Opinion: Cooking for One

I have a hard time cooking for just me. Cooking for one is difficult, especially when your not keen on leftovers like I am. Awhile back the Kitchn had a few tips on going solo. Some made sense, some didn’t. For instance they suggested buying just one fresh herb you like and using more of it instead of buying a bunch of different types. That is true, however, its not overly practical when your choices only come in large bunches like most of mine do in this area. I do get lucky from time to time and find smaller bunches, but most ends up bad before I even get to use it. So sad and such a waste of money. I’d grow my own herbs in a window box if I could – but I have a very black thumb and kill everything I touch!

So over time I’ve developed a semi-philosophy – get a food buddy if you can. In my case its my food loving boyfriend Brad. I save the good recipes/ingredients for when he’s over for dinner and make the easier to manage ones on my nights alone. But before him were relatives and/or friends that did the job too. It nice cooking for someone else and having them fawn over your recipes. And it is easier to cook for two.

Now when that’s not possible, and really it hasn’t always been possible for me, I also do a few things that make life easier.

  • I cook enough for 2 and save one meal for later in the week. Some recipes this works great with and I have less wasted food and less wasted time cooking.
  • I eat a lot of frozen veggies. Yes, I prefer fresh, I’m sure many people do. But fresh WILL go bad, frozen at least I can portion control just the bit I need and freeze the rest for later. No waste. This does mean I will freeze fresh when I do buy it in season, in small portions, of course.
  • I will use up milk, eggs, or bread if one or more are going bad and have breakfast for dinner. Something like french toast, pancakes, etc. The extras get frozen and reheated later.
  • I eat a lot of recipes that involve only using one chicken breast or one fish fillet as they come individually frozen and I don’t waste anything. And all the rest of my meats get pre-portioned into 1 person servings as well. Its easier to take out more if someone is over for dinner (or your making more to freezer for later use) than it is to break up large portions after the fact.
  • I tend to use dried herbs instead of fresh. I really like fresh but I really never get to use them all. So if I buy them and don’t get to them in time I just dry them and put them away with my stock to be used later.
  • I buy from bulk bins (thank you Whole Foods!) whenever possible. I can buy just the little amount I need instead of enough for an army.
  • I tend to buy dessert if I want it. Bakeries are great for finding already portioned items for 1 or 2 people. If I make it the extra ends up at work or I make something just for work.
  • I use my toaster oven a lot to avoid wasting energy cooking something small in a huge oven that heats up my apartment, especially in summer.
  • I also use my grill a lot for the same reason. And since I’m alone I can afford one really nice cut of steak for just me, cooked just the way I like it. Oh, and the way my kitties like it! 🙂
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