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Cooking for One


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#61 SobaAddict70

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 08:08 PM

As for the making, I’ve never found using fresh produce especially difficult to cook for one. Dried beans or something, yes, why would you bother for a tiny portion - for that reason I actually avoid soups, braises, curries, stews etc – hate the leftovers.


That's the primary motivation behind my meals.

My experience making chicken and dumplings earlier in 2012 was instructive. After the second night of leftovers, I began to get bored. Ultimately, I finished everything off, then resolved to never make it again unless I was living with another hobbit, elf, dwarf or Man. :wink:

#62 huiray

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 08:37 PM

Many soups and braises are usually better the next day. :smile:

#63 Shalmanese

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 03:41 AM

One thing that has helped me is to move from thinking from individual meals into a week's worth of menus. If you take the care to make your menus mesh in a coherent way, you can prepare foods more economically with less waste.

For example, sometimes, I'll make a large batch of sides/starches one day that are easy to reheat (like sauteed kale), then pair them with a different fast cooking protein (a pork chop one night, flank steak the next). Or I might make a coconut sauce and serve it with pork and rice one day and then shrimp and noodles the next.

Another thing I do is plan a set of meals around an ingredient that features it in different ways. One week, I might decide herbs look great and I'll buy a bunch of different ones. I might do Vietnamese Summer rolls one night, Thai steak salad the next, Grilled lamb with chimichurri sauce the night after and then pasta with pesto and shrimp the 4th night.

Even though I mainly cook for one, I rarely make single portion sized meals. I can generally figure out a way to make reasonable portions of dishes that get consumed in an efficient manner.
PS: I am a guy.

#64 swieton

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 10:33 AM

I've been trying to find a good solution to this problem myself and haven't settled on anything that really felt sustainable to my lazy self.

Currently I'm very interested in trying out sous vide. I've ordered a Sous Vide Magic and I'm looking forward to prepping a dozen chicken breasts at a time with different seasonings and marinades and serving with e.g. a big batch of rice. Has anyone else used this approach?

#65 Jaymes

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:30 AM

One thing that has helped me is to move from thinking from individual meals into a week's worth of menus. If you take the care to make your menus mesh in a coherent way, you can prepare foods more economically with less waste.

For example, sometimes, I'll make a large batch of sides/starches one day that are easy to reheat (like sauteed kale), then pair them with a different fast cooking protein (a pork chop one night, flank steak the next). Or I might make a coconut sauce and serve it with pork and rice one day and then shrimp and noodles the next.

Another thing I do is plan a set of meals around an ingredient that features it in different ways. One week, I might decide herbs look great and I'll buy a bunch of different ones. I might do Vietnamese Summer rolls one night, Thai steak salad the next, Grilled lamb with chimichurri sauce the night after and then pasta with pesto and shrimp the 4th night.


I do this, too. One thing that comes to mind is cold-smoked salmon - lox. I really love it. And I know I can buy a small package of it at my local market, which is enough for one serving of bagels and lox. But it's so darn expensive that it hurts me to pay the same thing for that one small package that I could pay at Sam's or Costco and get three times as much salmon. It's a conundrum for me, because, although I hate to overpay at the supermarket, that salmon doesn't keep well at all. So what I've done is to wait months and months to get my salmon "fix" until I just can't stand it anymore. Then I go to the discount club warehouse store and buy some. And spend that week eating it in various different ways.

Not a perfect solution, I know. And I probably should just go ahead and pay the premium price for the small package, because by the end of "lox week," I'm pretty-much sick of it..

But I just can't force myself to do it.

"KNOWLEDGE TENDS TO ELEVATE THE HORSES" - cdh


#66 rarerollingobject

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 07:35 PM

Re ideas, if anyone's looking for any..here's a list of meals I've cooked over the last year or so for myself. I keep a Google spreadsheet of meal ideas that take my fancy or things I've cooked and liked, so whenever I'm inspirationless, I look back here (or, more often, the Dinner thread!). Mostly low carb, because that's how I try to roll.

