Cooking for One

I have been living on my own for almost five years now. I enjoy the freedom not having roommates gives me, and I must say that even having a boyfriend who lives in another city is a blessing when it comes to be time to cook dinner.

Previously, I had lived with people who were fairly conservative in what they liked to eat. When we cooked and ate together, we had to keep things to a dish they would like. And so, in the past five years I have been excitedly taking advantage of the opportunity of complete freedom to eat whatever I want; I have tried many a food that I never would have tried before - quinoa, tofu, veal, polenta, bok choy, etc. - and have fallen in love with each of them.

While having the ability to experiment with food is one of the best possible things about living alone, it can sometimes be quite frustrating to cook for just one person all the time. One of the hardest parts is finding a cookbook (or ten) that has more than one single-serving recipe that still manages to make really yummy food. For the most part, the ones I’ve tried that are supposed to be single-portions either make enough food for two meals (and I do not eat small portions) or just don’t have recipes that are really appealing to me.

Even when I’m not following a recipe, I have a tendency to make at least double what I can eat in one sitting. (You’d think this wouldn’t still be happening after five years!) Which is great when I don’t have something already planned to bring to work for lunch the next day, but when it’s the night before leaving town for a long weekend, or when the experimentation turns out inedible (like my unsuccessful attempt at miso soup a couple of weeks ago) then I just end up wasting so much food.

One thing I have managed to do, however is perfect the art of cooking for the freezer. I make a large portion of soup almost every other week, and freeze all the leftovers in single-serving sizes - perfect for lunch works during the autumn, winter or spring! I also make a lot of sauces or meat dishes and freeze them to use another time - again usually saved in single serving sizes. I’ve learned that anything with potatoes in it (including pureed soups) end up with a very starchy texture after freezing, and so no longer attempt that. And only some dishes with pasta in them work well after thawing (lasange = awesome, minestrone soup = soggy noodles!).

This year, I am working on reducing the amount of food I make for each meal. I’ve started making notes in my cookbooks about how big the serving sizes really are. I also use MacGourmet as my recipe box, and find it really useful for adding notes to. Hopefully as the year goes on, I’ll get better at cooking for one.

What about you? Do you ever have to cook for one person? How do you work with making the right amount of food in those cases?


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