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Cooking for One


liuzhou
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The OP is a he I believe. :wink:

Ah... too late to edit.

Well, then, everyone make your own pronoun substitutions.

ETA: And, just want to add that I hope he didn't take that remark I made about my father personally.

:biggrin:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

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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A while back, a friend that is seriously into Mexican cooking, and that also lives alone, spent several days making a fabulous Mexican mole sauce. After it was ready, she poured it into a sheet pan of some sort and froze it. Then she cut it into bricks about 3" x 2" x 1", wrapped the bricks individually, and froze them. I was lucky enough to receive several of these mole bricks for my freezer.

I would come home after a long day at work, take out one of my individually-frozen chicken breasts, poach it in a little of my frozen chicken stock, shred it, heat up one brick of mole, put some of the shredded chicken into a hot, fresh corn tortilla, cover it with that marvelous mole, and have quite a feast.

Another time-consuming Mexican dish is "Huachinango a la Veracruzana" - red snapper Veracruz style. Like mole, it's one of Mexico's iconic dishes. But it calls for a whole red snapper, which certainly isn't practical for one person. And the sauce takes too much time to just bother making one cup. So I make lots of the sauce, freeze it in small plastic bags, then at dinnertime, take out an individually-frozen fish fillet, cover it with one portion of my Veracruzana sauce, and bake it in my toaster oven. Serve with sliced avocados and charro beans, or perhaps some refried beans (either homemade and frozen in small portions, or reconstituted from one of the several companies that package dried refried beans - particularly handy for Mexican food aficionados to have on hand in your pantry because they keep forever and you can make as much as you want).

http://mexicanfood.a...chinangover.htm

http://www.mexgrocer...CFelFMgodS20Aew

Edited by Jaymes (log)

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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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.

Before I proffer any suggestions I would like to know if you have much freezer space. Having a freezer directly influences my choices.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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Shame the OP has gone off - only just seen this thread

Firstly - some meals taste a whole lot better as left overs. I am thinking Lasagne, Shepherd's Pie. They always seem to taste better the next day.

I have lived alone for long period of time. The jacket potato has been my fall back, but I also try to cook healthy meals from fresh - especially when I have been trying to lose weight.

This has included Spaghetti Bolognese, stir fries, hot pots, risottos and grilled fish/meat with salads. I also had a small slow cooker so I could make casseroles before I left for work in the morning that would be ready when I got home.

If you are looking for actual recipes - try here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/recipes/favourites/meals-for-one/

http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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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.

Before I proffer any suggestions I would like to know if you have much freezer space. Having a freezer directly influences my choices.

I'd just like to say that there are obviously a lot of people that are interested in the topic of cooking for one, as evidenced by the many responses in this thread from folks trying to be helpful to the OP. So, I'd love it if you would please share whatever tips you might have, freezer or no freezer. Clearly, not every suggestion or tip is going to be relevant or helpful to absolutely everybody, in any case. I'd request you, and others, to just offer up whatever ideas you have and people can read and use what works for them. And simply ignore what isn't appealing, or workable for their situation.

After all, this thread is entitled "Cooking for One," and it isn't in any sort of regional or specialty forum. Cooking for One pertains to a lot of people, and that number is only going to grow.

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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Shame the OP has gone off - only just seen this thread

Firstly - some meals taste a whole lot better as left overs. I am thinking Lasagne, Shepherd's Pie. They always seem to taste better the next day.

I have lived alone for long period of time. The jacket potato has been my fall back, but I also try to cook healthy meals from fresh - especially when I have been trying to lose weight.

This has included Spaghetti Bolognese, stir fries, hot pots, risottos and grilled fish/meat with salads. I also had a small slow cooker so I could make casseroles before I left for work in the morning that would be ready when I got home.

If you are looking for actual recipes - try here http://www.bbcgoodfo.../meals-for-one/

And, speaking of lasagna, that's something that freezes really well. I often make a big pan of lasagna, cut it into individual portions, and freeze them. A quick spin in the microwave oven, and you're eating one of the best, tastiest, most comforting meals on the planet. Ditto with meatloaf. And, as was suggested earlier in the thread, meatballs.

Also, thanks for that great link. Looks like a wonderful website.

