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liuzhou

Cooking for One

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Do you like breakfast foods for dinner? Someone already mentioned eggs, but an omelet, french toast and pancakes are all easy to make a single portion. I usually make pasta or couscous for myself if eating alone. The addins can be whatever is handy.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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When my husband is out of town I indulge myself by cooking dishes I know he won't eat. Lately that has meant cooking from Alain Passard's "The Art of Cooking with Vegetables". Each recipe is a strange combination of a few ingredients - like poaching pears and radishes in butter. The instructions are quite minimal, sometimes to the point of not making sense, which makes it especially fun. No beans, braises, leftovers or freezing involved.

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Thanks for suggestions so far.

I'm afraid it was mostly stir fries, which I realize sounds dull, but for speed, flavour, variety, and freshness, it's really hard to beat.

Yes, I do tend to eat a lot of stir fries. Partly because they are more 'single friendly' and even more so because I'm in China. Experiments can be fun , too, but are only occasional.

Do you like breakfast foods for dinner? Someone already mentioned eggs, but an omelet, french toast and pancakes are all easy to make a single portion. I usually make pasta or couscous for myself if eating alone. The addins can be whatever is handy.

I'm sorry but I want a proper dinner. I wouldn't serve just an omelet or French toast or pancakes for a family dinner or to guests for dinner, so I don't see why I should be restricted just because I live alone. It isn't a crime.

No beans, braises, leftovers or freezing involved.

:rolleyes:


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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. . .

Some things are just too much trouble for one portion. I waste a lot of food. I cook for more than one, but then only eat for one. People tell me to freeze stuff, but most of the time I don't want to live on frozen food. I want to cook.

What is it that makes cooking one portion "too much trouble"? I lived alone for most of my adult life. Granted, I love to cook and I teach classes on cooking for one, so I have double motivation, but I've cooked many dinners for just myself with no leftovers. I've made single portions of (among other dishes) sherry braised chicken, beef stroganoff, quiche Lorraine (with homemade crust), braised short ribs, stuffed bell peppers, macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, enchiladas, salmon and vegetables in parchment paper, risotto, pot pies, Thai curry, and any number of pasta dishes (usually with one portion of fresh made pasta). For side dishes, I've made single portions of rice; grits; mashed potatoes; roasted or steamed green beans, asparagus or broccoli; spinach, broccoli or potato gratins; all kinds of salads from potato salad to coleslaw to grain salads. Baking can be a bit tricker, but I often made 2 biscuits or a single serving of fruit crisp, and I came up with a successful recipe for enough pastry dough for a 4-inch pie tin. Sauces can also be difficult to make in very small quantities, but many of those are possible too -- Hollandaise or lemon curd (with one egg yolk) or bechamel with (3 ounces of milk).

In most of those cases, it's no more difficult to make one serving than four. In many cases, it's much easier. It does help to have the right cookware: for the sauces and grains, it's essential to have a very small saucepan. I have a .75-qt. copper saucepan that I use for sauces and 1-qt. saucier with a lid for rice and grits. If you want to braise small amounts of meat, a 2-qt. cast iron pot with a lid is nice.

It's true that there are a few dishes that aren't possible to make for one without having leftovers. Roasts fall into that category and whole roasted birds can too, unless you can find poussins or Cornish hens (although a Cornish hen is still two dinners for me, it's much more manageable than a regular chicken). Most other dishes can be made for one. That doesn't mean you won't have leftover raw ingredients -- if you make one serving of braised cabbage, you'll still have the rest of the cabbage in the fridge. In those cases, I plan on other meals within the next week or 10 days that use cabbage -- coleslaw, a stir fry dish, etc.

You've already said you don't like the casual approach suggested by some -- you want a "proper" dinner. You don't like cooking extra food and freezing. So what's left besides learning how to make small amounts of what you do like? What is it that's problematic about that for you? Is it that you don't know how to reduce recipes? You don't know how much to make? That takes practice, but it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it. (I've written articles on both those topics which, unfortunately, I can't repost here, but if you're interested, I can post links to them). If it's motivation, that's another problem entirely.

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as many of you know, I cook for one 100% of the time.

I rarely freeze stuff. if I do have leftovers, those get consumed within 2-3 days (for example, the minestrone invernale that I just posted to the Dinner! thread).

I guess the best I can offer is reduce the total amount of food made, then it may not be a problem.

BTW -- I cook 2-4 course dinners from scratch at least three days a week, and have been doing that for the better part of the last year. at this point, I have things down to a science. It's kinda scary.

JAZ's last paragraph is pretty key here. All you need is practice and time, so it seems to me.