  • Bossam (steamed pork belly, wrapped in lettuce leaves, with kimchi)
  • Larb over lettuce
  • Grilled prawns with anchovy butter
  • Roast cauliflower with anchovies and panko
  • Cauliflower kedgeree
  • Mussels (Thai, cider and bacon, white wine and garlic)
  • Cantonese steamed fish
  • Tom kha gai soup
  • Eggplant and pork crackling thai salad
  • Scallop tartare
  • Clams in XO sauce with ginger gai lan
  • Blue eye with clams and broad beans
  • Grilled Persian lamb backstrap on roast vegetables
  • Lamb kebabs, salad and yoghurt
  • Confit trout, fennel salad
  • Wagyu wrapped around asparagus and enoki
  • Roast prawns with cocktail sauce
  • Squid, mint, shallots, bean sprouts, cucumber, chilli salad
  • Poached chicken breast, green onion and ginger sauce
  • Eggplant fries
  • Tom yum soup
  • Caramelised fennel with goats curd
  • Duck confit
  • Vietnamese meatballs
  • Turkey fritters with wasabi guacamole
  • Tuna tartare
  • Sauteef fish pistachio paillarde
  • Scallops with pan fried chorizo
  • San choy bow
  • Chicken breast spread with umeboshi and shiso and rolled up and sauteed
  • Miso and ginger marinated chicken thighs
  • Mushroom ragout and a bread roll
  • Oysters kilpatrick and salad
  • Sunomono (Japanese pickled seafood salad) with cucumbers
  • Wasabi and soy sauce soba noodles with poached salmon on top


#67 huiray

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 08:21 PM

Try Teochew steamed fish as a variation. :-)

#68 menuinprogress

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 09:49 PM

Re ideas, if anyone's looking for any..here's a list of meals I've cooked over the last year or so for myself.


Fantastic list of dishes!

It grabbed me with both familiarity (ingredients and cuisines I enjoy and am comfortable with) and inspiration (new ideas and combinations).

Thanks!
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#69 Jaymes

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 01:05 PM


Re ideas, if anyone's looking for any..here's a list of meals I've cooked over the last year or so for myself.


Fantastic list of dishes!

It grabbed me with both familiarity (ingredients and cuisines I enjoy and am comfortable with) and inspiration (new ideas and combinations).

Thanks!


I really agree. A truly inspirational list. Thanks so much for taking the time to post it!

And, I was reminded last night that the issues involved with cooking for one extend to the desserts as well.

Sure, you can dish up a few scoops of ice cream, or go for a piece of cheese and some fruit, but if you'd like something a little more substantial, all of those other problems we've talked about arise.

One thing that's worked for me is to make a pound cake (or buy a Sara Lee frozen one), and keep that in the freezer. It's so easy to cut off a slice (even when frozen), either toast it a bit to get it crunchy on the outside, or just let it thaw (only takes a couple of minutes), add some fruit, and then top with whatever sounds good: a scoop of ice cream, a few spoonfuls of heavy cream, some "whipped topping" (like Redi-whip real cream), chocolate syrup, jelly or jam or preserves, Nutella, or my personal favorite, cajeta.

Edited by Jaymes, 05 January 2013 - 01:08 PM.

"KNOWLEDGE TENDS TO ELEVATE THE HORSES" - cdh


#70 ElaineK

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:52 PM

I just attempted to make chocolate mousse for one. I had a recipe that claimed to make four servings, and used two egg yolks. Two servings was an acceptable compromise to me and trying to whip half an egg yolk with teaspoon of sugar to ribbons was a loosing proposition, so I just cut it in half. I now have about eight times as much chocolate mousse as I wanted to eat, and while it's delicious - I'm annoyed about feeling like I need to either eat too much sweet junk or waste the rest.

In retrospect, I should have taken the mousse base (yolk, sugar, booze) and dumped two thirds or three quarters of it in the trash, then cut the rest of the recipe down accordingly. Better to waste a small amount of inexpensive ingredients than all the good chocolate and cream too.

