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Cooking for single living

For all you single living folk out there,

When you're cooking for one, what do you cook?

I still have a soft spot for instant ramen but as I've matured, so has the ramen. I'm no longer satisfied with just straight ramen. In goes some tofu and dried black mushrooms. Or when I'm feeling frisky, some leftover roast pork and curry.

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  1. I have been cooking a lot of Chinese lately. Stir-fry is so easy to make for one and the possibilities are nearly endless. Just empty the fridge into the wok :-)

    1 Reply
    1. Yeah, I just did noodles tonight -- whole wheat noodles with spicy peanut sauce, peas, shrimp, chopped scrambled egg. And I still really really love those super spicy nong shim ramen from the Korean grocery down the street from me.

      I for sure do pancakes now and then, and other breakfast things. Pasta-based stuff, risotto... But I mostly cook "big" and then freeze things -- I take lunches to work, so I always use up leftovers.

      I'm generally terrible at cooking for one... unless it's poached eggs on top of cheese grits, and how bad can that be? :)

      1. Not leftover producing:
        Rib-eye steak with Sherried Mushrooms- whatever I don't finish goes in the sandwich for lunch the next day.
        Stir-fries over rice, absolutely. Usually I make them with skirt steak or boneless chicken thighs. Whatever's loose in the fridge will find its way in there.
        Lamb steaks -- I usually find them packaged singly in the supermarkets around here.
        Spaghetti carbonara.
        Western omelet.
        Mongolian Lamb with Scallions.
        Sesame Noodles.

        Leftover producing:
        Jacques Pepin's Crusty Chicken Thighs. It calls for four thighs, but you can scale it down and the method still works.
        Meatloaf, of course -- I love meatloaf sandwiches
        My new treat: Pork Tenderloin - makes two or three meals, depending on how hungry I am...and again, it makes a nice sandwich. :)

        1. I go back and forth between cooking something quick and simple -- pan-fried steak, poached eggs on a baked potato, stir fry, big salads -- and cooking something big like a big roast and then using the leftovers to make different meals through the week. I pack my lunch most days for work, so it's easier to get thru the leftovers.

          1. There are some good ideas in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5574...

            I also mainly cook for myself. I keep it simple. I like to make quesadillas, because they are quick and delicious. I also often will make one or two pieces of chicken or fish, a baked potato and vegetables.

            I don't do much different than if I were cooking for a group, just scale down recipes. I also make sure to put chicken, fish, etc. in single size portions when I bring them from the store. If a pack of chicken thighs comes with six, I place each of them in a separate freezer bag and use as needed.

            1. I don't have ramen as often as I used to but I also like to crack an egg into the hot broth. It gives the soups a lovely creamy texture

              2 Replies
              1. re: rtms

                Totally essential. I never eat ramen without it.

                1. re: rtms

                  I agree! Instead of breaking up the egg though, I lower the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes ... makes the white set and just barely cooks the yolk a bright golden

                2. I make the same thing I would make for more than one -
                  spaghetti & meat sauce
                  grilled shrimp
                  lemongrass beef & pilaf
                  steamed mussels
                  pan fried fish of all sorts
                  steak on the BBQ
                  skewered foods on the grill
                  all sorts of pastas with all sorts of sauces, veggies

                  I love leftovers that can be frozen for a quick dinner on another night.

                  1. Learn to embrace and be creative with leftovers.

                    Don't think of making a meal as "cooking for one". Make a full meal, save the rest and use them in creative ways to make another new meal.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I agree, but generally I downsize it a lot, and with a lot of recipes that's easy it just takes some practice if you are used to cooking for more (like myself)

                      I even do 2 slice lasagnas!

                    2. Other than eggs, I very rarely cook just a single portion of anything. It's usually 2-4 meals' worth, or even more in the case of casseroles, stews, and soups. Consolidating the time and effort is more productive, and buying larger amounts is usually cheaper. I freeze in portions most of the time, but I am not averse to having the same dinner 2-3 days in a row, either. The need to limit sodium precludes using many convenience foods like ramen noodles.

                      1. Since I'm vegetarian and my SO isn't, I cook for one each meal (2x!) - our proteins rarely overlap but we share the sides. He gets roasts, braises, stews, grills and I make my own 'wheat meat' variation of the same. I'll halve a recipe if I'm using it - makes for dinner and a lunch or two for each of us.

                        While I like ramen (umm - raw as a snack), I'd rather have the fat and it contains in something more interesting.

                        1. I was a bachelor until 2006, just prior to my 45 birthday (no point rushing into anything).

                          Cooking for myself, the wife and I, or a dinner party are all exactly the same, the only thing that changes... the quantity of ingredients needed to make a meal.

                          My advice, learn to cook and forget about who or how many you're cooking for.

                          Impeccable hygiene, grooming, manners and style only carry you so far.

                          The old saying the way to a mans heart... should be updated for the 21st century. These days I know more men that know how to cook than women.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Demented

                            Not only do Real Men Eat Quiche, they know how to cook it :-)

                            1. re: Demented

                              I was a bachelor-ette til I was 40 but that was in 1988! Wished I'd know all that stuff about style, etc. back then. I thought lookin' good was enough :)

                            2. I always cook enough for at least 2 meals, unless I am having a sandwich or eggs or something (which is often). Occasionally I make a big pot of beans, or a stew or soup and freeze portions, but more often, I just make enough for a couple of meals and nuke the leftovers. Also, I seldom have more than one item on my plate, so my creation most often will have veggies, starch and sometimes meat. Pasta is my friend, because I can use just about anything in the fridge with that. Quite often, I make a tortilla casserole, because I almost always have leftover tortillas in the freezer, plus some kind of sauce. So, I layer tortillas, sauce, veggies, cheese, maybe some chorizo if I have it, or leftover chicken. Bake it in the toaster oven. I love to cook for other people, but when eating alone I definitely keep it simple. Here in Mexico, the big meal is mid-day, so when I go out for comida, I don't need much more at night than a little snack. When I do fix myself a real dinner, it is because I didn't have lunch!

                              1. I often use cooking for one as an excuse to splurge- maybe someting that might be pretty pricey to cook for a crowd. I beautiful tuna steak or something like that. last week, I picked up some scallops for myself. Often though, I will make something big so I have leftovers, roast chicken is a favorite for me and I love the leftovers.