Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Advice Needed: Healthy Cooking for One




phantastica
02-08-2007, 08:34 PM
Hi there, I'd like to call out for suggestions and ideas for my situation. I've been a custodial single parent of one for fifteen years. Recently (about half-way through my weight loss), my son moved in with his father.

Now I live alone and find myself needing to cook for one instead of two. While it might seem easy to make the switch (just do what I'd normally do and freeze half), I find it difficult to justify doing all that cooking for one person. I also find myself at home a lot less often, thereby eating more restaurant meals.

I'm mostly a "Mediterranean" eater ... a lot of whole foods, vegetable-intensive meals, lean protein, nuts, olive oil, etc.

Does anybody have advice on cooking and shopping for one?
If you are a single person living alone, how many dinners a week do you eat at home?

Thank you in advance!


alinnell
02-08-2007, 08:55 PM
I know I'd probably get really bored if I was cooking only for myself, but your idea of cooking the regular meal for two and saving half for another meal is a good idea. Even if you have it for lunch the next day.

Have you considered downloading healthy recipes and converting them to 1 portion? There are software programs available that can do that for you, and you can probably find a freebie one on the internet.

Another idea, if you get bored cooking for yourself and you don't want to eat out, have a few frozen meals in the freezer. Some of the diet ones aren't half bad as long as you watch the sodium.

fatburner77
02-08-2007, 09:14 PM
Hi! I live alone and have become pretty good at making quick, small, one-saucepan meals. For example, tonight I started some mixed frozen vegetables (asparagus, snow peas, broccoli etc. medley) boiling, then to the same pan added 1/3 cup whole wheat pasta. While that was going, I heated up the George Foreman grill and threw an individually-frozen chicken breast on there, sprinkled with a bit of seasonings. (I buy an entire resealable 4 lb. bag of the breasts; just pull out what you need and throw remainder back in freezer.) I topped the drained veggie/pasta combo with a little sauce, and voila! The entire meal was ready in ten minutes.
Also, I absolutely love frozen meals, and they can be spruced up with additional veggies if you feel they're too sparse. I go to the store once per week to replenish fruits and other perishables. You can always make a full meatloaf/pork loin/larger meal of your choosing, slice it into individual serving sizes, and freeze individually.
I eat every night at home -- MAYBE once per week I'll eat a dinner out. I admit, lunches seem easier to deal with as an individual person, because a sandwich or soup suits me fine, but for dinner I tend to want something hot and, well, dinner-like. So I understand where you're coming from!


LaurenTate
02-08-2007, 09:25 PM
Hi there :) I just wanted to share an idea with you. I take two white CORN tortillas (not the flour ones, they're higher in cals.) and Kraft FF shredded cheddar cheese and make a quesadilla out of it, I toast the whole thing in a frying pan on really high heat to make the outside crispy, then slice it into wedges with my pizza cutter and eat it with FF sour cream. I love it! I have one almost everyday, and it's quick and easy and relatively low in calories. I put leftover chicken in it today and had it for lunch. It was pretty tasty. I've got lots of good recipes, if you want more. Take care :)

Luminous
02-08-2007, 09:51 PM
I eat probably 5-6 of my suppers at home on average. The other couple might be with my family.

I actually find it to be a lot more cooking to make 1-person meals than it is to make a 2 or 4 person entree and eat the rest throughout the week. Keep in mind, however, that I'm in a "warm, comforting" food stage...might be the cold weather. So every several weeks I make a lasagnaŚvegetarian, with spinach, mushrooms, veggies, cheese of course, and I add in veggie burger or veggie italian sausage crumbles if I'm in the mood. Eat from fridge til sick of it (I can usually make it to about 4 servings worth) and freeze the remaining 8 or so servings. If I'm in the mood for a warm, stick to your ribs main course and don't feel like cooking, i just get out one of those puppies and nuke it. The lasagna I last made doesn't scrimp on the cheese, though the filling is cottage instead of ricotta because I really like cottage cheese, and comes to 332 cals/serving.

I also keep homemade black bean burgers in the freezer, along with a healthy supply of Morningstar farms burgers. I make homemade ww buns and freeze them. Saute some veggies from the fridge (or from the freezer!) and you have another quick, whole foods, good for you meal.

