Tag Archives: cooking for one
While the traditional American Thanksgiving revolves around a giant bird, there’s no reason not to just eat whatever makes you happy (within reason, of course). Indian food is a popular option among non-traditionalists, but you can even sit down to the perfect grilled cheese with steamed vegetables. Braise a few root vegetables, and eat an egg. Make a pot of soup, a pumpkin custard, or bake an apple. I think we even had Chinese food one year when I was growing up.
If you want a traditional meal, but aren’t hosting or visiting elsewhere, I’d suggest a roasted cornish hen with baked sweet potato (or turnips? cauliflower?), roasted brussels sprouts or green beans, and either a baked apple or individual pumpkin custard. Gravy is optional, and a good piece of bread or some stuffing can fill in any empty corners.
Whatever your plate holds, pause and eat consciously– whether in joy because you grew enough food to (hopefully) survive the winter, in hope that the following year will be better, with great love for family and friends, or for any other reason. Maybe you are thankful your dog finally stopped eating your shoes, or your closest friend found a needed job, your country is not at war, or your grandchildren actually called. Breath, think, and enjoy!
Myth: You can’t make soup for one person.
Busted! Many soups work very well in single portions, the exception being some very long-cooking stews where it is simply impractical (and very energy inefficient!) to cook one bowl’s worth for 4 fours. Try making a quick vegetable soup, lentil or bean soup, chicken soup, or miso soup. The trick to keeping your portion under control is fitting your ingredients into a 2-cup measuring cup or bowl, then adding just enough broth/water/tomato sauce to fill in the cracks. Don’t overflow it, and you’ll have just one bowl. Some ingredients do shrink, like onions and greens, or expand more, like rice and lentils, as they cook than other, but the 2 cup rule tends to work fairly well as long as you have a mixture of ingredients.
1/4 c small red lentils
1/2 c chopped onions
1/2 c chopped carrots
3/4 c chopped kale
Then, of course, you add your herbs/spices and liquids.
Need to cook it quickly? Save your leftover cooked vegetables and grains to add to broth along with an egg or canned beans. Herbs and spices are optional, but delicious. 10 minutes = homemade soup, just for you.
Cheese is a decadent delight. It is, however, rather high in calories and saturated fat so many people prefer to save it for an occasional treat. Here are two tips for the solo cook to avoid wasting cheese:
1) Buy custom amounts. Ask for two slices of cheddar at the deli, or 1/8 lb from your cheesemonger.
2) Freeze hard grating cheeses like parmesan or pecorino romano in small containers (I’ve seen 1 to 2 oz condiment cups with lids in kitchen supply stores) or cut into chunks and place in freezer bags. Pull out a small container or chunk the day before and they’ll be ready before you’ve boiled the pasta.
Visit Trading Up Downtown today to enter a chance to win a copy. You do have to tell us what you favorite meal for one is, though.
Thus far, the most popular dishes include:
- Egg dishes (sandwiches, omelettes)
- Stir-fry or fried rice
I was a little surprised by the oatmeal! Oddly enough, I think of cold cereal for supper but not cooked cereal. Great empty pantry option, though.
A rice cooker is (surprise!) an excellent tool for cooking rice. It’s also easily used to cook other whole grains, steam vegetables and/or proteins, and assemble a one pot meal. While I find it difficult to cook just one or two servings of rice in a full-sized saucepan, a small rice cooker makes it a relaxing process. Ask yourself a few questions to determine whether you might find it useful.
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Can you walk into the kitchen, pull out a few items, and pull together a meal? A number of friends have commented at various points about how easily I cook without recipes. Partly, I can do so because I always stock some basic pantry items. Beyond simply having the carrots and rice in the pantry, you need the confidence to pull it together into a meal. Cooking without a recipe is a valuable skill to develop, as your pantry may not always match your recipes.
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More than most daily activities, eating has been traditionally constructed as a Norman Rockwell-style social occasion. Whether it’s Mom, Dad, two kids, and a dog under the table or girlfriends out a trendy new restaurant, the images we see most often are of groups of people gathered around food together. Cooking utensils, cookbooks, and even food packaging are designed for families. Sadly, the exceptions focused on solo eaters tend to be the less healthy options, like frozen dinners. What can make stepping away from the frozen dinner easy?
One simple key is to find your eating style. You may already know it, since single people have the luxury of indulging their preferences as often as they like. Whether you do or not, acknowledging it in your meal planning is vital to your success in making yourself satisfying meals. Typical elements to think about:
- Do you like monotony?
- Will you eat leftovers?
- What type of meals do you like: hearty, light, mixed dishes, separate sides, etc?
- What do you feel deprived without? (Glass of wine, smoothie, steak, potatoes, etc?)
- What are your favorites and what do you abhor?
- Are you a grazer, do you prefer three square meals a day, or do you only have time to down a shake or energy bar for breakfast or lunch?
Once you’ve found your style, think about how to use it for inspiration and take pleasure in it. What can you do to create meals that meet your eating style? Share your ideas below.