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Single people-- how do you shop for a variety foods for your dishes, and keep them tasty?

What the title says! I'm cooking for just myself and find it hard to get variety and not get tired of things. I've been cooking soup, burritos or a casserole-- something that can be freezes easily. But then after I go shopping for the rest of my recipes, it's the same breakfast, same sandwich, same snacks... well, different fruit. But everything else is just the same for 4-5 days and then I have to do it all over.

How can I meal plan to make sure this doesn't happen all the time?

I have bought a variety of vegetables before and just eaten them with the same meat / fish for lunch and dinner, that helped. Did I just answer my own question?

Or is there some secret to effective, transportable, healthy meals for the singleton?

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    1. Expand your repertoire. Have a well-supplied pantry so you have lots of options that don't require a special shopping trip for ingredients. Watch TV cooking shows on PBS. Read cookbooks, magazines. Check the What's for Dinner threads on the Home Cooking board for inspiration.

      I see this is your first CH post. Welcome! I flagged it so it gets moved to the correct board.

      3 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        I am definitely going to keep more in my pantry. realizing what i always crave/ never get tired of should help. Things like pizza, veggie dips, smoothies, nut butter/ jelly / chocolate chips... having that type of stuff on deck should help. I'll definitely look at more cookbooks-- salads, soups/ one dish meals, and international cuisine is where i could definitely use help. thanks again!

        1. re: chocoremedy

          I love my 1-quart slow-cooker. When I saw sirloin tip roast for $2.99 lb I bought a nice one, hacked it into quarters, and froze them. One piece of this, further hacked, plus vegetables, has made just a nice quantity of beef stew for tonight-plus-one. Also, I cook a whole pound of bacon at once, baking it at 350* in a bun pan until it's almost done, then I drain it really well and freeze it in a plastic bag.When I want to make a BLT or whatever I wrap the slices I want in paper towel and zap them---they get crisp very fast.

          1. re: Querencia

            In a bun pan? Is that something flat, or like a muffin pan?

      2. I haven't been single for a while but when I was I used a Foodsaver-type device. I shrank and saved meals so I could wait a couple of weeks before I ate it again. A chicken made roast chicken, gumbo and maybe enchiladas. Spread over a week or so that was a lot of variety for me. I tried to have someone over once a week or so, and that helped. Another big help was making food from different cuisines so some Cajun, some and some traditional American during the week felt like a good variety.

        9 Replies
        1. re: travelerjjm

          I have definitely considered getting such a device. The only thing is, I don't have that much freezer space to begin with! I suppose I could shell out for a deep freeze and a foodsaver... Heard it makes life much easier! Thank you!

          1. re: chocoremedy

            Caution - Having a larger freezer when there's only you (or you plus one guest) eating just means you get more freezer-burned waste, even with the best of packaging. You need to find "Recipes for 1 or 2" and also cut most other recipes in half or quarters when preparing them.

            1. re: MidwesternerTT

              Oh wow... Is that due to the extra space in the freezer?

              1. re: chocoremedy

                I wish! Too much space encourages too-large quantity purchases or cooking ("i'll just freeze the extra") So 10 extra servings get frozen, but seldom eaten (because it's often more fun to cook a new recipe, or even because you've lost track of what's stored in the freezer.)

            2. re: chocoremedy

              I'm a singleton with a small freezer and fridge. I shop frequently (every 2-3 days), and buy very small amounts. I often end up seeing things on special that might not be in my usual repertoire of recipes so I get inspired to try new things. I also don't end up with a large amount of one thing that I end up getting bored with and throwing away. It's a brilliant way of shopping because I buy things that I immediately feel like cooking. I used to buy a week's vegetables at a time and had great plans for them but as the week progressed I wouldn't be in the mood for the dishes I'd planned and cooking would become a chore. Now the veges I buy are much fresher and much more appealing to cook as they haven't been in my fridge for weeks on end!
              If I notice a special at the butcher or greengrocer it means I can quickly take advantage of it because I haven't planned my entire week of meals. I find that meal planning just doesn't work for me.
              The freezer is reserved for 1 or 2 meat basics, and frozen veges so that I have some healthy stuff on hand.
              I bulk-cook some things when I feel like it but usually I'll just cook enough for dinner and maybe to take for lunch the next day or day after.

              1. re: Billy33

                I know this is an older post, but I wanted to concur that as a singleton (love that term, by the way) I also shop every few days. It's not a hassle and it allows me to buy smaller amounts of things that I really want to eat. It's made for much less waste at the end of the week.