Egg dishes are also really quick and easy. Scramble some eggs with some tomatoes and peppers and cumin, add garlic and/or onion beforehand if you like it, then dish into a ww tortilla, put some cheese and salsa on if you like, and voila. I'm going to be freezing some of these kinds of concoctions next week; hope it goes well.

General advice would be, I guess, when you've just gone shopping, make cooking/eating the fresh stuff you buy a priority before you eat the things that will keep. Fresh greens before frozen veggies, for example, or even oranges before apples (oranges seem to dry out pretty quickly in comparison to apples!). I suppose as one person (which I am) preservation is something to keep in mind. My nuts always go into the fridge or freezer straight off, because I know I'll never eat them all before they go rancid at room temperature. Same for oils. Bread goes straight into the freezer, which works fine for me because I prefer bread toasted.

RememberHowToSmile
02-09-2007, 12:51 AM
I live by myself so I normally make small portions sizes. I have one of the small crockpots that I make soup in (a personal favorite), a couple days ago I made a great salsa black bean chicken (just put half a can of black beans, half a can of corn, 1 chicken breast, and ½ of a cup of salsa), I buy a larger pot roast and then spit it into two serving portions and freeze them and then I pull them out put them in the crock pot with 2 servings of potatoes, carrots, and onion and a can of beef broth.

I buy large bags of individual frozen chicken breast and then just take them out one at a time. I buy bags of frozen veggies and then stir fry them with chicken. Rice freezes very well so you can make larger batches and freeze them in individual servings.

I also cook a lot of pasta in the same was that fatburner does. I love my George Forman, I cook hamburgers, chicken, pork you name it. I also cook veggies on it to give them the grilled taste.

I buy large packages of chicken legs (very cost efficient) and then freeze them in pair, take them out the night before and thaw in the fridge then bake in the oven for an hour and add some vegetables.

LindaT
02-09-2007, 01:03 AM
I eat at home 7 night a week unless I have a church function or a meeting or something. I plan my meals the week before and yes I usually make whole fod veggie intensive meals. When you are single, the freezer is your friend and leaftovers are wonderful! I don't mind repeat dinner several times a week, because anything I make tastes lots better that anyting I can a buy premade. Cheaper too!! I usually only cook once , maybe twice a week and reheat because I really cannot tolerated messing up the kitchen every night!!

phantastica
02-09-2007, 02:59 AM
Another idea, if you get bored cooking for yourself and you don't want to eat out, have a few frozen meals in the freezer.

I think I'm going to have to break down and buy some not-unhealthy frozen meals. Any suggestions on good ones are welcome!

For example, tonight I started some mixed frozen vegetables (asparagus, snow peas, broccoli etc. medley) boiling, then to the same pan added 1/3 cup whole wheat pasta. While that was going, I heated up the George Foreman grill and threw an individually-frozen chicken breast on there, sprinkled with a bit of seasonings. (I buy an entire resealable 4 lb. bag of the breasts; just pull out what you need and throw remainder back in freezer.) I topped the drained veggie/pasta combo with a little sauce, and voila! The entire meal was ready in ten minutes.

That sounds really good!! I do have a GF grill ... George and I are becoming good friends.

I take two white CORN tortillas (not the flour ones, they're higher in cals.) and Kraft FF shredded cheddar cheese and make a quesadilla out of it, I toast the whole thing in a frying pan on really high heat to make the outside crispy, then slice it into wedges with my pizza cutter and eat it with FF sour cream. I love it! I have one almost everyday, and it's quick and easy and relatively low in calories. I put leftover chicken in it today and had it for lunch. It was pretty tasty. I've got lots of good recipes, if you want more.

I would love more! If you don't read this, I'll PM you in a couple of days.

Egg dishes are also really quick and easy. Scramble some eggs with some tomatoes and peppers and cumin, add garlic and/or onion beforehand if you like it, then dish into a ww tortilla, put some cheese and salsa on if you like, and voila. I'm going to be freezing some of these kinds of concoctions next week; hope it goes well.

Yes! Egg dishes for dinner are very easy to make and to clean up! You make homemade black-bean burgers?? Great idea about adding veggie-burger crumbles to a lasagna. Egg dishes freeze OK?