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Maybe I just worded the introduction to the thread wrongly. I wasn't looking for well thought out expositions on the nature of cooking for one - especially when they get a bit judgemental.

I was kind of more looking for cut down recipes, tips etc. Practical stuff.

I have no objection to reasonably complicated recipes provided they are "single suitable". I often cook fish for myself. Sometimes in complicated ways.

But I absolutely refuse to live on soup and braises only.

the vast majority of recipes on the blog (link in my signature) are sized for 1 person.

there is a tremendously high focus on vegetarian-friendly food, because that's the type of food that I eat most often these days. but I do cook meat from time to time, and things other than pasta. :laugh:

you could start there and see what tickles your fancy, then move to a few of the blogs on my blogroll.

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I'm with Janet on this. I've lived alone much of my adult life. I cook for myself every night; I've never really thought of it as a different category of cooking; I cook pretty much everything, every type of cuisine, just in smaller amounts. Sometimes I make enough for a second/leftover meal, but certainly not always or even often unless I'm really busy and want to not have to cook next day.

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What is it that makes cooking one portion "too much trouble"?

I said "some things" are too much trouble - a point you later concede.

Roasts fall into that category and whole roasted birds can too, unless you can find poussins or Cornish hens

I do eat a lot of pigeons.

So what's left besides learning how to make small amounts of what you do like? What is it that's problematic about that for you? Is it that you don't know how to reduce recipes? You don't know how much to make? That takes practice, but it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

I know how to, thank you very much.

I wasn't looking for cookery lessons. I was just asking for new ideas. Like anyone else, I get tired of my repertoire and don't always have time to experiment.

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I'm with Janet on this. I've lived alone much of my adult life. I cook for myself every night; I've never really thought of it as a different category of cooking; I cook pretty much everything, every type of cuisine, just in smaller amounts. Sometimes I make enough for a second/leftover meal, but certainly not always or even often unless I'm really busy and want to not have to cook next day.

I agree, it's routine with me too, it doesn't require any special thought.

~Martin


~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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This is a favourite and the sort of thing I'm looking for.

SobaAddict70

Some great ideas on your site, thank you.

glad I was able to help. :wink:

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Interest topic;

the simple cooking for one is egg and noodle like I do when in college few years ago, just like some people think cooking for one is need much money to spend then just buy fast food or chinesse food;

good if we can share one plate cooking recipes. :)

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I have to say I'm astonished and saddened by many of the responses here. I don' t know why, but in my naivety I thought people might recognise a very common situation and respond with practical suggestions recipes and tips. Instead (with a few exceptions) I feel I've just been patronised and judged.

Clearly my being on my own is some kind of fault. I'm not going to respond to that or explain why I'm on my own. It is none of anyone's business here.

I am used to being looked at with derision when I visit restaurants on my own. "Table for one?" they ask with barely disguised contempt. Clearly I'm a total loser or worse.

Supermarkets do a fine line in multipacks. I want two prime sausages. Forget it. Buy two get one free doesn't apply to the three tomatoes I want to buy. But I'm a useless single.

Not only do I live alone, but my request means that I can't cook! Yeah right.

I thought eGullet would have been more responsive and less judgemental. Now I just wish I had never started the thread.

Feel free to carry on the discussion. I doubt I'll be back.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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I was widowed a couple of years back so now I cook for one 100% of the time.

I learned to cook things that I like and halve and quarter the recipes. And I learned to like leftovers. While I love to cook it does free up that time that I can use to do something else that I enjoy.

I can cook one pork chop, or one steak, or one piece of salmon or other fish.

Sometimes the leftovers are better than they were the first time - that may not work for you but it sure does work for me.

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Liuzhou, Don't give up. Every week I cook up 250grams of pulses, 1.red lentils. 2. chickpeas 3. Cannellini beans, in rotation. I use them for soup or as a side or an addition to a main. and that amount generally lasts me the week. A good chicken, cut off the breasts and freeze , then roast the rest , some hot, then some cold but stick the frame in my new pressure cooker for 1Ltr of good stock. Today my evening meal is a big baked spud (Maris Piper) along with sliced half a cold chicken breast, a shallot. a slice of saucisson sec, minced a couple of tiny grape tomatoes then sweet mustard and mayo (a modest amount).But I am an Anglo Saxon so there is not a lot of 'lightness' My latest trick with veg for one is to slice what ever it is, put it in a plastic pudding basin (that has a lid), whet the contents then plastic wrap over and on with the lid. nuke it for 3 minutes and what every you have (for one) will be al dente . I will look out for you tomorrow Liuzhou


Edited by naguere (log)

Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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I have to say I'm astonished and saddened by many of the responses here. I don' t know why, but in my naivety I thought people might recognise a very common situation and respond with practical suggestions recipes and tips. Instead (with a few exceptions) I feel I've just been patronised and judged.