                I keep thinking I should get a small CSA share, but I think I'll stick with visiting farmer's markets and hitting the shop when I need things. I just hate wasting food so much.

              2. re: chocoremedy

                You could by a small chest freezer like I have - is more of a townhouse sized appliance and fits in my storage room off my deck. They're inexpensive and are great when you can get meats on sale.

                1. re: chocoremedy

                  I bought the smallest freezer Home Depot sells, about $250. I use a Food Saver and I don't get freezer burn. C. Oliver's advice to put frozen stuff in plastic shoe boxes is good, easier to sort around in there.

                  1. re: chocoremedy

                    I don't use a foodsaver or a deep freeze. Instead, I put individual meats in sandwich size baggies (so like 1 chicken thigh per baggie). I then weigh each one and write the weight on the baggie, and then keep all the baggies of each kind inside a freezer ziploc. I don't have an issue with freezer burn when I do this (along with keeping an inventory so things don't get lost in there). They also stack up nicely this way which saves room.

                2. Plan for sharing a meal with friends or neighbors. We alternate hosting, and usually make enough so that everyone has one additional meal for another day.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: KarenDW

                    Sounds fun! But all my friends are so lazy except one hahahaha.. Guess we could host it together!

                    1. re: chocoremedy

                      Yeah making friends with other foodie types is the way to go. Quite a few of the guys that I went to grad school with liked to cook as well. Back then, usually on Saturdays, we would all gather our week-old groceries, maybe pick up some more stuff we didn't have on hand (but more often than not, we went to the store just for booze) and cook up a feast at a friend's house, sometimes with a theme, sometimes we'd just wing it, those were good times, the cooking thing got us pretty popular among the ladies too, LOL.

                  2. Do you shop seasonally? It is almost impossible not to have variety in your food if you restrict yourself to shop for what's in season and locally grown. Certainly it is healthier all around.

                    Is it possible that what is wearying you is not the lack of variety but the lack of flavor in what's available at your market? You might want to find a new market with foods so flavorful you love eating them repeatedly while they are in season, without burying them in sauces and spices. Instead of starting with recipes, start with food that is abundantly in season and think of drastically different ways to cook it. (Don't cook a whole cauliflower all one way.)

                    You also might want to make friends with food vendors who will happily sell you small portions of foods, like a small bit of cheese or other items instead of picking up pre-packaged sizes that pretty much force you to eat them up before they spoil. When you buy vegetables, don't be embarassed to buy one zucchini or 2 tomatoes.

                    Also, instead of making pasta "sauces", toss hot pasta with seasonal vegetables or nuts or even just fresh herbs and a new-to-you cheese. Experiment with different kinds of pasta, shapes and grain variations. Instead of making soup, make broths. One night you can add white beans, rosemary, maybe garlic croutons. The next night you can stir in an egg and spinach and broken pasta. Another night use the broth to mash potatoes and make a stompf or bubble & squeak or whatever else might be fun that is in season.

                    Think of making nutritious desserts. It can be fun to eat some sweet potatoes for a whole week if they are in a pie, and then you can make an interesting variety of salads to go with them using different combinations seasonal vegetables and grains.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: barberinibee

                      Wow, what a bunch of awesome tips! I wonder, is it still "local" if I buy the local vegetables at a supermarket, or do I have to still find farmers and other local vendors to be sure? That dessert idea is great. I will take everything you have said and apply it towards my planning! Thank you!

                      1. re: chocoremedy

                        I don't worry much where I'm buying my veggies. I'm happy to buy them, cook them, and eat them. I do like going to farmers markets when I have the opportunity and its interesting to buy different items.

                        Certain things in the supermarket seem like they're "pre packed" but they're not. Where I shop, the grapes and cherries are always put into bags, but they're sold buy the pound. I usually put a handful of what I want into another bag and only take and pay for that

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        Cool! all of those recipes look super simple. Thank you!

                      2. Instead of cooking dishes that freeze and thaw easily, I mostly just buy ingredients that freeze and thaw nicely and only cook enough at a time for a single serving. I make sandwiches and/or salads in the morning to take with me to work for lunch about twice a week, other days I just eat out with my co-workers.

                        Things that I always have in the fridge/freezer:
                        from the meats department -
                        pork shoulder that's been trimmed and cut into several chops and the rest can be used to make Charsiu either Cantonese or Japanese style, or even cut up into cubes for making stews (not a big fan of pork stews at all, with the exception of massaman curry, so in the stew direction that's the only final destination in my house).
                        Chicken - either whole or parts. Whole chickens take up quite a bit of room in the freezer so I only buy when I know I'm making soup that day, you can butterfly yours and cut it into quarters and freeze the parts that way, me, most times I just cut off a breast and a thigh and throw the rest into the pressure cooker and make soup, and freeze the leftover soup in a ziploc bag for later use.

