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Seven Day Sample recipe for singles / students


I guess it's hard to cook for oneself because one has to balance portion, taste and health.

I always cook too much and leave tons of waste if the cooking doesn't turn out right.

I wonder if anyone has suggestions for a weekly recipe that is simple (under an hour with few ingredients) and healthy.....

Thanks !!!

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  1. You didn't mention economy as a motivation in cooking for oneself. But I suppose that there would be no harm in considering frugality. Several years ago a SF Bay Area chowhounder named rworange experimented on how a person could eat well with meals prepared at home on a budget of $3/day. She chose that budget because, for someone receiving food stamps, that was what the benefit was worth then.

    She started a number of threads where she posted results and observations about her month-long experiment along with sample menus and recipes. Her conclusion was eating well on $3/day is entirely possible. She spent some time seeking out bargain deals on good quality ingredients. She acknowledged that she does not particularly enjoy cooking and lacks patience for time consuming recipes.


    I also cook for one from scratch most of the time but I'm not on such a meager budget. I usually end up with leftovers going into the fridge but that's something I don't mind at all.

    1. Here's one I do frequently in my toaster oven. Lay some chicken parts in a baking pan, say 5 or 6 drumsticks or thighs . Sprinkle with seasoning of your choice. Pour in some juice, soda pop (ginger ale is nice), other liquid or just water. This should come up about 1/3" in the pan.

      Lay some long green veggies around the edges or on top, like green beans, asparagus, or zucchini. Put a yam or sweet potato or piece of winter squash in the oven with a little foil underneath to catch any drips. Bake at, say 350, for about 40 minutes.

      If you are so inspired, you can dump some sauce over the pan, such as curry sauce, BBQ sauce, teriyaki, or whatever appeals to you. Do the sauce thing about 15 minutes before things are done.

      This meal is cheap, brainless, good and well-balanced. You may have some chicken left over.

      1. You are going to have to implement strict portion control in order not to waste food. Try to emulate the Japanese Samurai who would end a meal slightly hungry, rather than stuffed to the gills. (If you have ever caught a trout during a mayfly hatch, you would know where this phrase originated from.)

        By choice, I live on a boat without refrigeration. I will keep a meal diary and get back to you in the next week or so.


        1. You haven't mentioned your kitchen setup. Oven? Freezer? How often do you food shop? Anything you don't enjoy eating or avoid eating? Do you like to bake?

          But, what comes to mind if you also have time to prep in advance:

          homemade pizza for one; making your own pizza dough-even 2 or 3 batches ahead (they freeze well) has loads of possibilities. Small pizza, calzone, fried dough treats, bread to go with a simple pasta dish.

          Vegetables roasted, stir fried, grilled with a protein.

          Salads as dinner with add ins like cooked chicken, sliced beef, loads of fresh vegetables.

          You can portion starches for one pretty easily and get creative with potatoes or rice as a side dish or main.

          1. I like things that fit well into leftovers that are very different from the first serving like meats that are served one way the first time, like roasted or braised, and the rest gets used in panini, diced for use in pasta sauce,etc. ditto for carbs...orzo with olive oil as a side, hold some out and make a salad with curried mayonnaise, raisins, honey,and celery. ditto for vegetables...steamed broccoli one night, broccoli fritatta the next. Pot of beans one day, purée the leftovers and use in lieu of frijoles or sub for the chickpeas in a hummus like approach. Chili one night, chunks of chili meat on nachos the next. I make batches of roasted peppers and tomatoes and frequently use them to add a little interest to leftovers. Also homemade broth, usually chicken or vegetable, can turn almost any leftover into a good soup.

            1. I am out of town but when I return tomorrow I can give you some of my sample meal plans. I cook for one during the week, but dislike making one or two dishes and having to eat them all week. I also hate wasting food since its like throwing away money. The gist of what I do is make one larger meal at the beginning of the week that is dinner for that night, and then covers my lunches for the week. Then, the other nights I make a different meal each night. I've gotten good at cutting down recipes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: juliejulez

                OK, here's my meal plan for this week. I will have next week's done probably by tomorrow. I normally do all my grocery shopping on the weekend, so it saves time on weeknights. I'm on a budget too, so only shopping once a week helps with that as well. I was out of town this weekend like I mentioned so I haven't gone to the store yet for this week though, so a few sides are still undecided:

                Monday: Salsa Chicken Casserole http://www.budgetbytes.com/2013/01/sa... I'm not a fan of beans so I'm leaving them out, but keeping them in would really up the nutritional content. I'm also having it as 4 servings because I'm using 4 chicken thighs instead of breasts. This will be my lunch for Tues, Wed, and Thurs.