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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Technically I don't cook for one. However, since my wife had weight loss surgery 4 years ago, dinner is whatever I cook plus a little extra protein for her. We buy frozen beef and turkey patties, individually frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs from Costco and I keep chicken broth and beef bouillion around at all times. Since I happen to love crackers I usually have some crackers with milk while I cook the protein and veggie. The crackers are my starch. Because the protein is already portioned coming out of the freezer it's simple to cook something up sized for just me or for both of us. For the chicken thighs I like to brown them in the pan, then add chicken broth and the seasonings de jour, then reduce the broth enough to use as a sauce (my wife does need moisture with her meat), sometimes adding sour cream, sometimes not. This of course isn't an actual recipe but is my basic jumping off point. We only eat beef once a week or so and I tend to go for the crock pot to keep things moist.

Last night my wife asked to add fish back into our diet and since it's is now (just recently) just the 2 of us again, I will gladly start cooking fish again. My favorite way to fix fish is in individual portions inseparate paper pouches. For each person you put a single serving of fish in a piece of parchment paper with a bit of white wine, some seasonings (to your taste) and some veggies that can steam in about 20 minutes. Seal up each paper pouch, put them on a baking tray and cook for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.

I guess my basic take is to have the portions you need already stored as those portions. That does eliminate left-overs - something that rarely gets consumed when leftovers do happen in our home. I'm ashamed to admit that the 2 left-over slices of Christmas' standing rib roast fared no better. The pooch likes it when I make those mistakes.

Point of reference: I'm not a great cook but I've been putting meals on the table for better than 45 years. Started with cooking dinner for my parents, my brother and myself. Then living on my own and feeding just myself. Got married and fed my wife and daughters. My wife and I, on no particular schedule, traded off cooking for the 4 of us. Daughters are now grown and gone, so it's back to just us - and mostly for me. I now do 95% of the cooking and since I enjoy it that's fine with me.

Now if you want something simple that will yield left-over there is always my tried-and-true corned beef. Corned beef on a rack in a vessel with a lid, sprinkle the seasoning packet on the meat, then pour in a bottle of Guinness Stout. Cook for 8 hours at 235 F. This technique leaches out quite a bit of the fat, which I find a plus. Slice off what you want for your dinner, cool the rest and then slice, package and freeze the rest.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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On the topic of freezing moles and other sauces/condiments, I discovered my local Wholesale Club store sells those little plastic containers with lids that restaurants use to serve sour cream, salsa, etc. They come in various sizes: 4 oz, 2 oz, 1 oz and looks like 1/2 oz. I have been using them for individual servings of pesto, mole, sauces from MC@Home, the 4 oz ones for concentrated stocks. Very handy and less time consuming that using ice cube trays like I used to.

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This is going to annoy you, as it’s basically just an exposition on cooking for one, but - I now live alone five days a week. While I started off by cooking big batches of things and freezing leftovers etc so that I’d never be stuck “without”, I realized that I too missed the experience of cooking every day. Plus, getting home tired at the end of the day, it seemed too boring and too much of a hassle to bother defrosting/reheating etc. And I didn’t want to load up big batches of fresh groceries at the beginning of the week that I’d then be in a mad panic to get through before they spoiled.

So now what I do (or what I did before I got sick and stopped eating altogether) is shop every day. It’s a marvellous luxury..to think “What shall I have for dinner tonight?” and anything I can think of, I go get and make, revelling in the knowledge that I have only myself to please. Mussels? I’ll get some. Pork belly? I’ll do a little roast. Chicken wings? Delicious! Cauliflower cheese and nothing else? I’m an adult.

I realize that this isn’t possible for everyone, in terms of location/time/budget but I’m really enjoying it. It’s keeping me eating well and keeping me interested in cooking. It meshes well with my inherent greediness, impatience and inability to plan properly. It might not be a useful idea to YOU at all, but to me, being able to say “I can have anything I want today, and I will!” takes the sense of hassle and the potential doldrums of cooking just for one.

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.

But small amounts of expensive protein and some fresh vegetables are never that complicated. Pay the money and spirit your goods gleefully home like you’re handling gold, and you’ll find a way. ;)

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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:

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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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

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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!

Food Blog: Menu In Progress

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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 (log)

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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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.

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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.

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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...

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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

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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.

201301071658081.jpg

Edited by jrshaul (log)
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