#71 HungryC

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:12 PM

In retrospect, I should have taken the mousse base (yolk, sugar, booze) and dumped two thirds or three quarters of it in the trash, then cut the rest of the recipe down accordingly. Better to waste a small amount of inexpensive ingredients than all the good chocolate and cream too.

Oh, no. I can't endorse dumping edible food straight into the trash. Surely you have coworkers, next door or down the hall neighbors, friends, acquaintances, who would love to receive chocolate mousse? Wow. I can't imagine throwing perfectly good food straight into the trash.

#72 Bojana

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 05:19 AM

I hate cooking for myself! If I did not have a family, I'd be living on sandwiches and reheated canned beans.

So my advice is theoretical but one way you could approach it is to freeze components that are labour intensive and feeze well (ie stock, sauces, some baked goods). For the rest, for key ingredients you don't want to waste, make a 2-3 day plan. For example, from the same piece of meat, you can make different dishes by cutting it or slicing it differently. With veggies, you can make salad on day 1, then stir fry or cook them day 2/3.
Invest in vacuum sealer, everything keeps longer and you can build on your leftovers. Stir fry form day one can be turned into a creative torilla on day 2. And so forth...

#73 ElainaA

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 01:30 PM

For multiple perspectives on this topic (as well as recipes) read Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler. It is a collection of essays by a wide variety of individuals - including M.F.K. Fisher, Marcella Hazan, Paula Wolfert and many who are not involved in the food industry - Nora Ephron and Haruki Murakami, for two - about what they cook when they cook only for themselves. Recipes included.

I normally cook for two but I truly enjoy nights when I am home alone and can cook what ever I want. It may be as simple as a small steak and a baked potato or, more often, a salad with marinated veggies and maybe some shrimp. Or an omelet and and a glass of wine.
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero
But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

#74 weinoo

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:41 PM

Crisped up confit duck wings (the legs having already been eaten, along with the necks) with potatoes, onions, and tiny mushrooms...

2013_01_09 Confit + potatoes_2.jpg
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#75 jrshaul

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 03:36 PM

My suggestions for cooking for one:1. Boxed stock plus good-quality frozen vegetables makes for a decent soup. Make a batch, eat over the next three days. Beef stock plus kale plus some dried mushrooms is a nice combination.2. Sous-vide chicken breasts cooked with a little garlic can be pan-seared for greater enjoyment or chopped up and added to stir-fries. I might try glazing them with BBQ sauce and broiling briefly. I cook mine in a 160 bath for two hours - the texture is very nice, and it ensures the safety of my bottom-grade poultry.



Posted Image

Edited by jrshaul, 09 January 2013 - 03:37 PM.


#76 weinoo

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:11 PM

I think pizza is a fine meal when cooking for one. I always make enough dough for 6 - 8 crusts...they are easily frozen individually, and defrosted overnight in the fridge - well, the possibilities are endless.

I had no mozzarella in the house, so feta was a quick sub for this solo pie (which started out round) I had for lunch...

2013_01_10 Pizza_2.jpg
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#77 HungryC

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:14 PM

weinoo, I want that for lunch *every*day.

#78 radtek

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:00 PM

I've been told that cooking for one is more challenging than cooking for 100.

I've been cooking for "one" for as long as memory serves. IMO the trick to it is to have a balance of dried, canned, frozen, preserved etc foodstuffs on hand so that fresh ingredients from the store can be turned quickly into new meals. I also support going daily to the market- though that might not be practical for many. If one passes by the supplies everyday it makes sense for me to buy only what is needed such as a 1/4lb cut of salmon and a broccoli crown that'll go with rice, pasta, potatoes etc from the pantry for example. Or maybe just one pork-chop or six shrimp and a handful of green beans bought that day. No fear about the reaction from the people behind the counter except they always try to over sell. No I don't want 0.35 of a pound of fish when I asked for 0.25! Cut me another but slightly smaller please... I just scale for one to two people as there is no fear of some leftovers which are nice at work the next day.