Clearly my being on my own is some kind of fault. I'm not going to respond to that or explain why I'm on my own. It is none of anyone's business here.

I am used to being looked at with derision when I visit restaurants on my own. "Table for one?" they ask with barely disguised contempt. Clearly I'm a total loser or worse.

Supermarkets do a fine line in multipacks. I want two prime sausages. Forget it. Buy two get one free doesn't apply to the three tomatoes I want to buy. But I'm a useless single.

Not only do I live alone, but my request means that I can't cook! Yeah right.

I thought eGullet would have been more responsive and less judgemental. Now I just wish I had never started the thread.

Feel free to carry on the discussion. I doubt I'll be back.

Hmmmm. I thought everyone made very helpful responses to your OP. I cooked for myself only for over 20 years until I met my current partner. All of these suggestions have been good. You have met every reply to you with a stomp of your feet and a childish "No! That's not what I wanted!".

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V

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I have been on my own the past year in a fairly isolated place and I understand the boredom factor... Some of my current favourites:

Poached egg over asparagus

Steamed Broccoli with hollandaise

Steak sandwich on Turkish bread with a side of coleslaw

Greek salad with Pita bread

Wholemeal toast with avocado, tomato and melted cheese

Traditional beef stroganoff (the quick type made with filet) and steamed green beans

BLTs. With homemade mayo

'Cajun' seasoned chicken breast with salad

Scrambled eggs with plain boiled potato, sliced tomatoes and lots of fresh chopped herbs

Stir fried eggs and tomato on rice

Fried rice on a bed of shredded cabbage with sliced cucumber on top

Pork and capsicum stir fry (from fuchsia Dunlop) which works well as lunch next day

The usual pasta subjects (Marbella hazans tomato butter sauce is good)

Steak tartare with toast and sliced cucumber and tomato

During the winter I frequently made a pseudo-goulash with veal in small quantities - just enough to have a second serve two days later, which made it seem less like leftovers, as well as red-braised beef, which also went nicely into fusiony soft tacos

I have been making a few longer lasting salads (lentil, potato, etc) then making a different grilled meat to go with it, which I find cuts down on prep and still let's the meal feel slightly different.

I do enjoy breakfast for dinner as I don't get a cooked breakfast during the week.

As far as veggies go, I prefer cabbage to lettuce as it lasts so long and is so versatile, and sliced tomatoes and cucumber make a perfectly fine side as far as I'm concerned.

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BLTs. With homemade mayo

This is the type of thing that bites me when cooking for myself. Sure, making a BLT for one is accomplished easily enough, but then I'm left staring at 2/3rds of a tomato, a largely whole head of lettuce and a bunch of bacon. Okay, well, the bacon will keep ok, but the tomato and lettuce? Not so much.

Some meal planning can help, but planning around a BLT?

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BLTs. With homemade mayo

This is the type of thing that bites me when cooking for myself. Sure, making a BLT for one is accomplished easily enough, but then I'm left staring at 2/3rds of a tomato, a largely whole head of lettuce and a bunch of bacon. Okay, well, the bacon will keep ok, but the tomato and lettuce? Not so much.

Some meal planning can help, but planning around a BLT?

Easy. Make a slow-roasted tomato sandwich. Use part of the tomatoes for the sandwich, and the rest for something else. That is, if you can keep from scarfing them all in one sitting.

Or if a tomato sandwich isn't your cup of tea, then make a BLP. (bacon, lettuce and grilled peach sandwich.) And have the rest of the peach for dessert.

But it seems to me that this is not a problem. Slice the rest of the tomato and have it as a snack. That's what I'd do anyway. As for the lettuce, I'd turn it into soup or braise it and serve it for dinner or something.

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BLTs. With homemade mayo

This is the type of thing that bites me when cooking for myself. Sure, making a BLT for one is accomplished easily enough, but then I'm left staring at 2/3rds of a tomato, a largely whole head of lettuce and a bunch of bacon. Okay, well, the bacon will keep ok, but the tomato and lettuce? Not so much.

Some meal planning can help, but planning around a BLT?

Don't buy they giant tomatoes - I use the mini romas that come on the vine - taste better and no cut tomatoes to keep. Two or so of those usually does a sandwich.

Lettuce is useful for a next-day salad and keeps nicely in the fridge, and butter lettuce is much nicer on a BLT than iceberg, so you can get a lot on it.

Bacon is useful in lots of things - but here I can also get just a few slices from the deli counter. Get an extra slice and make bacon and eggs or use it in a pasta sauce.

