Cook and Shop for One

Edited by Sobi, Grimm, Dougie

Cooking for one can be a challenge, especially if you aren't fond of leftovers, you want variety and you want to prevent waste of food. It can also be a challenge getting the seasonings just right when decreasing recipes to serve one or even two people. Seasonings are good, but when they overpower the other ingredients it can ruin a good dish. Downsizing recipes may take several attempts before you get it right for your individual tastes.

Meats, sea food, and poultry are easily cut up into individual portions and can be frozen. Some fresh produce can spoil quickly; you will want to consume that at the beginning of your menu. Recipes can be found in numerous cookbooks, magazines and on the internet. There are many cookbooks on the market that cater to one or two servings. Most people tend to use very few recipes' from each of the books. Flipping through several different books or surfing the internet to find certain recipes is not always convenient.

Writing recipe cards or pages of complete meals for one person, makes it convenient in that you have all the recipes and ingredients for that meal together, and you are able to see what you need to buy at the store if not already in your pantry. It also allows you to see exactly what you are eating. Nothing is written in stone, you can be as flexible as you like. You can try different ways of planning to find which way works best for you. Keep in mind, when planning your meals, the prep and cooking time. If you work outside your home, will you have time to cook before work? Are the ingredients of your chosen recipes easily obtainable and will they spoil before you use them?

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How to Plan a Menu for One

  1. 1
    Pantry, refrigerator and Freezer
    Make a list of what you have in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. If you are lucky enough to have your own garden, write down what is available. Many people keep basics stocked, such as flour, sugar, regularly used spices, rice and other dry goods.
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  2. 2
    Seven days of food
    Make a list of foods you like and number them one through seven. At this time, they do not need to be in order. Try to incorporate as much food as you already have on hand in your menu planning. Do a separate list each for breakfast, lunch, dinner and don't forget snacks. This will aid you in planning for the week. Planning helps to keep costs down, and prevent you from running to the store often, you'll know what you have and don't have. Starting out planning for one week is easier than jumping into a full 30 day plan, as you become comfortable with planning it is easy to increase to 2 or 4 weeks at a time. Be sure and list what sides you want with each meal.
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  3. 3
    Menu planners
    There are numerous free templates on the internet for weekly or monthly menu planners. Some have space for 3 daily meals on a weekly bases, others monthly, some also have space to write what you have on hand in your home and what food you need to buy for the week. Try different styles to fine the one that works best for you.
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  4. 4
    Planning your menu
    Lay your lists in front of you so that you can see all at one time. On a separate paper write at the top of the page Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and snacks. At the left edge number one through seven, every 3 or 4 lines (allow yourself room to write). Write down from your lists what you would like for those three meals for each day. For example; Under the breakfast column -Oatmeal with apples, raisins and cinnamon, lunch column- salad and fruit, and under dinner column- fried pork chop with onion gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli. Do this for 7 days total. You can add in what you would like for snacks. Ideas for snacks are fruit, fresh vegetables, homemade popcorn, cookies, and so on.
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  5. 5
    Arranging your meals
    Look at your 7 days of planned meals, in the above example of oatmeal, salad and fruit and pork chop with mashed potato and gravy for one day, will that fill you up for the day or be too much? Will a lighter breakfast work better for you or a lighter dinner? You can re-arrange your meals to suit your tastes and time limits.
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  6. 6
    Filling in the menu planner
    Once you have your meals in the order you like, you can write them on your menu planner. With practice, you won't need to write so many lists and will be able to just jot down on your planner what you want.
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  7. 7
    Finding recipes
    As stated, recipes can be found in numerous cookbooks, magazines and on the internet. Another place to seek recipes is from family and friends.
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Tips for Buying, Preparing, and Storing Food

  • Butchering chicken: Buying a whole chicken can be more economical. You can cut the bird up into single serving pieces. Save the carcass for broth. Will you eat a whole breast? Think about what you are planning to make, slicing the breast so that it is thin for chicken piccata or making chicken cordon blue. Layer your pieces with freezer paper and place in larger freezer bag, this allows you to take what you need for cooking and not have to thaw out excess meat. Using freezer paper and freezer bags helps to keep your freezer organized. Masking tape allows you to label your cuts and the type of meat, or you can buy label made specifically for freezer labeling. How to Cut a Whole Chicken Into 10 to 12 Pieces
  • Preparing meats: When you buy a package of ground beef, or any type of meat, you can divide it into single serving portions and place each portion into a snack size freezer bag and then put the bags into a gallon size freezer bag in the freezer. Do the same with pork chops and any other meats you purchase. If you don't use snack size bags, use freezer paper between the portions of meat and place in freezer zip-lock bags. You could also put the zip-lock bags into a gallon size bag to help keep your freezer organized and it will be easier to find each food. You will find the best method that works for you.
  • Buying produce: Some produce spoils quickly, while others can be stored for several days or weeks. Cook or eat the produce that spoils quickly first, like spinach or leafy greens. Some produce, like yellow squash and zucchini can be cut up and frozen; they are good in soups and other cooked dishes. Buy small sized vegetables, for example, instead of a regular size cabbage, look for the smallest one available. How to Shop for One on a Budget
  • Homemade bone Broth: With your saved chicken carcass you can make bone broth. Using freezer paper and freezer bags helps to keep your freezer organized. Layer your pieces with freezer paper so that you can take what you need for cooking and not have to thaw out excess meat. Also for beef broth, use meaty bones. You can make vegetable broth also. You can freeze the broths in snack size freezer bags or pour some into cupcake tins (these are usually about ½ cup) and freeze, when frozen, remove and place into gallon size freezer bag.
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  • Single serving size meats thaw faster than regular package size meats. If you make soup for dinner, you may have some leftover for lunch the next day. Pancakes and waffles can be made using the regular family size recipe and frozen in individual servings. Lasagna is also a dish that can be made at the regular family size and can be frozen in individual servings.

Warning Use Safe Food Handling

Always use safe food handling practices. You don't want to contaminate your vegetable salad with raw chicken drippings. Many governments have web sites that have information and instructions for safe food handling.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Cooking

Recent edits by: Grimm, Sobi

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