Home Alone for a Week, What To Cook For One?
My wife's out of town for a week and I'm left to fend for myself. I really like just about everything and have no dietary restrictions. I'd like something that doesn't take much more than an hour total to make as I'm usually pretty hungry when I get home and start to snack too much if I don't eat dinner soon enough. I'll be going shopping at Whole Food and Trader Joe's on Sunday so I'm hoping to get some recs so I can stock up on Sunday. I like to cook and shop for food, so I don't need super easy ideas, just something that makes sense for one.
The biggest challenge of solo cooking is using up what the recipe didn't call for!
Quick ideas are broiled fish or lamb chops, (broiled anything really) with steamed veggies & rice. Trader Joe's has lots of cut up veggie combos. Shrimp is super fast in stir fry, pastas or a shrimp boil. Whole Foods sells interesting sausages individually which can be added to quick pastas. The lamb sausages are great cooked with onions & tomatoes and stuffed in pitas with tzatziki sauce or combine with canned white beans, onion, garlic, broth & herbs & bake for a pseudo cassoulet. One roast chicken can spin off dozens of quick meals: enchiladas, pot pie (refrigerator rolls work for a topping), chix & yellow rice, stuffed shells... A walk through Trader Joe's is good for ideas since most of their products seem geared for fast/no fuss preparations and they seem to have recipes in the store that looked quick if memory serves. Hope this helps serve as a starting point!
I would make stuff my husband doesn't like to smell in the house, ie chicken liver pate, cabbage and bacon, etc. Shrimp stock. Or things he wouldn't approve of, like alfredo sauce. :)
I also love roasting vegetables or sweet potatoes, then you can concentrate on the protein while that's happening, chicken breast or thin-cut porkchop. Or do appetizers as dinner, like a cheese plate with good crackers and cut up apples and pears, grapes and olives.
Young man If You have a crock-pot, what I would do is get a sirloin or chuck roast and
some pkg of lipton dry onion soup mix, and while you are at work you can cook that
roast andit comes out so tender, just put the soup mix in with the roast and I add a
glass of water so I can make gravy with the roast. It takes about 2 minutes to put
together and beleave me when you open the door after work you will smell the aroma
ofthat cooked roast and you can feast on that. It will be big enough for more than one
meal and you can use that roast in alot of differeny ways, like in taco`s or cut up and clean out your refrigerator and make my refigerator soup of all the leftover for that week.
I'm with you - when the wife is away.... VINDALOO! She can't deal with the aromas, but I love it. Soon as she's out the door I pull my old stained Madhur Jaffrey from the shelf, go shopping and cook up three or four courses and I'm pretty good to go for the week. The meat dishes only get better by the second and third days and I can also bang out a dal or spinach/potato recipe. Amazingly versatile too if you're open minded... Indian is great in omelettes.
When I'm home alone I often cook things I like but that my husband doesn't much care for. Same for him if I'm away. This past spring I had to be out of town on our anniversary, so I picked up a package of liver and put it in a gift bag in the refrigerator with the instructions that he was to open it on our anniversary. (He loves liver, but I can't even stand the smell of it, so he doesn't get to have it when I'm around.)
Trader Joe's has an excellent flounder filet stuffed with crabmeat (look in the frozen food counter). You zap it for 30 seconds then bake it for 30 minutes. In Chicago it's $2.99. Pick up some frozen Chocolate Lava Cake, two portions for $2.69, zap for 45 seconds. If you want to get more ambitious, buy a bag of frozen artichoke-stuffed tortellini (I forget the price) and bag of frozen artichoke hearts. Cook the tortellini, zap the artichoke hearts, and toss together with olive oil and lemon juice---you can keep this in the refrigerator all week and dip into it, maybe just baking a chicken breast (on some foil so no cleanup) to go with it. There's also a bag of frozen Pasta Pepperonata that's not bad, just zap it.Their frozen green beans (tiny haricots verts imported from France) and frozen broccoli florets are a deal. Frozen Jasmine Rice will see you through three meals. How lucky you are to have a TJ's nearby, wonderful for solo eating.
I love to cook for other people, but solo meals just aren't motivating. If you're the same way, make a menu for the week (both to keep from wasting ingredients and to save yourself from the nasty pre-cooked stuff in the case at your local megamart) and focus on dishes that are super easy to prepare.
This is my favorite dinner for me, especially when fresh wild salmon is available (like now):
Start with a bottle of your favorite white wine. Pour yourself a glass. Have a sip.
Tear a piece of parchment paper off the roll. It should be about twice as long as it is wide. Center one half on a microwave-proof dinner plate.
Pile a cup or so of julienned veggies (carrots, celery, green beans, bell peppers, fennel, shallots, whatever) on the paper in the center of the plate.
Put a salmon filet (half a pound or so) on top of the veggies.
Salt and pepper the salmon to taste. Top with a some fresh citrus, a drizzle of olive oil, and a tablespoon or two of the wine.
Roll up the edges of the parchment paper and nuke the package for about 4 minutes. Open carefully (steam burns are nasty) and enjoy!
I don't want to sound totally obtuse here BUT...if you are going to TJ's...why not buy up 7 already prepared meals that TJ's sells in the refrigerated department? Totally fabulous...quality good...freeze the end of the week meals and take them out the morning of before leaving for work! After heating up...the only work necessary is popping the cork of some good wine!!
Thanks all for the quick replies. I'm a pretty big eater and those prepared meals usually just don't cut it for me. I'm always better off making something like the salmon, roast, or the lamb sausage mentioned above than buying a pre-packaged entree. I've also had bad luck with the prepared stuff at Whole Foods and the mega marts. The food always looks much better than it actually tastes and it's expensive! I got an awesome looking chocolate bread pudding from Whole Foods and after two bites pitched it because it was so blah.
If you have time on Sunday afternoon, roast yourself a small chicken with a few veggies. You can use the leftover chicken in chicken&gravy, have some of the breast meat on a sandwich for lunch or dinner, and make a great soup with the rest of the carcass. And there's nothing like the smell of roast chicken!
A dinner I like to make for myself when I'm alone is stuffed pita a la Trader Joe. They have dozens of spreads, bruschettas, dips, tapenades . . . you can spread one or two of them inside a pita, along with some cheese, arugula or spinach, and any other veggies or cold cuts you fancy, then warm the whole thing in a skillet for a couple minutes on each side, medium heat. Dining solo tonight myself, tonight's creation was roasted red pepper eggplant spread, artichoke tapenade, fontina cheese, and spring mix in a whole wheat pita.
Funny--I'm going to be home this week alone too. Well--sort of alone. Is till have DD to care for. I usually make things that DH does not care for---italian dishes that contain anchovies for example. But this week I'm keeping simple. I plan on making a roasted lamb shank for one courtesy of Nigella. Looks simple and decadent at the same time.
Just have fun.