                Tuesday: Herby Mustard Chicken with Skinny Garlic Mashed Potatoes and some kind of veggie. https://www.donnahay.com.au/recipes/d... and http://www.skinnytaste.com/2008/03/ga.... I'm not making the olive oil mash because while olive oil is healthy for you, it's just too many calories for me. I will be cutting down the mashed potato recipe... I'll probably just use one russet potato. I use greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and I'll just wing it on those measurements since I've made the potatoes many times. The veggie side will be whatever looks good at the store, and I either steam or roast most veggies to keep it easy.

                Wednesday: I have a trip to Costco planned for after work so I haven't planned a dinner. I'll probably either grab something there, or eat the leftovers of Tuesday's chicken, maybe as a sandwich.

                Thursday: Honey Mustard Pork StirFry. This is a recipe from a book by Donna Hay ("The Instant Cook") and it isn't available online. It calls for beef in the recipe but beef is expensive, and my store has pork chops on sale this week, so I'll use those. Also has snap peas in it. I have brown rice already cooked in the freezer so I just have to add a bit of water to it and zap it in the microwave, it's 2 servings worth. I am going to make two servings of the stir fry so I will have the leftovers for Friday's lunch.

                Friday: Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Stacks: https://www.donnahay.com.au/recipes/f... My SO will be home for this meal so I'm just cutting it in half instead of down to one serving. I'll probably also leave out the eggplant since I'm not crazy about it. There's also a chance we might go to a baseball game this night so if we do, I'll move this meal to Saturday.

                Saturday: Grilled Pizza of some kind. Haven't really decided the details of this, especially since we don't have our Friday plans nailed down yet. But pizza in general is very easy to do, especially if your store sells pizza dough already ready to go. It's also easy to make small servings since the pizza can be whatever size you like, and the toppings can be as heavy or as light as you want.

                Anyway, I hope this helps :)

                1. re: juliejulez

                  4 nights chicken ,'one night pork , then some dough?
                  On a budget? Not so sure .

                  1. re: PHREDDY

                    I'm not really sure why you're still hung up on my budget for food. It really is possible to eat nice meals for a low budget, I promise :)

                    Monday's dinner, I got the boneless skinless thighs for 1.99/lb, and used 20oz for 4 servings. The salsa was free with a digital coupon through my store. Rice is 89 cents pound at my store, I used 1 cup of it. Cheese was 1.99 on sale for 8oz, I only used half of that. Frozen corn is a dollar for a bag, I used half. Carton of chicken broth was.. I think around $2 on sale? Don't remember, bought a ton of it at Thanksgiving when it was on sale and I had coupons. So the entire meal cost what, around $5-6? Not bad for 4 servings :)

                    Tuesday's dinner, got the meat for 99 cents a pound. Potatoes are cheap. I buy the veggies that are on sale, this week it was green beans for 1.49/lb. Thursday's pork for dinner was on sale for 2.99/lb, and I'm only using about 10oz for 2 servings. Pizza dough is about $2... normally make my own for less than that but don't always have time for the rising. I think it's less than that at Trader Joe's... used to be 99 cents but haven't been in awhile to verify since there isn't one in my area.

                    By buying meat in bulk when it's on sale, I save a lot of money. Including the pork chops that were on sale (bought an extra value pack and got 9 chops) and 2 packages of cubed beef that was almost at the sell by date, my entire groceries for this week cost me $30 because I already had my other proteins in the freezer.

              2. One sample weekly menu (assuming you work a M-F work week):

                Sunday: Grocery shop. Clean/peel some salad vegetables and keep those in a bin, to save time later.

                As you are home and have a bit more time than on a weeknight, roast a chunk of meat, say a small ham or pork roast, with simple seasonings. Toss a potato into the oven to cook as well. Clean and cut up some broccoli, and put it in a microwaveable dish. When the ham is done, take it out and let it rest, while you microwave the broccoli and make a quick salad from the pre cleaned vegetables. Eat sliced ham with mustard, potatoes with butter and salt and pepper, steamed broccoli with a bit of lemon juice, and your garden salad.