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BLTs. With homemade mayo

This is the type of thing that bites me when cooking for myself. Sure, making a BLT for one is accomplished easily enough, but then I'm left staring at 2/3rds of a tomato, a largely whole head of lettuce and a bunch of bacon. Okay, well, the bacon will keep ok, but the tomato and lettuce? Not so much.

Some meal planning can help, but planning around a BLT?

The lettuce you can get around with those bagged lettuce leaves, avaliable in Australian supermarkets and grocers at least in a very large variety. I live with one other person so we can't get through a whole lettuce either unless I buy, say, baby cos or a single head of radicchio. Mostly I've found the mixed leaves, so long as you keep an eye on the 'best before', to be fine. Sealed in a zip lock bag (I've never got around to vac sealing them to see if it makes any difference) they'll be fine for a day or two. Some supermarkets even sell 'single portions', presumably under the suspicion that not everyone needs family-sized everything.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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This is a very timely topic. The babyboomers are rapidly approaching the age where they suddenly find themselves alone and a great many people that cooked for families of various sizes still want to enjoy complete meals, but it can require some imagination to turn out tasty meals without wasting a lot of food.

So, because it wasn't initially posted in the Asia forums and can pertain to everyone, I'm going to try again.

I've found myself in pretty much every situation there is when it comes to cooking. Alone when I was young and single (and, just coincidentally, living in Hong Kong, a place where I knew absolutely no one but certainly did not feel sorry for myself because I was a woman alone in a strange land where I knew no one and spoke not one word of Chinese; on the contrary, I was totally besotted with myself for heading there all by myself to see what adventures there might be and how I might get in on some). Then married and cooking for two. Then the chief cook for a growing family of five. Then doing so much cooking and entertaining and catering that now when I look back on it, I can hardly believe I did it (I mean, routinely, luncheons, coffees, teas, picnics, barbecues, dinner parties for 30-80 in my home, you name it - I did it, and several times a week, many times a month, countless times a year). And then moving in with my elderly mother and father and helping him care for her as she slowly lost her long, sad battle with Alzheimer's. And then back to cooking for two - myself and a crabby, lonely old man. Then back to being a singleton in a cute little condo cooking for only myself. Then moving in with daughter and her husband and four children and back to turning out huge meals on a budget.

And now, in a retirement apartment, cooking for only myself once again.

I'm going to try to share tips as I think of them, but for starters, the lettuce thing...

Most good grocery stores where I shop have salad bars. You can pick up as much lettuce there as you need for one meal, as well as chopped onions, green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and myriad other veggies that are already prepped for you. Go home and toss them into your salad, or sandwich, or even into a stirfry.

Also, many many staples freeze exceedingly well. Bread does. And although it goes stale in the refrigerator, that has not been my experience in the freezer. I buy good wheat bread and stick it in the freezer and then just pull off however many slices I need for a sandwich or toast or whatever. Grated cheese used to go bad before I could use up a bag. Now, it goes in the freezer and lasts forever. I love good butter, but it, too, would go rancid before I could get through an entire pound. It freezes beautifully. Bacon freezes. Separate the slices into packets of however many slices you usually use and freeze them. Buy pork chops or fish fillets or hamburger or whatever meats you like and freeze them in individual portions. My very favorite thing to do is to buy those packages of those beautiful little lamb chops at Sam's or Costco and freeze them. At dinner time, pull out one or two. Get a large saucepan with a tightly-fitting lid and brown those chops in the bottom of it. Slice up one potato and brown the slices in that pan, too. Then put the chop and the potato back into the pan, add a little broth, and some vegetables - peas, squash, etc. Sprinkle in a little seasoning (I love Greek seasoning, but you can use Cajun or Asian or Italian or whatever), put the lid back on and allow the whole thing to cook until done. A complete meal and only one pot to clean. And you can do this with virtually any kind of meat you like.

Get a good-quality toaster oven. You can bake or broil or toast many things without having to heat up a huge oven. I like to take one chicken breast, or fish fillet, put it on the toaster oven baking sheet, ladle a little sauce (any sauce you like - salsas, carbonara sauce, white sauces, either made fresh by you or made fresh by you and then frozen in small plastic bags, or bought by you in those premade sauce jars, some of which are not bad) over and bake until done. Fish fillets take about 10-12 minutes; chicken breasts not much longer. Yes, they get a little watery, but just pour that water off. A really good meal for one in no time at all.

I love this topic.

I hope everybody gets over those initial posts that were less than encouraging and comes back here to exchange ideas. As I said, I'm alone again.

And I'm looking for lots and lots of thoughts and suggestions.

And who knows... The OP just might come back and find one or two tips she can use after all.

:rolleyes:


Edited by Jaymes (log)
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I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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