Cooking for One

Cooking is all about sharing; that’s why cooking for one or two people is not as much fun as cooking for larger group. Not having the positive reinforcement of “oohs” and “aahs” around the dinner table is a real bummer.

In these economic times it makes real sense to do your own cooking even if it is just for yourself. First, you can control the ingredients; second, it is just cheaper than eating out or buying convenience foods; and third, you can exercise portion control.

The trick is how you do it without spending all your time in the kitchen. And how do you make enough just for one without a ton of leftovers that will just go to waste.

The food industry has fortunately made it very easy for even a “passing fair” cook to make a well-balanced meal in a short period of time. Between a microwave oven and a counter top grill it is possible to have a protein, starch, and vegetable on the plate within 20 minutes or less.

Boneless pork chops and chicken breasts as well as hamburgers, steaks, and shrimp cook up fast on a counter top grill. Many of the frozen vegetables such as broccoli, corn, sweet peas, and green beans need about 5 minutes to cook in a microwave oven. Sliced fresh potatoes, either sweet or white, also take around 5 minutes in a microwave.

Your food needn’t all taste the same either. There are numerous bottled sauces and marinades available on the market today. One of my favorites is Olive Oil Vinaigrette salad dressing. Sprinkling a serving of this (2 tablespoons) over the vegetables and potatoes before microwaving will brighten the taste with the added benefit that the vinegar will aid in the digestion of the meal.

Comfort foods, such as spaghetti, beef stroganoff, and beans, that aren’t practical to make in small portions can be made in their usual quantity and then separated into single portions for freezing. It is nice to have something quick and easy on hand. Most shaped cookie recipes can be formed into logs and then frozen. When you want a cookie or two just slice them off and bake. Homemade cookies, warm from the oven—yum.

I hope to share some of my recipes and tips in the near future, starting with my special spaghetti sauce.