Sometimes the thought of cooking an entire meal for just one person can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. After all, wouldn’t it be faster and easier to order takeout, or pop a frozen dinner into the microwave?
Well, there are two things that make cooking for one worthwhile; taste and expense. Even a simple meal you cook for yourself will probably taste better and fresher than a frozen dinner. And cooking your own meals is almost always cheaper than ordering takeout or dining at your favorite eatery.
Besides, there are several things you can do to make cooking for one a lot less trouble than you might think.
Stick with One-Pot Meals
There will be times when cooking a main dish, a couple of side dishes and a dessert for one will seem worthwhile, even like a special treat. But most of the time, when cooking for just yourself, you’ll appreciate a meal that’s more convenient. And meals that can be prepared all in one pot or pan are certainly that.
Start a collection of one-pot meal recipes. These recipes can include stews, casseroles and hearty soups. Chili makes for a great one-pot meal, and so does spaghetti. Try to choose recipes that include as many of the food groups as possible. Instead of making a dish that’s just pasta and sauce, make one that includes pasta, meat, vegetables, and possibly even beans.
Buy In Bulk to Save Money
Buying in bulk saves you money. If you have a large family, and only cook for one when the rest of the household is out for the evening, buying in bulk is probably something you’re used to. But, for those who live alone, buying in bulk can seem like a waste. Yes, you can technically save by buying a family-sized pack of chicken pieces. But you can’t possibly eat it all at once all on your own. And if most of it ends up sitting in your refrigerator until you have to throw it away, how much are you really saving.
Well, that’s what you have a freezer for.
When you buy a family-sized package of chicken or other meat, don’t just throw the whole thing into the freezer. Do that and, when you’re ready to cook, you’ll have to thaw out the entire thing. Instead, separate the meat before freezing. For example, place each piece of chicken in its own small freezer bag. When you’re ready to cook, you’ll only have to thaw out one or two pieces of chicken for your meal.
Learn to Throw Together Easy Meals
You’re just cooking for yourself tonight, and you don’t really have a recipe in mind. But you do have a chicken breast in the freezer, and there are some vegetables in the fridge that you’d like to use before you go bad.
So why not make yourself a pocket meal?
Cooking a pocket meal is an easy way to throw together a delicious meal fast. And it’s easy to do.
- Spread out a piece of aluminum foil. (You can also use parchment paper.)
- Toss a serving or two of meat on one half of the foil, near the center. (Chicken and fish work great with this kind of dish.)
- Chop up some vegetables and place them on top of and around the meat. (Choose vegetables that will cook as fast as the meat, if not faster.)
- Sprinkle on some kind of liquid, like lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar or wine.
- Add salt, pepper, herbs and spices.
- Fold the foil into a pocket, making sure it’s completely sealed on all sides of the meat and vegetables.
- Toss the pocket into the oven and bake.
This is a fun way to use up some of your spare ingredients, and lets you experiment with new ingredient combinations. Plus there isn’t a lot of clean up involved. Just open the pocket, pour your meal onto a plate, and throw away the foil.
Make Your Own Frozen Dinners
Even if you really enjoy cooking for one, you might not always have time to do it. Or you might be too tired to cook after a long, hectic day. In these cases, frozen dinners might seem like your only option. But no one said those frozen dinners had to come from the store store.
If you have leftovers, separate them into single-serving meals and place them into the freezer.
And what if you want to make something like lasagna, but the thought of only making enough for one person seems absurd. Well you can make a lasagna that’s as big as your heart desires, cut it into individual portions, and place them in the freezer too.
Now, even on those nights when you’re too tired to cook, you can still have a delicious, homemade meal.
Cooking for one doesn’t have to be a hassle. In fact, if you use some of these tips and tricks, you just might start to enjoy cooking for one.