for my family, but I also view my solitary meals as a treat b/c I can widen my options beyond what I'll usually consider cooking. I usually plan for leftovers so I can have it for a quick lunch over the next 2-3 days.

Stringio
added about 2 years ago

Ok I live alone, so nearly all my meals are for one. I cook with an eye to what is good leftover. For a quick dinner I make avocado toast. Make toast, spread with a mix of mayo and mustard. Mash half an avocado with a squirt of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Spread on toast. I love this.

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added about 2 years ago

Sounds lovely. I tend to add a nice slice of tomato to this especially this time of year.

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added about 2 years ago

My simple solo meals are a pizza made on a tortilla & cooked in the toaster oven - ingredients depend on what I have on hand, nachos with sliced mushroom, peppers, cooked meat - ground or shredded - slices of cherry tomatoes or spots of salsa, & cheese, cooked on parchment paper. Little fuss, no mess, just as much as I want.

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added about 2 years ago

I usally cook for one or two and never sacrifice what I'm craving. I'e learned how to scale down recipes and rely on my taste buds to achieve the taste. I buy in small quanties unless it can be a solid leftover meal (which I do, b/c I love leftovers), cook proteins to make different recipes, and I'm not a fan of freezing (turns me off) Enjoy!

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 2 years ago

We cook very much alike, sLx. I do use the freezer, but I don't make large quantities of everything. I freeze at best one or two meals of anything (except for pulled pork, marinara sauce, bison chili - you know, dishes best made in bulk) because other wise my freezer fills up, and I either forget what's there, or I have to eat it up so fast that I'm tired of the frequency with which dinners roll back around.

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added about 2 years ago

I've been really interested to see that there are multiple camps--cook sort of big and eat until gone or store, cook small, cook quickly, cook simply. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do myself, but you've all given me a lot to chew on.

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added about 2 years ago

Greenstuff, in response to your "multiple camps" comment -- why not try each approach a couple of times and see what you like?
I'm in the "cook big and eat until gone" camp. Lasagne, braised lamb shanks, stews, batches of pasta sauce (this I divide up and keep in the freezer). Just because I usually cook for one doesn't mean I'm not going to eat the way I want to : )

Img_1965
added about 2 years ago

For home alone meals I often go with salads, soup (if you have a canned variety you like and don't feel like cooking, otherwise frozen in portions), or things that will be leftovers for lunch the next day. It's hard to pare your favorite recipes down for one person, but you can do two servings pretty easily and just save the rest in the fridge. I'm big on one-bowl meals, like pasta mix-ins. One of my favorite home-alone meals is just a steamed artichoke with butter. Easy cleanup and nice, compact veggie ready-made for one person. I also make latke-like big potato pancakes all for me.

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added about 2 years ago

Hey, LucyS! If you look at my FOOD52 profile, you'll see that my answer to "What do you cook when you eat alone?" is artichokes!

Img_1965
added about 2 years ago

They're the best! What do you eat them with? I keep looking for healthier alternatives and coming right back to butter. I've been living alone all summer and I've had at least one choke a week.

Imag0055
added about 2 years ago

Judith Jones, the great cookbook editor, has a lovely section of recipes for cooking for one (check out the duck series!) in her memoir The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food.

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added about 2 years ago

Wow, thanks mainecook61. I'd been wondering if I should get the Judith Jones book, and you got me at "duck."

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added about 2 years ago

Oh wait. I already have The Tenth Muse, and I've read it twice! What I'd been on the fence about is her book devoted to cooking for one. But I think I'll get it anyway.

I already have Joe Yonan's Serve Yourself, which my daughter had in college and found to be too involved for most of her needs. But I'm going to take a look at it.

Dsc_0048b
added about 2 years ago

give Joe's book a try! I have even upscaled some of his recipes.

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added about 2 years ago

Hi!
It helps to make half recipes. That way you don't end up with an overwhelming amount of food. Another thing that helps is focusing on specific, small-batch amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, and alternating them--the smaller volume also helps safeguard against having to deal with too much at once. Canning can be a wonderful activity to do alone, and provides a great start on gifts. Another thing that helps is sometimes just enjoying fruits and vegetables in their natural state--which saves work.

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added about 2 years ago

I think Joe Yonan has a cookbook about coking for one. I believe it also got good reviews. I've never looked through it, but it might be worth a look.

I have to admit that I find cooking for one to be a challenge because I often find myself tempted not to cook at all. I'm more of a light grazer throughout the day, but eggs are always a staple of my cooking for one repertoire, as are salads and roasted vegetables. Sometimes I'll buy a piece of fish on my way home. My mom, who is an empty nester and a meat eater unlike me, will freeze individual servings of chicken breasts and chop meat for times when she's in the mood for either of those. She also freezes individual portions of salmon, and I have to admit that it always tastes just great. I am not a big freezer, however, like some others, I see.

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added about 2 years ago

Also, tofu--if you don't mind it--is an easy protein to keep on hand, saute or bake, and use as a main or as an addition to salads.

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added about 2 years ago

One of the reasons I posed this question is that I could imagine myself drifting into a grazing schedule, with the only really meals being omelets that I'd make at random times through the day.

I now have three cookbooks, all pretty different from each other:

Judith Jones: The Pleasures of Cooking for One
Joe Yonan: Serve Yourself
Mark and Lisa Erickson: Cooking for One

I was kind of surprised that Yonan proposed making corn tortillas--how would I use them all up? But then I thought it would be a fun project on my own, adding a little activity rather than just getting meals over quickly.

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added about 2 years ago

I prefer bigger meals for breakfast and lunch and something light and easy when easting alone for dinner......my "go to" is a poached egg with a salad in a nice vinegary, mustardy dressing...maybe with some asparagus and pancetta, fresh sweet corn and a few fingerling potatoes sliced thin, whatever is seasonal or already on hand. lemon pasta with an ever changing combo of fresh grilled veggies and basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, pesto, grilled chicken, garlic, etc. tossed in with a little white wine and olive oil.

French_river
added about 2 years ago

Nachos!

Not ones that are completely smothered in cheese. Rather, with beans (black beans are my favorite) cooked with onion and poblano pepper, as the main attraction. A layer of multigrain tortilla chips, a healthy serving of beans, a small sprinkle of cheese and topped off with a fried egg? AMAZING for breakfast, lunch or dinner!