Cooking for 1

Here is what I said when #2 asked me about cooking for one person:

It’s not that hard, though of course there are often issues of time and energy.  I eat a lot of pasta, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s nature’s perfect food.  It’s cheap, easy, not bad for you, not too time-consuming, and you can put anything you want on top of it.  It also makes good leftovers.  I will put practically anything over pasta: frozen veggies, chicken, leftover other things, even salad!  A lot of my favorite recipes involve some combination of pasta, garlic, olive oil, spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas, and cheese.

One thing I do a lot is to cook in bulk.  I’ll make a recipe that claims to serve 4 – 6 people, and sometimes even double it if I really like it.  Then I eat that one thing for a few days.  There are a lot of things, like soups, that are great for using up leftover veggies or whatever is sitting around in your house, and then you can freeze individual portions and take them to campus for those days when you have to eat lunch at your desk.  In fact, one of my favorite and most frequent dishes is called “whatever’s in the house, over pasta”.  It also works with cous cous or sometimes rice.  Never cook just one serving of pasta; it takes no more time or energy to cook the whole pound, and then you have quick-heating leftovers.

I invested in some individual-serving-size tupperware, like the size you would put a sandwich in.  I use those for bringing leftovers to campus (for lunch OR dinner, depending on my teaching schedule).  I cook chicken the simplest possible way most of the time, so I don’t have to expend mental energy on it.  (Get a package of breast tenders, put them in a non-stick baking pan, cover with something out of a jar, and stick it in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes or so.)

I’m not sure what else to say, really.  Judicious use of frozen or pre-prepped thingies.  Sometimes cooking on weekends.  I don’t eat the most healthy diet ever, but it’s not bad, and it’s not too expensive.  Maybe an implicit idea here is to cook ONE thing, but make it a thing that’s a complete meal (with veggies, carbs, protein all in it) with various tastes, so you don’t have to cook different things to have a meal and so you don’t get bored eating that one thing.  A casserole, a soup, whatever.

Would anyone else like to add anything about cooking for one?

#2:  I SUCK at cooking for one.  When I’m on my own I live on cereal once the frozen dinners are gone.  I used to live on microwaved baked potatoes, but I can’t eat all those carbs anymore.  ETA:  And ice cream for dinner, of course.

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14 Responses to “Cooking for 1”

  1. Everyday Tips Says:

    I remember cooking for one. I think I ate a lot of sandwiches, but that was a long time ago. If I did it now, I would probably be like you and make a crockpot of soup and eat it for days until it was gone. (I love homemade pea soup.)

    I will say I think it would be harder to eat healthy when cooking for just one. I would probably just go more with convenience than making sure it was healthy and such like I do for my family. Convenience would be a priority I am sure.

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Mmmm. I love homemade split pea soup too. That’s always my first recipe recommendation when someone needs cheap food. It’s filling and healthy too.

  3. Donna Freedman Says:

    Ice cream for dinner! Heathen. Ice cream is CLEARLY a breakfast food.

  4. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff Says:

    I have to cook for one for about 6 months a year while Mr. BFS is a sports official. His day job at school followed by officiating equals 6am-8:30pm workdays, so we eat separately. I sometimes cook bulk one-pot meals on Sunday (I’m also a huge fan of pasta) and reheat it throughout the week or it’s frozen dinners or boxed mac & cheese…my favorite week ever was a combo of spaghetti one night and reheated pizza the other and repeat. :-)

  5. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    #2 here…
    Donna– don’t think I haven’t tried ice cream breakfasts. They make me all titchy. I do much better with cold leftover pizza as breakfast.

    BFS– Wow, you reheat the pizza? I bet you reheat the spaghetti too…

    Man, I am so bad at taking care of myself.

  6. Donna Freedman Says:

    I ascribe to the “one-pot glop” theory of cooking. Every four or five days I make a big pot of pinto beans in the slow cooker and eat them with cornbread (if they were cooked with ham ends) or turn them into chili (if they were cooked plain). I eat that until it’s gone. Then I make another big mess of something (pasta, polenta, meat loaf, a whole chicken, a pork roast) and eat that until it’s gone.
    I fill in here and there with sandwiches (tuna, scrambled-egg, egg salad), burritos, crackers/cheese/fruit, or even just oatmeal or Cream of Wheat for dinner.
    It’s not that I don’t like good food. I do. I just don’t bother with it very often.

  7. Denise Says:

    I cook the same way. For about 8 people and refrigerate leftovers. Sad thing is, I barely want to eat the same thing two days in a row. Leads to a lot of spoilage…

  8. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    #2 again: I do make a lot of egg sandwiches on my own. Sometimes with cheese. Very carb heavy. I also have trouble eating things more than two days in a row. I think #1′s solution of freezing individual containers is a good idea, though I’m often leery of freezing cooked pasta. She doesn’t seem to have a problem with it though.

  9. frugalscholar Says:

    I’m working on this challenge on behalf of my daughter, who cut her college meal plan WAY down and will be cooking in her dorm suite’s kitchen area–which has no stove. Buy a rice cooker is my first piece of advice. Along with a microwave, the rice cooker gives you many many options for easy, no mess, one pot cooking.

    If it’s OK to advertise myself, I’ve started (along with my student son) http://collegecookingcrashcourse.blogspot.com. We haven’t done much there, but will be posting recipes and other tips as we go along.

  10. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Neat! I will be looking forward to seeing what can be done with a rice cooker.

    If you and your son haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend checking out Help! My apartment has a kitchen! It’s also the brain child of a mom and son combination. And it has great recipes and tips.

    ETA, Ah, I see you’ve reviewed it and note that it requires a stove. I used to have a lot of microwave cookbooks but they never did much for me. In the end I got an electric skillet.

  11. frugalscholar Says:

    Yes–thanks for telling us about that book. We’re doing something MUCH more basic–20 ingredients/14 recipes. C’est tout.

  12. Little House Says:

    I really can’t cook; my husband shoos me out of the kitchen whenever he’s cooking because I’m just really clumsy in that room for some reason. However, pasta is one thing that I CAN cook. Besides, when I’m hungry and he’s not I can quickly boil some ravioli and heat up some sauce. Voila! I’m fed. (of course, cereal is so much easier~ ;) )


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