Last night I had another wow-i’m-getting-kind-of-good-at-this moment.
Cooking for one can be kind of tricky. When I first started prepping my meals for the week, I was really bad at winging it and had to stick to a strict menu. I never kept fresh ingredients on hand out of fear of them going bad, and I only bought enough of what I needed to cook the meals I planned. Inevitably, at some point mid-week, every week, I’d crave some spontaneity in my diet which usually led to eating out and wasting my pre-cooked food (and essentially my time).
Over the years, I’ve developed more of a tact for cooking on the fly. I think for most, it really is one of those things that just takes time.
Last night I really didn’t feel like eating the roast I made for the week, but I also didn’t want it to go to waste. So instead of eating it how I intended to, plain with a side of green veggies, I decided to spice it up. I cut up red peppers, onions, and garlic and threw them in the skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper. When the veggies were cooked, I cut the roast into chunks and added it to the skillet to heat and soak up some of the flavor.
Maybe not the prettiest meal to look at, but it was delicious – even better than the typical restaurant fajita and much, much cleaner.
A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought to do this and I certainly would not have had the ingredients on hand to do so.
WhenI first started reading healthy living blogs, I would kind of beat myself up over not being as creative in the kitchen as my favorite bloggers. I’d find success with recreating specific meals, but was always left with extra ingredients and no idea what to do with them, except let them go bad. I cannot tell you how many wilted herbs I’ve thrown away. I’m sure some of you can relate so I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned along the way for cooking for one without wasting too much precious food.
Tips on Cooking for One
- Meal Plan — Plan your meals for the week and buy just enough ingredients to cook those meals. If you can tolerate eating the same foods more than one day a week, cook in bulk for either the whole week or 3-4 days worth. This really makes life so much easier.
- Avoid rare ingredients – For example, if your recipe calls for a herb you’ve never heard of, and can’t use elsewhere, try replacing it with something more versatile.
- When cooking foods that freeze well, make extra — Many of you will be making soups as the weather gets cooler. Cook enough for the week, plus extra to freeze. One day when you aren’t feeling your regularly scheduled meal, you will have it as backup.
- Keep basics and non-parishables on hand — onions, sweet potatoes, pasta and rice, beans, eggs, frozen breads (love Ezekiel), canned tuna, nuts and nut butters
- Jump on sales – Even if you don’t plan on eating tilapia this week, if a huge bag is on sale, buy it and put it in the freezer for the next time you’re craving it.
The biggest advice I can give you is don’t give up. Cooking doesn’t come easy to everyone. If you are making an effort to improve your health and save money by cooking at home, keep experimenting and learn from whatever mistakes you make along the way.
Q: Do you cook for one? If so, what tips can you share?