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).
one of my favorite simple meals is bibim gooksoo (korean cold noodles). cook a bunch of asian angel hair pasta until tender and then rinse under cold water until the noodles are very cold. mix soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, finely chopped red pepper, hot chile flakes, and sesame seeds. pour a bit of this on top of the noodles, mix and enjoy. goes great with kimchee.
for a fancier, spicier, vinegary version, check out this recipe:
I am loving this thread! So many good ideas... where can I find the Mousse Trouffee? sounds insanely good & easy.
Many of my go-to's have already been covered (omelette, scrambled eggs with cheese, baked potato, etc), but some other things I make all the time:
- roasted veggies (EVOO, salt, pepper, truffle oil + beets/ cauliflower/ brussel sprout leaves/ sweet potatoes/ anything!). These take a while to roast but are so so easy, you can throw them in right when you get home and veg for 40 minutes until they're ready.
- fresh hummus (throw chickpeas, basil, parsley, evoo in a food processor) with crackers
- kitchen sink orzo (great with toasted pine nuts or walnuts and dried cranberries with asst'd fresh herbs & lemon/orange zest, some goat cheese, whatever you have lying around!)
- quick polenta with a poached egg, possibly some melted or shaved cheese
I like to cook dinners that are quick and tasty. Here's my last week of eats:
Seared buffalo sirloin with sauteed rainbow chard and sliced baked sweet potatoes that had been sauteed in butter & maple syrup.
Baked shad over sauteed bok choy and a baked sweet potato.
Pan fried cod over wilted savoy cabbage in a soy, wasabi, sugar, crushed ginger, sake, fish sauce, olive oil and water dressing.
Braised chicken thigh over sake-braised fennel & onions.
Two weeks ago I made Zuni's roast chicken on a Sunday night so I had cooked protein for the rest of the week after having deboned and made stock as well. I was a little sick of chicken by Friday, but it made my meal prepartations fly.
On Sunday or Monday nights I like to make a stew or a soup, divided into pints to shove into the freezer. This week: lamb & lentil stew, made with tomato juice, crushed tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, eggplant, carrots, onions and garlic. I also have some frozen pints of cheese tortellini, watercress, carrot, celery and chicken soup as well as chorizo, spinach, and sweet potato soup. Having pints of frozen soup on hand in the winter is a time saver as I can always just reach in and have a quick lunch or dinner at my fingertips.
When I'm feeling lazy, I scramble up some eggs, sautee plum tomatoes with herbs and toast some bread.
When I'm feeling incredibly lazy, it's cheese, cured meats or pates, crudite, olives and crackers for me.
Keep reporting back on what you're having!
Well, I tried for dinner last night the D'Artagnan "Mousse Truffee" , consisting of chicken and turkey livers, duck fat and truffles. Heaven. A green salad, two Finn Crisps smeared with the pate and a glass of Bordeaux. A step up indeed from my prior "I'm exhausted" dinner of Lean Cuisine, and probably not many more calories.
Generally I lean towards making a batch and freezing for reheating later but this past week I've made Jamie Oliver's Roasted Chicken breasts and they've been perfect for one. Rather than cooking a whole chicken, buy split breasts w/ the bone it and treat those as you would a whole chicken, and roast in a hot oven for 25-35mins. I lined the the dish w/ aluminium foil so there was no clean up! Here's the link:
I did this one and i've tried the one w/ lemony potatoes - sooo good and easy! Served w/ a side of vege or salad.
Fresh fish is is very easy and quick to cook and it's also a healthy dinner. I like Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper seasoning which is salt free, goes very well on a lot of fish. Recently I've done cornmeal crusted catfish. Just take some catfish, roll it around in some cornmeal, and pan fry it in a few tablespoons of oil. Takes roughly 5 minutes per side. I also like to toss in some diced up jalapeno in the last few minutes. Hate to admit it but some of Emeril's original seasoning tastes great on top though I'm sure a bit of paprika or chili powder would be a nice touch too.
Salmon and pretty much any white fish do well with the lemon pepper seasoning. Our favorite is Turbot when we can find it. Again I just cook this fish on the stove top with a tablespoon or so of oil for about 5 min. on each side. You can also broil the fish.