                        Beef - I just buy when I need and/or want beef, way too much work even for me to freeze big chunks of beef properly at home.

                        From the seafood department:
                        squid, shrimp, scallops, mussels are good freezer-thawers and keep for a long time as well, just grab a little bit of each when you feel like having a little seafood medley type dish, w/ garlic cream sauce over pasta, or paella, something along those lines.

                        Fish on the other hand, I always buy fresh and only buy top quality stuff in small quantities.

                        Veggies
                        this is the part that requires the most planning, if you're not a hardcore vegan type, chances are 9 times out of 10, you will end up with more veggies in the fridge than you can possibly eat. What are you gonna do with that 2lb bag of baby spinach? can't have spinach salad for 6 meals in a row right? If you must buy in larger quantities, figure out what you're going to make before doing so.
                        I usually just buy what I need when I need it, and I prepare my veggie sides very simply, (e.g. sauteed lightly in olive oil with a bit of garlic and a pinch of salt), this serves two purposes, 1) I like tasting my veggies' real tastes; 2) it ensures maximum compatibility with other ingredients in case of left over.

                        Last but not least, as #greygarious mentioned above, having a fully stocked pantry helps a lot, different types of starch (rice, noodles, etc), and canned veggies (tomatoes, corn, beans) come in very handy. Also, having a few tried and true (to your own taste) recipes for dealing with the leftovers will help even more, things like fried rice, bibimbap, even pizza are great if you have accumulated a little leftover meat and veggies over the week. Making rice takes almost no time at all, as for pizza, one can make a no-knead dough in 3 minutes and the next evening you can throw on some left over shredded chicken, asparagus, mushrooms or what have you and call it a meal, it's super easy and fast once you have your routine down.

                        Cooking for a single person isn't hard at all, but it certainly takes more planning, and the real difficulty comes when you want variety and want it cheap and not want to spend a lot of time preparing your meals.

                        Over the past decade or so, I think I've trained myself to work as fast and as efficiently as I can, and now average a prep + cook time of about 15-20 minutes and I get to eat stuff that I actually enjoy eating on a daily basis (longer cooking sessions usually happen on Sunday around noon time but more as a hobby and not a chore), and I try to limit myself to 2 shopping trips to the store a week, and that's the real time-waster.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: leo_k

                          Wow, I can only hope I can get to your caliber before I die T_T;;;;;
                          But I have started building my recipe list, and it's making me realize what I need to do more on a week by week and month by month basis, as well as what I never tired of, what are the "stand bys" and what I should always have. Thank you for your detailed response!!!

                          1. re: chocoremedy

                            I like to cook vegetables that go bad quickly ASAP. Like spinach- I'll have a spinach salad the first night. While I'm prepping the toppings, I'll sauté the rest of the spinach and set it aside. Lasts longer that way- use in quiche, omlettes, spinach quinoa patties, pizza...

                        2. I'm thinking this might garner more responses if this was posted on the Home Cooking thread...

                          1 Reply
                          1. Sorry for posting in the wrong thread! This is my first post, and the amount of helpful responses is OVERWHELMING! Thank you so much!!! Now, how do I move this to the right thread...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chocoremedy

                              You hit the red "flag" icon below your OP (original post), then ask the Mods to move it. You can edit your post only within a 2hr window but you can ask the Mods to move or delete it at any time. But as I mentioned in my post upthread, I already flagged this thread to be moved, and the Mods have done so. Only the Original Post-er can edit a post, but anyone can flag it to address a problem in content or category.

                            2. I have found this invaluable for easy meals: http://stonesoupvirtualcookeryschool....

                              You can always do more, but sometimes less is better.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sr44

                                Wow, this is perfect. Thank you!

                              2. I just "discovered" the packaged Pearson Foods stew vegetables -- perfect size/combo of veggies for our family of 2, very fresh, and they don't need to be used in stew. I'd seen these before but would bypass since they were marked/marketed as For Soup or For Stew. But as a free item with meat purchase this week a bag came home with me. Wonderful - 6 potatoes with skin on, a large onion already peeled/quartered, about a pound of baby carrots and about 6 stalks worth of celery in uniform-length logs. Saves buying much larger-portion packages of each item I re-bagged each type of veg separately when I got home to minimize cross-flavors.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                  That's a smart idea-- I dont think stores in my area have that brand but I'll keep a loook out for something similar! Thanks!

