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Simple Delicious Meals For One

After one more mediocre restaurant meal with mediocre ingredients, I have vowed never to dine out again unless it is in a 4-star restaurant, which will not be an everyday occurrence for me. In other words, I have decided to start cooking for myself.

I have gotten out of the cooking habit out of a combination of laziness and lack of time, including the fact that my refrigerator seems to kill produce within one day or two at most, and the last thing I want to do after work is go to the supermarket.

Since I will be starting in baby steps, give me your easiest most delicious meal ideas. Cooking for one, but leftovers are okay for the next day (although I don't necessarily want days and days of leftovers).

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  1. Is the freezer compartment of your refrigerator working in the manner it was intended? If so, I suggest that you cook enough of one dish for several meals and freezer them so that you are not dining on the same dish on consecutive days. That's what I do with chili when I make it using 5 pounds of diced beef roast. The makes about 6 individual servings. My wife does not care for chili, especially mine because of its fierce heat intensity; therefore I make a big batch so that it is handy whenever I need a chili fix.

    Cooking a large amount of a single recipe on a weekend can be done so that one does not have to start from scratch after coming home from work.

    Stews freeze well and there are loads of recipes for stews. Pasta dishes keep well for a couple of days. My wife grew up in a family that had pasta on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday...all made fresh on the Sunday before other 2 days of the week. I'm not suggesting that you use the same routine, just citing an example.

    Frittatas can be made that would serve as 2 meals...depending on how large a frittata is made. A salad of greens goes well with a frittata.

    Good luck with your quest.

    1. It will help if you go to stores where you can order just one or two chicken breasts or a single serve size portion of steak from the meat counter, rather than buying a huge pack. Also, seek out markets where you can buy a single carrot or squash, without buying a whole bag. (Whole foods is good for this, as well as other smaller gournet grocers).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mellicita

        I cook for myself all the time and agree with what was said above. I also freeze individual packs of chicken, pork tenderloin, hamburgers etc. that I can cook quickly, plus I keep on hand ingredients that hold up well - onions and shallots, celery and carrots, cheese, eggs, frozen peas etc plus various cans of beans and tomato products (diced, paste ina tube, Parmalot chopped) and a good pasta sauce plus pasta of various sorts. That way I can pull something from the freezer or make a quick meal if I feel like cooking.

      2. The other ideas are very good. Here is the simplest good meal I know. Bake a potato at 450 deg. Pull it from the oven, salt it and dress it with a little butter and top it with something you love. If you bake 2 potatoes at the same time, you can have the second at another meal, either reheated in the microwave or sliced for some version of potato salad.

        Here is another simple meal: take 2 eggs and make yourself an omelet. Put cheese in it before folding. Serve with a hard roll, salad, and fruit or cookies for dessert.

        Here is another idea: Boil a couple of potatoes on the stove. Broil a pork chop in your oven's broiler. Get it browned and crisp. Mash cooked potatoes and serve with chop, sauteed cherry tomatoes and any fruit salad you love. Have cookies for dessert.

        On the weekend you could make cookies and portion them out for desserts for the following week.

        Have fun.

        6 Replies
        1. re: sueatmo

          Yeah, a potato is one of my fallback meals as well, although I microwave mine (it turns out well if you do it correctly, i.e. don't overcook it and let it rest).

          The other thing that's great for quick, simple meals is sausage. There are so many brands of gourmet sausages in a range of flavors, they're inexpensive, and you can use them over a few days or use one or two and throw the rest in the freezer (your butcher/meat counter/deli might even have them individually). You can eat them plain, or slice or dice them and sautee them with onions, peppers, or just about any other veggies. Then stuff the mixture into your potato or toss with some pasta. Voila! Tasty dinner in ten minutes.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            We have discovered that we like microwaved potatoes pretty well. I micro'd one tonight to use in a salad with chopped tomato. But for supper on a cold night, I like to bake a potato in the oven on hight heat. I also like large ones split in two and baked until the tops are browned. And I also like wedges baked until crisp. Season them with olive oil and salt before baking. Very good.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Sweet potatoes (yams) baked in the microwave are really indestinguishable from those baked in the oven. They pair especially well with all kinds of black bean concoctions, but also with anything savory to contrast with their sweet. Or just with some yogurt or sour cream and whatever condiments suit your fancy, like ordinary baked potatoes.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Grated parmesan is delicious on sweet potatoes.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Sweet potatoes in the microwave keep me alive. I actually think they do taste better in blistered, oven-roasted wedge glory, but, honestly, three minutes versus forty five minutes plus chopping....black beans are great, but also salsa and good shredded cheddar cheese (or a blend), with cumin and oregano and cilantro sprinkled on top. Or just plain with cinnamon and chili powder and a dash of sea salt. Or mixed with hummus. If you have great condiments, potatoes are a brilliant blank slate!

                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Even better... nuke in the micro til cooked through, but then crisp the skin in the toaster!

                  Maybe it's too pedestrian, but potato skin filled with wild mushrooms, caramelized onions and gruyere? Yessiree.

                  I also love to scoop out the flesh, sprinkle skins w/ a little cheddar/jack (the soy brand at tj's is yummy), then toast and fill w/ cottage cheese and salsa... good protein and satisfying

                  I like my sweet potatoes or yams w/ cinnamon and salt. Or, lime juice. Though honestly, I prefer butternut squash to sweet pots or yams.

              2. When I can't decide what to make (we don't eat LARGE but we love variety) - I go to allrecipes.com and browse - it loads faster than epicurious and isn't as annoying a website as others that come up when you google key words.

                Keeping a good pantry REALLY helps- I buy tons of canned beans (not sure why but we always end up using them!!), dried pasta, canned tomatoes (crushed, etc) - roasted bell peppers, olive oil
                we have a big upright deep freezer that I keep loaded with vac-sealed small sized portioned out meat. Also try to get to the farmers market for fresh veg- seems to keep longer to me. I always have garlic, onions and for some odd reason eggs and tortilla shells (the small ones) - I could go on but I'll stop there, I think you get me. (And I didn't even mention condiments!!)

                Tonight's dinner- took 2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into big chunks. Salt and pepper. Got a frying pan rather hot with some olive oil and a small pat of butter, cooked a little onion until soft then browned the chicken, threw in several cloves crushed garlic, turned chicken, added broth, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, a bay leaf and some tyme. Cover the pot, cook med for 10 min. Uncover, pull out chicken. Reduce sauce, throw chicken back in. We loved it.
                (original rec called for pound of mushrooms but I didn't have any so I used the onion for moisture/flavor) You can serve it with whatever makes you smile.

                1. Get some green evert-fresh produce bags; my produce lasts AT LEAST twice as long in these. You can wash and reuse them many times.