Quick quesadillas: Cook up some chicken with taco seasoning, we've been using Penzey's chicken taco seasoning. Place the cooked chick on a flout tortilla, add in your favorite veggies, we like onions and pepper, some cheese. Put the other tortilla on top and bake in the oven on a stone (cookie sheet would work fine) for 12-16 minutes at 350.
Tacos, we've been using lettuce wraps instead of taco shells to change things up a bit.
I like to marinate raw peeled or shell on but split and de-veined shrimp and then cook them for dinner. I can't find my marinade recipe now but I'm sure there are plenty out there. These take all of 8 minutes to cook.
A nicely broiled steak makes an easy dinner.
Homemade hummus makes a nice snack and freezes well if you make a big batch. http://www.recipezaar.com/90086
I've been making crepes a lot for sunday brunch. You can go sweet or savory and that gives you a ton of options. My personal favorite is bananas with some brown sugar. You can half this recipe with no negative effects.
When I come home tired from work and want something easy and tasty, I often make an omlette. Eggs, cheese and ham all keep well and are easy to have on hand.
I feel your pain with produce. What I've started to do is making a salad with avocado, tomato and onion, all of which keep much better than lettuce. Another lettuce-less salad that's easy and tasty is to make a combo of cucumbers, hearts of palm, tomato, avocado and green onion, dressed with seasoned rice wine vinegar and oil.
For a quick and easy meal for one, it's hard to beat ramen. You can doctor it up with an egg, scallions and other veggies you have on hand to make it more of a "well-rounded" meal.
I also concur with those who have suggested making larger portions of things like stews and soups, and freezing in single serving containers. Right now, I've got beef stew, turkey soup, chicken chile verde, pea soup, bean soup and red chicken chile in my freezer for those nights when I don't want to cook, but still want to eat something tasty.
Finally, pasta is always good for a quick meal for one.
Here are some easy favorites with maybe a day of leftovers...
Sauteed scallops: Chop a shallot or small onion, saute in a pan with a little bit of olive oil until golden, add some white wine, then throw in some large scallops (fresh or frozen). Serve with the side of your choice (eg arugula + linguine + lemon, rice + lemon + broccoli, or steamed vegetables + lemon + parsley).
Egg omelette--can be done with whole eggs or combination of egg whites + whole eggs. Some fillings--straw mushrooms and thinly sliced white onion, brie + topped with truffle oil, ortega green chile +sharp cheddar + hot sauce). Serve with side of your choice--baguette, toasted whole wheat bread, mesclun, or corn tortillas.
Caulilflower au gratin: mix some chopped cauliflower in a baking dish with some salt, a dash of hot sauce, a few spoonfuls of low fat sour cream, and top with some grated sharp cheddar (can get reduced fat) or parmesan. Bake until cheese is bubbly. May want to serve with a protein (eg baked tofu, scrambled egg whites).
Roasted eggplant: Roast two halves of an eggplant on an olive-oiled sheet with slivers of garlic tucked into the eggplant for ~45 minutes at 350. Scoop out eggplant and mash with lemon juice, and tahini. Add mint for garnish. Serve with toasted pita or basmati rice pilaf and cut up cucumber.
Tuna salad--mix canned tuna with lemon juice, pepper, kalamata olives, chopped red onion, capers, and some artichoke hearts or roasted red peppers. Serve with crackers.
"Sushi" rolls: make some brown or short grain rice. Add vinegar +salt+sugar if you are not feeling too lazy. Roll in seaweed with different fillings: tofu +spicy sauce (sriracha+mayo), smoked salmon+ avocado, tofu+cucumber+ume paste.
Fried rice: Saute an chopped onion, sliced mushrooms and some chopped garlic with meat of your choice (leftover chicken, ham, or tofu cubes), toss in some jasmine rice, season with fish sauce (nuoc mam) and scramble in an egg. Finish with some sliced green onion and/or peas.
Finally, toasted good bread and cheese rubbed with garlic and topped with a slice of ham or tomato is always delicious.
I vote for ochazuke!
I prefer to purchase pre-cooked/pre-made rice you stick in the microwave (yes, it's anti-CH). The more CH version is to cook a bunch of rice and freeze single serving sized portions.
My pre-MrOCAnn days, I'd usually make popcorn for dinner. Or have a beer. Or have dinner on dates. I didn't eat too much back then...so a Costco purchase of something frozen would last me about 2+ months.