I have one of the small crockpots that I make soup in (a personal favorite), a couple days ago I made a great salsa black bean chicken (just put half a can of black beans, half a can of corn, 1 chicken breast, and ½ of a cup of salsa), I buy a larger pot roast and then spit it into two serving portions and freeze them and then I pull them out put them in the crock pot with 2 servings of potatoes, carrots, and onion and a can of beef broth.

I've thought about buying one of those little Crock*Pots. I've never ever baked chicken legs - I might need to try that!

I don't mind repeat dinner several times a week, because anything I make tastes lots better that anyting I can a buy premade. Cheaper too!! I usually only cook once , maybe twice a week and reheat because I really cannot tolerated messing up the kitchen every night!!

I think this is much of my problem - I don't like having to clean and do dishes several times a week! I'd rather eat the same thing a few nights in a row than to have to cook and clean repeatedly.

Thank you all for your suggestions and advice. I've got enough ideas here to get me through a month or two.

Man, some of you eat almost all your dinners at home! I must have a little rebellion thing going on because I have this unspoken rule that I should be able to go out to eat as often as I get invited. Which is like 3x a week. Guess I need to come up with some good recipes and invite those same friends over to my place for dinner, instead.

Glory87
02-09-2007, 11:14 AM
Hey, I currently live alone and I cook for myself at least 5 nights of the week. For me, eating out is 1) too expensive 2) way too unhealthy on a regular basis. I am a big fan of making stuff for several nights - I like leftovers and it means the following nights are easy, just reheat and go. I do get tired of food after a couple of days, so sometimes I make food for 4 dinners and freeze half (especially pasta sauce and soup).

I definitely do not mind cooking for just me - I love to eat!!

This week, I had omelets for three nights. I bought a carton of 6 eggs (I'm not scared of yolks, I buy the organic, free range with extra omega-3s). I made a filling with: little baby shrimp, onions, garlic, sun dried tomato, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives. I sauteed the filling and put it in a big bowl. I made a two egg omelet, while the eggs were cooking, I layered in some spinach leaves, then 1/3 filling. Folded the eggs over, made a pretty omelet, slid it onto a plate and topped it with tons of salsa (a little fat free feta is good in that omelet, but I didn't have any). For the next two nights, I just had to make the egg portion and nuke the filling so it was hot enough - so easy.

Other stuff I like to make:

1. Home made pasta sauce with veggie crumbles (or ground turkey or spicy chicken sausage), sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, 2 cans of tomatoes, 1 can of tom paste. I make a big pot of this and it's easily enough for 4 nights. On the following nights, dinner is so easy, just heat up the sauce and boil 2 oz of whole wheat pasta - dinner in 10 minutes!

2. Big pan of roasted vegetables - quartered tomatoes, chopped red pepper, big slices of onions, garlic, cut up green beans, cubed sweet potatoes, sliced carrots, chopped, zucchini, can of drained chickpeas, brush with a little olive oil, roast until tender. I usually stir in a little spicy stir fry mix, this is great served over brown rice/quinoa or couscous. I also like to eat the leftovers in a wrap. The leftovers also make good side dishes for other nights.

3. Quesadillas - it's really easy to make a big batch of filling, then I just grill new quesadillas on leftover night. My two favorite fillings are spinach (low fat cream of mushroom soup, spinach, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, a little low fat cheese) and black bean/sweet potato (quinoa, can of tomatoes, cilantro, green chiles, black beans, sweet potato).

I also love stir fries! I usually have a bag of Trader Joe's shrimp stir fry in the freezer, I add a little more spicy sauce and some of my own vegetables and it's a quick easy meal when I am too tired to cook/don't have a lot of time. I also love making soup! White bean/kale and spinach/leek/chickpea are my 2 favorites.

YP1
02-10-2007, 05:01 AM
I live alone and almost everything I eat has been homemade. I don't eat it all at home, but I prepare it at home then eat elsewhere.

Friday - Sunday is my big cooking time. I tend to make at least 2 different soups over the weekend, if each serves 4 that means I eat 2 portions and freeze 6. I also make one "big" meal (4 portions or so), and a couple of "single serving" meals.

During the week I take a frozen pot of soup for lunch and reheat it at work. 5 days a week is pretty close to the 6 I usually freeze, and the excess helps me have a weekend off every now and again if I have something planned. Monday and Wednesday I go straight to running club from work, so I take one of the frozen main meals out with me.