For stocks and bases I like Minor's and a teaspoon added can make a huge difference and is a real timesaver.

Often I'll cook (smoke) an entire cut such as a 10lb brisket. There is no way it can all be consumed by myself in a short time period. So I slice and divide into single portions in vac-bags. I can pull one of these out, thaw and make a variety of dishes within minutes.

I suspect liuzhou knows all these things already and that is the source of of his frustration at not getting any new tidbits of info. But there's not much anyone can do if another doesn't like freezing portions or eating leftovers or incorporating such into other subsequent dishes. I look at this practice as an extension of "prep". To me this is required and part of the challenge of cooking for a single person if one wants to avoid tossing food in the trash...

#79 Jaymes

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:35 PM

It may be as simple as a small steak and a baked potato or, more often, a salad with marinated veggies and maybe some shrimp. Or an omelet and and a glass of wine.


I, too, occasionally like "a small steak." A filet mignon is the right size, but I very much prefer the flavor of a nice, thick ribeye. So I buy nice, thick ribeyes. And cut them in half and freeze them. Perfect for one.

"KNOWLEDGE TENDS TO ELEVATE THE HORSES" - cdh


#80 Jaymes

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:43 PM

I suspect liuzhou knows all these things already and that is the source of of his frustration at not getting any new tidbits of info. But there's not much anyone can do if another doesn't like freezing portions or eating leftovers or incorporating such into other subsequent dishes. I look at this practice as an extension of "prep". To me this is required and part of the challenge of cooking for a single person if one wants to avoid tossing food in the trash...


To me, successful and enjoyable cooking for one is a puzzle. To solve it requires using a wide range of puzzle pieces - tools, methods, ingredients, possibilities. I think it's extremely counterproductive to flatly refuse to use any one of these puzzle pieces. I'm just happy I have access to them all - freezer, microwave, pantry, stovetop, oven, toaster oven, excellent grocery stores, etc. The list goes on.

And I happily and gratefully take full advantage of each.

"KNOWLEDGE TENDS TO ELEVATE THE HORSES" - cdh


#81 SobaAddict70

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 02:16 PM

Here's my version of RRO's list (btw, I'm glad you've returned to posting regularly as I've missed you :wub: ). Vegetables and pasta rank high, but that's because of my current eating habits. As an aside, the change didn't happen overnight. It was a gradual transformation. I joke sometimes that "I fell asleep underneath an apple tree and woke up an eater-of-salads instead of an eater-of-doughnuts. :wink:

Sautéed shrimp with chanterelle mushrooms and frisée
Scrambled eggs with lobster roe
Squid, poached in olive oil, with citrus zest, ramps and herbs
Cabbage, with onion and pancetta
Bai qie ji (Chinese white-cut chicken), with Hainanese chicken rice
Ricotta gnocchi, with corn and heirloom tomatoes
Prosciutto, with roasted apricots
Sweet crêpes, with Honeycrisp apple compote and vanilla ice cream
Caramelized onion tart
Shiro plum tart (with a pate sucrée base), creme anglaise
Tortilla de patatas
Stufato di verdure (a Tuscan vegetable stew that consists of vegetables cooked in their own juices, along with various flavorings such as anchovy, chopped olives, olive oil, vinegar, wine and/or herbs)
Mujadara
Pollo alla cacciatora
Penne, with fennel, mint and fried breadcrumbs
Minestra di zucchine e scarola (zucchini and escarole soup, with garlic croutons)
Peas with pancetta
Lentils, with butter and parsley
Whole wheat spaghetti, with Jersey tomatoes, Campari tomato confit and mint
Tagliatelle, with parsnips and pancetta
Oeufs en cocotte
Slow-cooked wild turkey egg, roasted asparagus, fried polenta cakes
Sweet blueberry-lemon soup, with sweetened polenta and ricotta salata
Homemade jiaozi, with Cantonese roast duck, brussels sprouts and serrano pepper
Corn fritters, slow-roasted tomato confit and fromage blanc
Fava bean and heirloom tomato ragoût
Celery, braised with wine, butter and herbs
Radicchio salad, with honey-roasted shallots, Cara Cara oranges and chestnuts
Pan-roasted black sea bass, with buttermilk corn chowder
Arugula and Bordeaux spinach salad, with fried farm egg, and homemade salt-and-vinegar potato chips
Broiled marinated sardines, with greens and heirloom potatoes
Rock shrimp, with Indian spices and heirloom tomatoes
Fagiolini e patate (green beans and potatoes)
Tomato and crispy sourdough bread salad, with Spanish chorizo, almonds and poached farm egg