                                  1. re: chocoremedy

                                    The stores near me package this themselves. There's a "stew" mix and a "soup" mix

                                2. I have an SO but he travels during the week, so I'm solo for most meals (we eat out more on weekends). I find planning is very important. I plan my meals a week at a time. I also look at the grocery store ad to see what's on sale, especially for vegetables. I try to buy vegetables that are easy to cook in individual servings, like green beans, broccoli etc. Some stores around here sell greens loosely... so you don't have to buy a giant package that's impossible to use up. I also buy meats in bulk when on sale and freeze things like chicken breasts individually, so they're easier to use for 1 or 2 serving meals. I don't eat much in the way of breakfast (protein bar in the car on the way to work) but I utilize leftovers for lunches... helps to use them up faster. I rarely make anything that's more than 4 servings. I also do not mind eating a similar lunch everyday if dinner is different.

                                  Here's how my planning works (I don't really cook on Fri/Sat or if I do, there's someone else here to eat it).

                                  Sunday - Make a meal in 4 servings that reheats well... curries, pasta dishes, enchiladas, etc. Have 1 for dinner, box up the other 3 and put in the fridge.

                                  Monday - lunch leftovers from Sunday. Dinner - new meal, usually 1 serving worth, something like chicken or pork chops... easy to make just one serving.

                                  Tuesday - lunch leftovers from Sunday. Dinner - just like Monday. 1 serving meal but different protein/style than Monday

                                  Wednesday - lunch leftovers from Sunday. Dinner - 2-4 serving meal.

                                  Thursday - lunch leftovers from Wednesday. Dinner - 2-4 serving meal, SO comes home Thurs nights so he eats one of them. If I did 4 servings on Wednesday, I'll only do 2 on Thursday, or vice versa.

                                  Friday - lunch leftovers from Thursday or Wednesday. Dinner: Usually out or I come up with something on the fly.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    Actually just did my own verson of this, with the types of foods i like. Good to have a template! "For every minute spent planning, an hour is gained".

                                  2. I am reasonably happy with my singleton routine, which tends to follow a few basic principles:

                                    1) Get variety over the course of a week, but frequently eat almost exactly the same thing two days in a row (e.g., divide can of beans, large sweet potato, etc. into two portions over two days);
                                    2) Eat absurd quantities of vegetables (in my world, a 2-lb. Wegmans club pack of green beans or Brussels sprouts is also two portions, but if I were less lazy/self-indulgent I could of course buy smaller portions out of the bins);
                                    3) Use the freezer for things I only want to eat one serving of at a time (meat, kale);

                                    and most importantly,

                                    4) Define weekday "cooking" as "assembling a small number of ingredients and applying spices, acid and condiments" (e.g., quinoa, kale, garbanzo beans, sundried tomatoes, lemon juice, and about six different haphazardly-added spices) rather than "combining small amounts of a large number of perishable ingredients" (e.g., most of the recipes ever written).

                                    But yeah, it still gets a bit repetitive. I guess #5 would be "enjoy planning/anticipating weekend restaurant visits and dinner parties."

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Grechka

                                      Nice. This is what I feel like I should at least be doing, but I get grossed out with leftover veggies for some reason... Guess the alternative is to a. not overcook them like I usually do or b. eat raw! Thanks for the tips!

                                    2. I think, in large measure, it depends on how much time you want to spend on yourself. There is no right or wrong answer to that. For me cooking is is certainly a solo activity but the prime motivation is to make other people happy, feel nurtured, loved etc.... My SO is frequently away on business so I cook for one a fair amount. For labor intensive things I make and freeze but in containers suitable for both one and two people. I also make food for my parents that I know they would never get on their own. Some of that gets frozen into singleton bags.

                                      I truly understand the limitations of a small freezer and if I had my druthers mine would be three times the size it is. You just can't freeze everything! Choose wisely. I freeze stocks, pasta sauces (the slow cooking ones) soups and dishes like osso buco. If you've ever spent 5 hours caramelizing onions for a classic onion soup you know that it is something you may not be able to justify making for yourself but if you are making it for a dinner party or friends than why shouldn't you freeze some individual portions for yourself?

