For some of us, we’ve never bothered to cook a full meal for just ourselves. During my marriage, I had fun and took pride in cooking for the family and planning out the meals. And then if my husband was out of town, I would just reheat leftovers, get takeout, or go out to eat but it never occurred to me to just cook a meal for myself.
After my divorce and when the kids were with my Ex, I just kept up the same pattern and not cook when I was solo. But now that we are in a crazy pandemic world and eating out is not even an option for a lot of us and I’ve stocked up on groceries and have some time to think about meal planning, I’ve enjoyed thinking of creative ways to make nice dinners and treat myself to a nice meal at home. Another excuse used for not cooking for 1 person is the extra food and leftover waste.
I have a few tips and ideas but this is all caveated with that I am not a gourmet chef and just use cooking as a hobby and occasionally post an instagram shot of a pretty dish. So you can google around and find lots of inspiration from all of the food blogs out there, my tips are for solo cooks and just what humbly works for me.
The freezer is your friend – When I buy a package of chicken, fish, beef, bread, etc., I immediately portion off the package into single portions and wrap it in plastic wrap then foil and use a sharpie to label it with the date and then it goes into the freezer. Then take out the portion and defrost 24 hours in advance in the refrigerator.
This also works for cooked food. Say you are making a meatloaf or meatballs, a soup/stew, I make the regular sized batch and then put individual portions into the freezer.
Meal Plan around a main ingredient or protein that can be interchanged with different bases (rice, pasta, bread) and different vegetables. I also like to meal plan around different cuisines and try to keep it balanced; mexican, BBQ, chinese, indian . . .it’s fun to use 1-2 main ingredients and then add different regional or global flavors.
Treat Yourself – use fresh ingredients when possible, farmers market produce really makes a difference. If a recipe calls for butter or heavy cream or roasting the vegetables first, these things all contribute to the end flavor result. I know we are all busy and sometimes want to cut corners and yes, the recipe will still work. But I like to treat myself and at least once a week make a great tasting meal with the full-fat and full-flavor version of the dish. Again, I eat cold pizza over the sink sometimes too or a bag of carrots and cereal, and that’s fine. I just also make a date with myself once a week for this nice meal. I’ll even set the table with my “fancy” dishes, and cloth napkin, candles and a nice glass of wine and music.
There’s no right or wrong way to cook for yourself. I’ve just found it as a new hobby that I can get into and have something that’s nourishing and self satisfying when I’m done and I’m such great company too! 🙂
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