Cooking for one

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



TheFritschKitchen August 9, 2012

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!
Lindsay223 August 9, 2012
I prefer bigger meals for breakfast and lunch and something light and easy when easting alone for "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.
Greenstuff August 5, 2012
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.
ATG117 August 4, 2012
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.
ATG117 August 4, 2012
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.
elle1456 August 4, 2012
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.
Greenstuff August 1, 2012
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.
healthierkitchen August 9, 2012
give Joe's book a try! I have even upscaled some of his recipes.
Greenstuff July 31, 2012
Wow, thanks mainecook61. I'd been wondering if I should get the Judith Jones book, and you got me at "duck."
mainecook61 July 31, 2012
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.
Greenstuff July 31, 2012
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!
LucyS August 1, 2012
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.
LucyS July 31, 2012
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.
Greenstuff July 29, 2012
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.
SMSF July 31, 2012
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 : )
sexyLAMBCHOPx July 29, 2012
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!
boulangere July 31, 2012
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.
jsdunbar July 28, 2012
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.

Voted the Best Reply!

SKK July 26, 2012
First of all, Boulangere's blog is the best. On the top of her home page a quote says "I can't imagine a piece of writing more honest than a recipe" And that says it all.

I live alone and my strategy is to try out new recipes using great ingredients. Agree with Pierino about having a great pantry. In mine I have things I preserve and can and dehydrate, along with beans of all kinds and my canned pasta sauce and wonderful pastas. In my freezer I have chicken broth and vegetable broth I have made, along with tomato paste I make. Also frozen fruits.

The basis of my strategy is I love to shop for food, prep it, cook it and eat it. If I didn't I would have take-out menus from great restaurants.

And I always have at least one dinner party in my home per week, even if it is inviting only one person.
boulangere July 28, 2012
You are so kind, SKK!
Dona July 26, 2012
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.
Abby A. July 27, 2012
Sounds lovely. I tend to add a nice slice of tomato to this especially this time of year.
Kristen W. July 26, 2012
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.
Benny July 26, 2012
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.
Greenstuff July 26, 2012
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?
JanetFL July 26, 2012
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.
Benny July 26, 2012
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 :)
pierino July 26, 2012
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.
boulangere July 26, 2012
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.
boulangere July 26, 2012
Sounds lovely, JanetFL!
boulangere July 26, 2012
I write a blog around the concept: The Solitary Cook
Abby A. July 26, 2012
Love your blog!
boulangere July 26, 2012
Thank you, Abby A!
pierino July 26, 2012
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.
HalfPint July 26, 2012
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.
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