Thanks everybody for these great suggestions. I also did a search on this Board for both "quick" and "easy" and came up with additional suggestions.
Yumyumyogi,I suspect that your "dire emergency" dinner of Pacific brand Organic creamed tomato soup with a side of Parmesan is going to become a staple for me on week nights!.
I also picked up some D'Artagnan "Mousse Truffee" today, consisting of chicken and turkey livers, duck fat and truffles. If it is as good as it sounds (I will report back), I suspect that a slice of that, together with some vegetables, is going to become another staple.
I also managed to concoct a dinner tonight that was fairly quick and pretty tasty. I dredged some tiliapia in egg (with a little salt and pepper thrown in) and then in almond flour that I bought in the refrigerator section of my local "gourmet" store. I then heated a combination of olive oil and butter in a cast iron pan and cooked each side of the fish until done. Then I deglazed the pan by squeezing half a lemon in it and then poured the lemon glaze over the fish and some green beans that I had boiled. It was tasty - it was the lemon that really made the dish and squeezing a lemon was pretty easy, even for the time and cooking challenged like me.
I had the leftover tilapia for breakfast, and I have to say that this recipe definitely does not benefit from leftovers. The real charm of the recipe was the crisp almond crust and the piping hot lemon deglaze, all of which was lost when reheated. If I make this again, I will buy only enough fish for one serving.
Lunch was more satisfying. I had bought a D'Artagnan Duck "Confit" in the refrigerator section of the local gourmet market. This is a precooked duck leg. I reheated it in a skillet - no oil needed since the duck skin provides plenty of fat. I then took the skin off and shredded the duck into a salad. Tasty and more exciting than the deli meat chicken that I will often put into a main course lunch salad.
fish is so easy... i buy a large filet, then portion it out raw and freeze individually sealed portions. i'll throw a filet in the fridge to defrost during the day, then cook it up when i get home... blacken and broil, or fish in parchment, or wrap in seasoned zucchini strips and pan fry... the options are endless.
tuna melts are easy
blintzes or crepes are easy and pre portionable... you can even freeze crepes ahead of time or buy the premade ones.
bake up a spaghetti squash, split and strip, then toss strips with garlic oil and parm
freeze some of your favorite freezer friendly pasta sauces in ice cube trays then use as needed
keep turkey or beef/pork meatballs on hand in the freezer to make sloppy joes or top pasta or eat with a fork
couscous, quinoa, barley, lentil salads are so easy and will be even more refreshing come springtime
mini pizzas (buy and freeze portions of TJ's dough)
if you happen to have time to stop at the store, the salad bar is great for picking up small amounts of prepped ingredients to use in recipes, or to avoid having heads or stalks left over if you don't plan on using them rght away
you might also do some menu planning on sundays or weekends, so that you can anticipate what meals will create leftovers to be reused differently in future meals... plan compatability and diversity!
I'm in your same situation, and I have a couple of comments/ideas:
- mmm tilapia. I broiled some last week and topped it with brown butter and slivered almonds. maybe the easiest and quickest thing ever.
- D'Artagnan: there's a little French place on my block that serves nice slabs of pate on poilane, with a little mesclun salad. I feel like that's a totally legit meal for one.
- the roasted vegetables: I roasted sweet potato, jerusalem artichokes, beets, and parsnips with onions and sage. after I got tired of eating them in solid form, I pureed with some beef stock and made into soup. topped that with a little crumbled stilton...it was a beautiful thing.
Omotosando, I'm not sure what kind of food you enjoy eating, but I'll share some ideas for quick weeknight meals, then give you a list of staples I keep on hand. Good luck and happy eating for one!
I agree with Kagey. Winter is a great time for single home cooks because the vegetables that are in season tend to last a long time - root vegetables and hearty greens such as squash (you can buy pre-cut in some places), celery root, parsnip, kale, fennel, brussels sprouts… the list goes on. Chop up a bunch during the weekend and roast them with some olive oil, garlic and salt during the week.