                Alternate Monday: Make bean soup. Saute half an onion, a stick of celery, and a small carrot, and some mushrooms (all diced). Add chopped ham, a can of beans (drained and rinsed), a small can of corn and a can of chopped tomatoes with juice, along with a bay leaf, and a bit of rosemary and thyme. Simmer for about half an hour. Serve with some nice bread and a garden salad. This makes more than one person can eat, so freeze the remaining for later use.

                Tuesday: As soon as you get home, stick a bone in skin on chicken leg (or two) in the oven sprinkled with some cumin and paprika. Slice a tomato in half, top a little olive oil and seasonings of your choice, and bake next to the chicken legs. Cook up some instant cousous, and dice a variety of vegetables and some green or black olives. Make a couscous salad with a dressing of your choice.

                Wednesday: Set your rice cooking with white rice (make enough for two meals) Saute mushrooms in butter. Remove from the pan, and pan fry a pork chop. Tonight, make a hearty non-lettuce salad (chunks of cucumber, onion, tomato, celery, carrots, etc) for variety. Add some nuts and/or cheese if you want.

                Thursday: Use the extra rice from Tuesday and the remains of the ham to make a Chinese style fried rice. Stir-fry the rest of the broccoli with onion, seasoned with garlic, ginger and soy.

                Friday: Pasta night. Saute diced onions, celery, carrots, garlic. Add lean ground beef and brown. Add a can of pureed tomatoes and some herbs. Let this simmer while you cook your pasta and make a salad. Steam some green beans, dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Freeze half the sauce for another meal. (Alternately, pull out a container of sauce from a previous week and thaw that out).

                Saturday: Leftover day! Eat up the bits you didn't finish during the week. Augment with an extra vegetable dish if you want.

                Shopping list:

                Fresh stuff: a small ham or pork roast, two chicken legs, a small package of ground beef. A head of broccoli, some green beans (fresh or frozen), lettuce, mushrooms, celery, carrots, cucumbers, green onions, tomatoes, potatoes. A couple of lemons. A head of garlic, and a piece of ginger.

                Staples: A can of beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of corn (or frozen corn) Pasta, rice, couscous. Olive oil, soy sauce, salad dressing,


                Other examples of repurposed meat

                Day 1: Roast chicken with rice.

                Day 2: Chicken Caesar salad, garlic bread.

                Day 3: Chicken stew with potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, green beans, etc.


                Day 1: Roast beef

                Day 2: Beef and Potato hash

                Day 3: Hot beef sandwiches.

                1. I've completely given up planning ahead and shopping ahead to a large degree because I found that I would be completely uninspired by what was in my fridge/freezer and lots of perishables were going to waste. Or I'd end up getting takeaways because there was nothing at home that I felt like eating.

                  Now I tend to stop by the supermarket/greengrocer/butcher/fishmonger on my way home from work and buy whatever is on special and/or inspires me to cook. I'm lucky in that I finish work at 3pm most days so have time to do this and also my local shops are all close together so I just park my car at the supermarket and walk to the other shops.
                  Even on the nights when I finish work late I'll still go to the supermarket.
                  It's not as arduous as it sounds because I'm not buying a lot of things. I buy things that I actually feel like cooking and eating so now I have much less waste and take real pleasure in cooking. The produce I am cooking with is much fresher as it hasn't been in my fridge for days. It also saves me money in that I'm often inspired by items on special or reduced to clear and I no longer get takeaways nearly as often as I used to.
                  It's a very liberating way of cooking.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Billy33

                    This is my strategy as well. It actually has led to less waste as I buy exactly what I want at the time.

                  2. I'm a single and I cook.
                    On the weekend I'll put a chuck roast in the slow cooker with some beef broth and worchestershire.

                    I can have a roast beef w/au jus dinner w/veggies.
                    A can of refried black beans and some cheese and salsa and tortilla makes shredded beef burritos for lunch
                    Same with a tostada shell or crispy taco shell ~~ add avocado if you wish
                    Heat some beef w/BBQ sauce ~~ serve w/cole slaw
                    Saute some onions until caramelized, put over heated sliced beef and top with blue cheese crumbles
                    I like cold sliced beef on top of green salad w/shredded cheese ~~ I don't even need dressing, just some olives as garnish
                    Add remaining beef to jarred pasta sauce and serve over pasta

                    I'm a low carber, obviously you can add bread, baked potatoes, etc