Cooking for One

At the risk of being maudlin, I remember soon after Adrian died that I said, “I’ll never cook again.” It was totally irrational of course and why that popped into my mind at such a time I cannot tell you except that food and cooking obviously is a big part of my life and routine. As I look back on that thought and, yes, I did say it out loud, it explains a lot. I watch people in the grocery store buying frozen dinners and prepared foods which are just awful for you health-wise. My mother did that after my father died and talked about the different brands of pot pies and other such dinners. At the time I thought, at least she’s eating! For me, eating is not the problem. Not one bit. It’s eating healthy.

It is nothing new that grocery stores package things in larger quantities than what I typically need. That is very frustrating. Of course, you are thinking, why doesn’t she just ask them to break up a package? Not as easy as it sounds and then there’s the thought, “Oh, well, I’ll freeze…,” whatever it is I’ve purchased. Once the food is home and the shopping part is done complete with the very obvious bunch of things that are for one person, the challenge is to provide freshly prepared food that isn’t the same every week. It’s difficult to make interesting food for one. Freeze it, you say. My cousin, Jill, can make something (always delicious!) and eat it during the week ahead. I, on the other hand, do not like leftovers or reheated food. That presents problem #3 with #1 being the shopping and #2 being coming up with meals that are interesting.

If there is anyone out there that is single and trying to be frugal, here are a couple of things that work for me although they do get boring after awhile. First, I bake chicken (same goes for salmon which you can buy individually wrapped like Full Circle) and use it three different ways. chicken Once with steamed or roasted veggies and usually brown rice. Excuse the sidebar here — the brown rice presents yet another problem because my favorite recipe, given to me years ago by Michael, makes a lot so using it in a second or third meal is an option. OK, back to the chicken. Then, cobb salad and finally a noodle bowl. Noodle bowls are a great repository for leftover spinach, broccoli, carrots, meat, fish, almost anything you can think of. Pattis-Noodle-Bowl And…every time I visit Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, I buy soba noodles or udon noodles for this purpose.

While this was not meant to be a tutorial on how to use chicken a million different ways — you already know that — cooking for one person is something I think about a lot. Sometimes I sit down to a beautiful dinner, a glass of wine, and I feel very glad that I went to the trouble. Other times it’s a bit sad to not be sharing it. And, still other times, a glass of wine and cheese and crackers will be good enough for dinner. Or, a frozen pizza (I am learning which ones actually taste of something other than cardboard). Take a look next time you go to the store — not at the prepared food but at ingredients you would use to make a nice dinner — see how they are packaged and imagine how you would cook for one. [Disclaimer: This blog is not directed at my cousin, Jill, who has cooking and healthy eating for one down to a science.] This is meant to provide insight into living alone and trying to stay healthy. If I am being really honest, I’ll admit that I could live on chocolate and pasta! Cobb salad for dinner tonight. Now how can I make half a loaf of bread in my breadmaker?