                                      Buy fresh produce in season. I love roasted vegetables at this time of year they take very little time in the oven and can be as simply prepared as you like with just olive oil, salt and a spritz of lemon. I like to make little Bagna Cauda sauce with most fall and winter vegetables. This takes a few more minutes but it is the kind of thing I could make in my sleep. Drizzle on the roasted vegetables and top with some toasted buttered breadcrumbs and that might be a whole meal.

                                      I also have a lot so staples that I keep on hand when I am feeling lazy and a few quick meals that always satisfy. Things like linguine with white clam sauce. Five minutes to steam and shuck the clams and another 15 To finish the sauce and cook the pasta. Soft tacos with quesadilla cheese, diced potatoes and chorizo finished with some purchased salsa and maybe a slice of avocado. A simple ripe avocado with a spritz of lemon and salt and maybe a dash of hot sauce is nice. Eggs and cheese are your friends when cooking for one and the ways to combine them are endless.

                                      I also like to indulge in things my SO doesn't like. When he's away dinner can be steamed artichokes with Bernaise sauce or something wickedly spicy. It's also fun to make and freeze certain treats that you can eat as many of as you like. I usually have some gougeres in the freezer. They are my fail safe emergency appetizer for friends and family but on my own I can pop a few in the oven and bake just for me. I also like them baked and stuffed per the Judy Rodgers recipe with bacon and lightly pickled onion. The same goes with pate choux gnocchi, I'd never go to the trouble just for myself but I always make a lot extra and use when I want them.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: KateBChi

                                        You sound like a dream to live with...!!!!
                                        A+ on the ideas. Love them all, but realistically can't see myself actually making my lazy ass eat like that... Unless it's, like, 1x a week. But you have to start somewhere, right? Thank you!

                                      2. I shop every other day.Buying what I decide to cook in small amounts. Or if I go big I will freeze some portions.I eat what I wan't and when I wan't.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: emglow101

                                          I think this is how I operate. SO works away from home for much of the year and I'm on my own but definietly eat a good variety of foods. I follow your motto "eat what I want when I wan't." It's easy to repurpose meals even jut simple chicken breast with different seasonings, different cheeses, different herbs, sauces etc. I love Penzey's and will often use whatever I buy as the inspiration for dinner. I also make a lot of stock. I think the most useful approach for me is to learn to wrap and store things well. Not just meats, but even sauces, vegetables, pasta, rice, etc. Also eating with the season. If I have leftovers, I force myself to figure out a way to use them and if I don't want the same meal over and over I have to be creative and often the best meals come from the scraps in the fridge that are about to go bad.

                                        2. I’ve been cooking for myself most of my adult life and here’s what I do. I decide what I want to eat and I make it.

                                          Yes, it’s that simple. Although it presupposes that you enjoy cooking and that you don’t mind leftovers. I’m fond, perhaps inordinately so, of both. And I don’t worry about putting a balanced meal on the plate. If I have nothing but a steak tonight, I may have nothing but a salad or vegetables tomorrow. I don’t have to follow any rules, and I don’t have to make anyone happy but myself.

                                          That said, I find myself cooking Asian food, mainly Chinese, more and more. I can do the prep any time it’s convenient, and once I have the mis en place it’s usually no more than few minutes before dinner is ready. And once you’ve stocked up on the basic ingredients, you rarely have to purchase more than one or two items to make nearly anything.

                                          I wouldn’t overthink it. Cook for your own enjoyment and pleasure and all the rest will fall into place.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            I too find myself cooking Asian food a lot, from Chinese stir-frys to simple Japanese rice bowls like oyako-don and gyu-don. Come to think of it, the reason I started growing herbs and other stuff in my backyard was that I was going through green onions so fast with all the Asian food that I cooked.

                                            But it wasn't always smooth-sailing for me with them Chinese stir-frys, we definitely went through some ups and downs, so to speak LOL. Years ago when I began learning the art of stir-frying I was very disappointed that I couldn't get any wok-hei at home with my induction cooktop, so I basically just gave it up for a couple of years since I didn't like stir-frys enough to go and buy an outdoor burner that could put out the required BTUs to cook restaurant-quality stir-frys, then I discovered heavy flat-bottom cast-iron woks! Sure the darned thing is heavy and I can't really toss my food with it like the pros do, but now I can make perfect stir-frys, fried rice and noodles, hooray! It's the best thing since sliced bread, works great for deep frying things too!

                                          2. Following something like this link, doing some prep on sunday (or whatever day) makes the rest of my week super easy. You could just make half of these recipes so one serving for dinner and one for lunch the next day or day after, obviously you can adapt this to your own favorite meals.
                                            http://everydayfoodblog.marthastewart...

