Recipes and resources for smaller batches
Cooking for 1 or 2
by Dollar Stretcher Contributors
Cooking for One
Cooking for 1 or 2: Spice Up Your Meal Life!
Buying for One
Cooking for 1 or 2
I usually need recipes for less than four servings since I am only feeding two, but sometimes I want a recipe that would be perfect for one. I am sure there are people who are single or feed one or two people and find that many recipes are too large for them, so let's share some here.
Check Out Cookbooks at Library
The library has a number of cookbooks that provide recipes for one or two people. My other suggestion would be to prepare the full-size recipe, whether of chili, meatloaf, etc., and then freeze the extras for the days when you don't have the time or inclination to cook. That has been a blessing to me on many days when I am hungry and lack the time to prepare a meal.
Divide and Conquer
When we became "empty nesters," I had a problem with cooking too large! My Mom gave me an answer.
Buy small glass casserole pans at garage sales, thrift stores, etc. When making a meal, make the "normal" amount and split as far as it will go into one- and two-serving dishes. My hubby works occasional nights and the singles get used when he's away. I pull out a two-serving dish for both of us.
It's so nice to have an assortment in the freezer. After adding veggies, bread, and fruit, supper is served.
I do have a warning. When heating up a cold (or frozen) glass dish, be sure to put it into cold oven and then turn on oven. Suddenly placing a frozen glass dish into a hot oven will break the dish.
Website Makes It Easy
Allrecipes.com is a website with thousands of recipes that have been made and reviewed. You can change the recipe to feed two, and it automatically adjusts the recipe for you. I love this site and use it all the time.
Save on Lunches as Well
When cooking for 1 or 2, I rarely only cook that amount. I use the leftovers for work lunches the next day. Most recipes are written for 4 servings, which works out nicely for me and my boyfriend to have dinner and a lunch or two for me for that week. I also invested in a small freezer. I live in a rather small apartment, but I've still managed to make room for it. I keep my microwave on top of it, so it does double-duty. It's great for freezer-friendly recipes that make a lot of volume like batches of soup or chili that I can save for later.
I am cooking for two these days after years of not having to cook at all (my husband was the chef, but his health doesn't allow him to do it anymore). Since I also work full time, the time-saving and frugal thing to do is to prepare any recipe and then freeze the extra portions. I made a pot of chili today, and after a delicious meal, we have enough for tomorrow's lunch and two more meals in the freezer.
You can also cook something one day, and re-purpose the leftovers the next. I cooked one pound of London broil on the grill last night for dinner and then chopped up about 1/2 pound of it to add to 1/2 pound of hamburger to make today's pot of chili. You can turn leftover spaghetti sauce into hot dog chili just by adding some spices. Leftover chicken can go into soup or slice it for sandwiches or make chicken salad. My favorite thing to do with leftover chicken is to make enchiladas with it. Even a small meatloaf makes enough for great sandwiches the next day and what's left freezes great. You not only save time, but have back up meals for when you're sick or just tired.
Using square containers uses your freezer space better, or things like spaghetti sauce can be frozen in zipper bags. I went ahead and chopped the entire onion today and then spread the leftovers out on a plate in the freezer and bagged up the frozen pieces to use when I make spaghetti the next time.
When I was single, I used a divided plastic container to create TV dinners from the leftovers when I cooked. I usually took those to work for lunch, but they froze well, too.
Cook Once, Eat All Week
I've lived alone for 15 years. I've come across some recipes I enjoy that freeze well. I cook the entire recipe, usually four servings, and eat leftovers once or twice. When I'm tired of the dish, I freeze the other serving. These meals make nice TV dinners for work, seasoned to my liking and not loaded up with fillers like rice or pasta.
Another approach is to cook up a package of beef, chicken, turkey, pork chops, etc. on the weekend. Throughout the week, you can have fajitas, stir fry, pulled pork sandwiches, etc. with the cooked meats with only minimal cooking of vegetable extras.
Take the Next Step:
- For more on Cooking for 1 or 2 or to share your own ideas, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Community.
- Subscribe to our weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter. Each issue of this free html newsletter features tips and articles to help you stretch your dollar and survive in this challenging economy.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor: Click Here
Also in Food & Groceries
- Grocery items you can find on sale in April
- Decorating Easter eggs naturally
- DIY pizzas better than delivery
- How to keep food fresh longer
- Finding healthy cheap eats
- Make your own dried meats
- Cleaning stove top burners