Here’s a recipe for a warm lentil salad that works well as meals for one: http://orangette.blogspot.com/2007/05/spring-clean.html
The main ingredients to make it good are the lentils, red wine vinegar, olive oil, carrots, onions and celery and garlic – cheap and hearty ingredients that you’ll mostly have on hand. You can have this over a bed of shaved fennel and/or arugula, And if you feel it’s lacking something, top it with a poached egg and a sprinkle of sea salt.
When I’m feeling really lazy, I pick up just a nice chunk of cheese and have just that with some drizzled honey, nuts, and some fresh or dried fruit. Then a few pieces of dark chocolate for dessert.
In dire emergencies, I break open a box of Pacific brand Organic creamed tomato soup (they come in small sizes). I add half a bay leaf while heating it, then drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it before eating. I slice up some Parmesan to nibble on the side with some bread and good butter.
With everything, I try to go for nutrition-packed foods to get the most bang for my buck and labor. If you can afford it, invest in the best ingredients and you’ll create more satisfying meals overall.
STORED IN MASON JARS:
Beluga and French green lentils (versatile and nutritious
)Whole wheat cous cous
An assortment of of different rice (brown, white, basmati, black)
Crushed organic tomatoes (would rather have whole, but this saves time)
Beans, especially cannelli for soups and ragouts
Organic vegetable and chicken broth (you can buy them in tiny 4-packs)
CONDIMENTS AND SUCH:
Good extra-virgin olive oil (for salads and drizzling)
Decent olive oil and canola oil (for cooking)
Good balsamic vinegar
Good red wine vinegar
Fine and course sea salt
Other spices, depending on your cuisine preference. In the beginning, you may find yourself buying a different spice every time you create a new dish, but it's well worth the investment.
At least 5 onions per week
3 shallots per week (I pick the smallest ones)
Head of garlic
IN THE FRIDGE:
Good dijon mustard (mostly for dressings)
6-pack of eggs
Organic unsalted butter
Parmesan and Gruyere cheese
Nuts (almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts)
Dried fruits (bing cherries, good raisins)
Greek yogurt (for breakfast with muesli or for garnish)
IN THE FREEZER:
Ginger in sliced and grated form (they keep forever frozen)
AND FINALLY SOME NEAT TIPS AND TRICKS:
A sous chef I know told me a trick for boiling water quickly: freeze the water at boiling point. The heated properties of H2O will remain intact, and the frozen water will boil much faster than water from room temperature.
I recently discovered mushroom duxelles – a way to use up pathetic-looking mushrooms in your fridge. It’s so simple to make, will keep forever in your freezer, and will add a boost of flavor to anything you eat: http://undercovercook.blogspot.com/20...
That salad looks great-- I often have something like this on hand as well (it's very versatile-- can mix with greens for a light meal, potatoes or rice or pasta for a more substantial meal)
I have to dissent on the boiling water issue, though. Although this idea doesn't make much intuitive sense (the cold water has to pass through room temperature on the way to boiling, after all), but I seems to get some plausibility because of the hidden variable of the air content of the water. (In which case all that would be important is having boiled the water first--freezing it would probably not help further) Anyway, if you google around, you'll find various results showing that if previous boiling helps at all, the difference is negligible.
That said, since waiting for a pot of water to boil *can* be a pain when you get home and it's late and time to eat and get on with things, I have a less drastic tip: draw your pot of water (cold, to avoid any potential metals that leech from pipes into warm water) the night before or in the morning, so that it's room temperature and you can turn it on the minute you walk in the door. By the time you get organized, check the answering machine, etc., it will be on its way.
I agree with all the great ideas that have been shared thus far. For one dish meals, I like rice or pasta with veggies (frozen are just fine) and meat (or meatless). Omelets and egg dishes are easy to make, too. When I have some time, I make soups and freeze them. They keep well for several months. Martha Stewart's Every Day Food Magazine has a section devoted to meals for one. You might want to check out the latest issue and see what you think. The recipes are always new and they look delicious. Here is a recipe I've concocted for those times when everyone in my family is off doing something at dinner hour and I need to make something good for myself.
1/2 cup uncooked jasmati rice (cook in one cup water for 18-20 minutes) or pasta of your choice, about 1 cup uncooked. Follow package directions for how long to cook pasta.