                                            1. This is going to sound awful. I find that one good solution is to find a neighbor who, for whatever reason, isn't able to cook much. He or she is delighted to get what you share and this, I hate to put it this way, gets rid of your surplus. If I feel like making brownies or gingerbread or making moussaka or chili, I don't have the whole quantity hanging over my head. And the neighbor is happy to have a change from Stouffer's. This works equally well if your neighbor is busy-single, medically disabled, or isolated elderly.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                That's great!

                                                There are so many seniors especially who are just barely making in at home, and are living off of lean cuisine. IF you have the funds to gift meals it would give you more variety and be much better for them.

                                              2. For some ideas for stuff that's not big casseroles/stews...

                                                You can adapt a lot of roast meat recipes for single portions. Instead of a whole chicken, for example, use one or two pieces of bone in skin on chicken. You may have to adjust cooking for the vegetable parts if you're changing the size of the meat but not the vegetables (so they finish a the same time).

                                                For example - take a small baking dish, and put cut up vegetables and/or potatoes in the bottom of the pan, tossed with a bit of olive oil. Put in the oven and cook for about 15 mintues, then put your chicken, skin side up, on top and finish roasting. You'll end up with roast chicken and vegetables in a manageable size. Vary the vegetables and seasonings, and you'll get very different results. And it doesn't take much work.

                                                For example - marinate the chicken with lemon juice and black pepper, layer over potatoes seasoned with thyme. Dice sweet potatoes and carrots and onions with ginger, season the chicken with curry powder. Diced tomato, garlic, onion and potatoes, and season the chicken with chili powder. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and layer over lots of unpeeled garlic cloves for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, in single serve form.

                                                Single portions of fish cooked in foil - take a fish fillet, add a couple of mushrooms, some sliced carrots, a few green beans, some herbs and butter, seal it up, and cook. The result - flavourful fish, tender but not mushy vegetables.

                                                Do mini pot roasts with either a small casserole dish or more foil - a piece of stewing beef or pork, some tomatoes, onion, tomato paste, herbs, maybe a little bit of wine. Seal up and bake.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                  See, that just seems like so much work for me. Maybe not work but planning... And actual cooking... Which I know I'm bound to do either way, but could you simply make larger portions of the meat plain and then just do vegetables and seasonings every day to make it different? That way, you'd still have to plan for variety, but you'd get half the cooking out of the way. Or maybe its not such a good idea to cook meat in such large portions? But the way I see it, if you can do it safely with soups and casseroles, why not with just a plain ol hunk of meat? Maybe the lack of salt/ stock? IDK. Thanks for enlightening me to the ideas~!! Really helpful .

                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                    I love my little fish pouches, they rank pretty high on my weeknight dinner list. Takes less than 5 minutes to prep, simple delicate tastes, leave me with enough room for desert, best of all, they can be done in the toaster oven, no preheating necessary and I don't have to feel bad about wasting lots of electricity just for a little food.

                                                  2. I forgot to mention- i often cook a large batch of roasted veggies, a grain, and whatever protein- later in the week i just assemble with some fresh veggies or greens into easy meals but i really use sauces and condiments to change the flavors completly.
                                                    One night with chimichuri, another with soy sauce and sesame oil/ asian flavors, another with hummus and or tadziki sauce, etc
                                                    Keeping a good variety of these sauces/condiments on hand makes it easy to take the same components and re-arrange into a new meal.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                      I do this too although often it is because something in the refrigerator is in a use it or lose it state. Roasting eggplants, pickling beets, poaching chicken or spinach extends its lifetime in addition to making quick meals possible.

                                                    2. Honestly, the occasional frozen meal or take out can be your friend. Back in my single cooking days, I would get into a pasta and sauce with some chicken rut. Not that I didn't like it, but seemingly every day for 2 years.. .

                                                      A good frozen prepared meal helped break the rut, looking for things I wouldn't make for just me. One was enough to say hey, try something new. And I always had another one in the freezer as insurance.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: autumm

                                                        I do that when husband is away. Something *i* like and no prep and clean up

                                                      2. I've read most but not all of the replies, and haven't seen one of my best tips....I've got this most fabulous little fruit & veggie market and I keep my fridge & bins stocked. I can buy as much or as little of each item and it is so fresh it lasts much much longer than produce from the supermarket. I have Whole Foods and Fresh Market in my area, but I find their produce to just be not very fresh and totally over priced. With all of my fresh produce, I just piggy back on all of the other great suggestions, well stocked pantry, etc., etc.