Tuesday and Thursday it depends what I feel like. I might defrost something from the freezer, or make something quick and simple for just me, or I might make another batch of stuff up for freezing if I'm really inspired.

Over the year I've been doing this I've built up loads of variety in the freezer, so I have no reason for ever getting takeaway or ready meals because I know I can just defrost and cook something really easily. I also have a load of frozen veggies in there so even if I don't have any fresh veg in the house I can always cook some green beans or peas or something to have with whatever I reheat, or to use as ingredients in something else.

rabidstoat
02-10-2007, 09:07 AM
I'm another single person cooking for one. Sometimes I do refrigerate/freeze stuff, but for some reason I tend to not like frozen stuff reheated, I think it's psychological because I eat tons of prepackaged frozen foods. I also dislike eating something more than twice in a week, so not too many leftovers for me. Oh, an I don't really like cooking, but I like having cooked stuff to eat. I'm so picky! :)

For cooking, I do a lot of stir fries. I keep frozen bags of stir fry veggies in my freezer, and then by the precooked chicken (like Tyson's or whatever, forget the brand, there's a couple) to add to it. Or I'll buy some shrimp. Or, I keep frozen shrimp and Qorn (I think that's the spelling, 'fake' chicken) in the freezer too.

I also do fajitas. Sometimes I'll get fresh veggies. Sometimes I'll use frozen fajita veggies.

Fish is another 'one serving' meal for me. I'll either buy a fillet of tilapia and marinade, or I'll buy something from Whole Foods that's premarinaded or otherwise prepared.

I do a lot of frozen veggies that I steam. Or fresh salad-in-a-bag, get a spring mix and some tomatoes and I'm good to go. Or even those Green Giant veggies for ones. Sometimes I'll cook or steam up some fresh asparagus, broccoli, etc.

I also eat things like sandwiches for dinner. The deli near me is accustomed to me buying 3 ounces of turkey meat and a slice of deli cheese at a time. :) Or I'll get one of the 'premade' entrees they have, like a stuffed chicken breast or kebabs to cook, now and then.

Occasionally I'll make something more ambitious, that serves 4-6 people, and freeze. Like shrimp creole, I do that sometimes. Or something chicken-ish, since I buy like a pound of breasts at a time. But usually it's one skillet wonders.

Frozen foods, I do eat a lot of. I'll on rare occasion eat Healthy Choice, or sometimes a Lean Cuisine. Lately I've turned into something of a frozen food snob, as it drives me nuts when I can't read the label and understand what's in the food. I've been getting a lot of frozen meals at Whole Foods lately, and I especially love the Amy's vegetarian line. Kashi has some good stuff too. Unfortunately, these meals tend to be about twice as much as regular frozen food (close to five bucks), but I reason that even if I add a salad and some fruit to round it out, it's still cheaper than going out. Oh, and I'm working my way through the frozen pizzas available at Whole Foods as well. :)

Then I eat out some, usually fast food or chain restaurant takeout. I'll eat Applebee's (WW menu) or Chili's (Guiltless Grill) to go. Or I'll pick up a salad at one of the fast food places. Wendy's chili is something I crave in the winter. Or I'll get a grilled chicken sandwich. I love McD's french fries, too, but I've been craving them less lately so I don't get them much. Oh, and the soup-and-salad place near me sees me about once a month, it's about 8 or 9 bucks to do takeout, but I can make two meals out of it. Usually I add some shrimp or chicken from home to the salad.

Tara D
02-11-2007, 12:33 AM
I pretty much always eat at home...I eat out maybe once per month. When I eat at home or bring meals from home out, I can easily eat 3 meals a day for less than $5 per day. I like my food, so it doesn't seem worth it to pay $15 or more per day to buy meals. Currently, I cook dinner every day (I like my food cooked fresh if possible), but I gravitate to things that I can finish in about 30 minutes. I know what you mean about not wanting to feel like you're spending all day over the stove just for yourself. I'm currently on a chicken/rice/veggie meal kick, but in the past, I've done fajitas w/ fresh salsa, pasta, and broiled fish dishes, too. There are a lot of good meals that take very little time to cook. The other advantage is that you are in control of the nutrition!

Eating out frequently was the cause of my weight gain in the past, and even though I now eat only healthier items when I eat out, I'm sure that it would probably lead to a couple more pounds if I ate out consistently.