In a saute or fry pan, heat up 2-3 tbsps olive oil. If using meat or chicken, sautee until cooked through. If I'm in the mood for meat/chicken and it's frozen, I quick defrost in the microwave. Add 3/4 cup canned chicken broth, 1/2 cup of your favorite jar pasta sauce, some butter or margarine to taste. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder (or fresh garlic). If you have fresh parsely, throw that in as well. Go to your freezer and see what kind of frozen veggies you have on hand. I keep frozen peas, corn, mixed veggies, broccoli, spinach (I replenish as needed). There are some nice veggie blends at Whole Foods and Trader's Joe's. Throw in what you like. Cook all for 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice or pasta and voila! An easy dinner that tastes good and is good for you.
To avoid leftovers, make a batch of something over the weekend. Have it in the frig for one meal later that week and freeze the rest. Just try one recipe each weekend, but make enough to freeze. Package each in single serve portions. Over time, you will build up a repertoire in your freezer and can come home and choose whatever you feel like eating from your gourmet "frozen dinner" selection.
Some examples I have in my freezer:
Beef stew (potatoes don't seem to freeze well for me, so I make mine minus potatoes and then microwave potatoes and mash them to serve along side),
Roasted red pepper soup
Stone crab bisque
Chicken pot pie filling (microwave to thaw, place into dish with pie dough - fast to whip up, or use refrigerated from grocery store)
Moroccan stew (cous cous is very fast to whip up and serve along side)
Indian chickpeas masala, chicken tika masala, and vegetable korma (cook rice fresh to serve with it)
I dont have this at the moment, but lasagna (think of regular, as well as butternut squash lasanga and portobella mushroom) and meatballs in sauce or sphagetti or frozen wild mushroom ravioli or lobster ravioli are all options that survive the freezer well.
I always keep salad ingredients on hand - bagged baby greens or spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers already cut up (done over the weekend). I love Girard's brand bottled dressings or I make my own vinaigarette and it will keep find for several days in the frig.
Then for quickie fresh meals -
Pan sautee a filet of fish or chicken breast, then sautee canned artichokes, fresh basil, and sundried tomatoes together, add in a bit of cream and a squeeze of lemon juice and pour sauce over fish. Or make a quick sauce of diced fresh tomatoes, garlic, olives, fesh basil and pour over top.
Quickly broil a steak tenderloin, microwave a potato, and serve with a ceasar salad (lettuce, croutons, parm cheese, use bottled dressing - we're going for quick here!)
Scallops wrapped in bacon cook quickly from frozen. Serve over a salad of baby greens.
If you have a slow cooker, you can dump in a roast in the morning, and then come home to a warm dinner.
As a 'hound I would argue you don't have to go to a 4 star restaurant to eat well. Think: ethnic. For example there's a fantastic Mexican grocery near me where a woman cooks on a regular stove and makes dynamite tamales and tacos. Man are they good, and cheap! There's also a Dominican restaurant where the woman cooks and the husband serves. Pork to die for!
I'm with you however in avoiding mediocre restaurants and cook alot at home.
If you don't want lots of leftovers, vegetables don't keep, and going to the supermarket after work is out, that's a pretty tall order! Could you go to the supermarket during lunchtime a couple of times a week?
A well-stocked kitchen and pantry are key to easy, quick after-work meals. First, decide what kinds of things you like to eat (no sense in stocking up on stuff you won't eat). Then make sure you always have necessary items on hand, e.g., spices, canned tomatoes and beans (if you can't remember/can't be bothered to soak), onions, garlic, ginger, eggs, lentils, herbs, etc. Root vegetables, which are now in season, stay edible longer in the fridge than leafy vegs.
Lentil soup is a quick and easy dish, even quicker if you use red lentils. You can do lots of pasta dishes in the time it takes you to boil the water and finish cooking the pasta. A steak, chop, or filet of fish cooks very quickly and goes nicely with a side of mashed or dressed beans and salad leaves. And when you make something you really like, make enough to freeze, then defrost for those evenings when you just don't have the energy to do anything else.
Finally, I always suggest that people look at Nigella Lawson's How to Eat book. There's so much info in there, and very good sections on quick meals and cooking for one or two people. Her Nigella Express is all about quick cooking, but I'm slightly dubious after having watched about 3 episodes. But her recipe in that show for white bean mash (she served it with steak, I think) has become a favorite in my house. So quick and we absolutely love it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.