Some of these are deceptively simple-sounding, but they're all doable and perfect for dinner (or breakfast/lunch) for one.

ETA: A few of them are appetizers, side dishes, salads or first courses, or in some cases, dessert. Just to be clear.

Edited by SobaAddict70, 15 January 2013 - 02:24 PM.


#82 JAZ

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:47 PM

I just attempted to make chocolate mousse for one. I had a recipe that claimed to make four servings, and used two egg yolks. Two servings was an acceptable compromise to me and trying to whip half an egg yolk with teaspoon of sugar to ribbons was a loosing proposition, so I just cut it in half. I now have about eight times as much chocolate mousse as I wanted to eat, and while it's delicious - I'm annoyed about feeling like I need to either eat too much sweet junk or waste the rest.

In retrospect, I should have taken the mousse base (yolk, sugar, booze) and dumped two thirds or three quarters of it in the trash, then cut the rest of the recipe down accordingly. Better to waste a small amount of inexpensive ingredients than all the good chocolate and cream too.


If you're still interested, I do have a recipe for 2 servings of chocolate mousse. It's here: chocolate mousse for two.

#83 huiray

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:06 PM

Variations on a Theme.

An example of the repurposing of leftovers into several separate meals:

http://forums.egulle...-7#entry1910934

http://forums.egulle...-7#entry1910938

http://forums.egulle...-7#entry1910999



#84 Plantes Vertes

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 06:44 PM

Well, I am late here, but I also cook for one.

 

Nowadays I'm a vegan and that does simplify the game; I buy a lot of produce and have no problem finishing it all :biggrin:. But I have cooked all sorts of things in the past.  

 

  • Rely on the simplicity of food in its whole state; a tomato, an egg, a carrot, a crottin de Chavignol, a small trout, a bread roll; they are already 'for one'. 
  • Shop in produce markets, cheesemongers, fruiterers, bakeries, fishmonngers, dry goods stores, butchers, not in the supermarket; then you can buy your food in whatever quantity you like. You can get a single slice of cheese.
  • Cook on a cycle of ingredients. For example; day 1 - spanakopita (spinach, feta, pastry); day 2 I have leftover pastry; make baklava; I bought honey and pistachios for my baklava, so day 3 I make honey-roast veg; now I have some left-over veg so on day 4 I make soup and top it with the rest of the pistachios, etc.
  • Eat the same ingredient more than once in a row. It's nice to let one ingredient predominate for a few days and experiment with different ways of preparing it. Sometimes I pick a themed section from a cookbook and make several recipes centred on the same food for a few days. Then I have a little cluster of recipes for clams or whatever that I wouldn't have otherwise.
  • Change your sauces; they are very easy to prepare for one, if you're prepared to accept the freezer; you can make a healthy quantity of stock and freeze it in portions, then use it as the base for infinite variations. Then your food can involve the same main ingredient twice in a row but be served in a different way.
  • Use dry goods. If you have a pressure cooker you can buy your chickpeas in whatever quantity is sold and get a handful done quickly whenever you wish.
  • Freeze things before you cook with them if you dislike eating reheated dishes; chicken parts, sausage, blanched vegetables, herbs, milk... many things can simply be divided up for freezing and used as and when.
  • Use cooking equipment suitable for small quantities of food; this will reduce wastage, as there is often an instinct to use more of an ingredient that necessary if large vessels are employed.
  • Reduce recipes by slightly more than indicated; a recipe for four will often contain more than a strict four portions.