Cooking for one

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Cooking for one

Postby liketocook » April 19th, 2017, 8:21 pm

I had a search but couldn't find a thread on this so apologies if I've missed one :)

I'm currently adjusting to being an "empty-nester" after 26 year plus of family cooking and due to some substantial changes income-wise as I'm not working due to health issues I'm trying to cut my costs and adjust my shopping to mainly solo dining. I abhor waste so good that way and do cook from scratch/batch cook a lot of the time but hate repetitive eating . I do "sort of" meal plan but it can be a bit hit or miss depending on my health is on any given day. I'm reliant on on-line shopping so can't take advanage of Aldi/Lidl etc. What (if any) changes did you make when changing to a single-person household?
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby Catherine » April 19th, 2017, 9:33 pm

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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 19th, 2017, 10:48 pm

Hi LTC
We did have a previous thread, I found it by searching my own posts
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=14457&hilit=Cooking+for+one

I think I have a few thoughts to add tomorrow, as having more time at home has changed my approach slightly
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby liketocook » April 20th, 2017, 12:06 pm

Thanks Carherine & Sue, :D
I'll have a look the links.
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 20th, 2017, 5:25 pm

Ok additional thoughts I have had recently, things I have made as guides for myself

1. Don't be afraid of using ready made where it helps there are things that aren't worth doing for one in terms of either physical effort or cost effectiveness, for example putting on the oven to cook a single jacket potato, I buy the frozen ones (I prefer Banister's Farm to McCain, cheaper but slightly smaller too). They are much nicer when reheated in the microwave than one cooked from scratch in there, and a useful standby

2. Frozen is often good - apart from my own batch cooking. I've just bought a pack of frozen free-flowing steak mince, it's helpful to be able to take out exactly the amount I want, whether it's a couple of TBS to go into Ma Po Tofu, a cup to go into ragu or quite a lot to make chilli, makes portion control much easier than buying a pack every time or going to the butcher and asking for an odd amount every time, especially if you are shopping mainly on line. Similarly individually wrapped salmon steaks or cod loin portions, frozen raspberries and all the usual veg. Bought grated cheese freezes really well, much better than home grated (it stays flowing and not in a lump; they add a minute trace of potato starch to achieve this, unnoticeable when used) and it's useful to have a bit to sprinkle on things and pep them up.

3. Condiments help add variety and also are often not worth making to use a spoonful, I make lovely mayo myself, but a jar of Hellmann's is handy and lasts for ages. Similarly a glug of Paul Newman's Sticky BBQ sauce is better than anything I'll concoct by the egg cup full. But I probably have too many varieties of chilli sauce. I think I'm going to get a little bottle of garlic oil, as Nigella is right, it probably is the easiest way of adding a hint of garlic to a small amount of food such as a dressing, crushing a quarter clove makes more mess than food, I actually find it quite depressing having to do a lot of clearing up after making a single meal, it seems a bit of a waste, one plate of food makes as much mess as 6 apart from the place settings (cf some of the Masterchef contestants)

4. Ignore bigger is cheaper unless you are sure it works for you. I keep a sliced loaf in the freezer for toast. They cost £1 at Iceland, or two for £1.50. I buy one at a time, as it is a false economy to buy two, as in effect I am spending 50p to throw away mouldy bread in 5 days, as I can't fit two into the freezer. And if anybody says "breadcumbs" I may scream, how many crumbs can one person use up? Similarly I buy small cans of baked beans, chick peas (a small can is one portion or a sensible amount of hummus) and tinned tomatoes etc (I buy big as well but a stash of littl'uns is useful). The second half of the can is not a bargain if you have to add expensive ingredients to make something you don't really want to eat

Just my own take on things :D
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby liketocook » April 21st, 2017, 9:24 am

Thanks Sue :D
That's really helpful. I'm not adverse to ready made or bottled - I have far too many condiments too ;) , I've not bought pre-cooked baked spuds but do cook a batch and freeze them from time to time. I am guilty though of putting the oven on for small amounts :oops: . Meat and fish, well thank goodness fot vac packers! I buy most of my meat on-line and split into portions but do find I'm eating more chops, steaks etc. :D
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby earthmaiden » April 21st, 2017, 10:26 am

All that Sue has said. I find that many jars and bottles of things suggest you use them within a month which can be very unrealistic and they get wasted. Experiment with freezing the remainder of such things where it seems feasible.

I think my biggest problem, which has gradually developed over the years, is that because I don't have to worry about anyone else I get absorbed in things I am doing and then find it is mealtime, I have not started cooking the thing I intended but am hungry and want to eat something almost immediately. I eat a lot of salad with an easy to cook protein component as a result. I do often remember to take easy to cook things out of the freezer - or things that can be thawed and eaten without further cooking. I tend to feel as though I am perpetually finishing things up though even if it is a nice batch of veg bought or something that has been in the freezer for a while. It is a big treat to buy something fresh with all the right accompaniments, spend some time cooking it and then enjoying it. I think the only way round that is just to buy enough for your needs each day but that can be expensive and time-consuming.
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby liketocook » April 21st, 2017, 10:34 am

Eartmaiden yes using things up especially veg seems to be a perpetual merry go round...... Unfortunately I can only shop on-line so always seem to be second guessing how much fresh veg I'll need and I seem to always have a feast of famine with some stuff! I don't tend to worry about how longs things have been open if they have been in the fridge and look/smell/taste ok, I've just finished a balsamic dressing opened last summer which had "consume within 6 weeks of opening" on it and it was perfectly fine. I do need to be a bit more organised in planning my food so that I'm not scratching about at the last minute to prep a meal, that should be easy in theory but frequently I seem to get side-tracked :oops:
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 21st, 2017, 10:42 am

liketocook wrote:I am guilty though of putting the oven on for small amounts

Me too
The single spud is where I feel it gets silly, they take so long too, and they are often a spur of the moment thing here

I don't worry too much about the oven fuel, when I finally get a smart meter I'll be interested to see how much it reallydds to the cost of, say, a smothered pork chop
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby Suelle » April 21st, 2017, 10:44 am

It's worth having some vegetables in the freezer if your use isn't consistent. I'm still not keen on things like frozen cauliflower and broccoli, but peas, broad beans, sweetcorn and French beans are OK, and peppers and mushrooms are OK for using in casseroles or curries. Other people may be able to suggest other frozen vegetables worth buying - I'd guess chopped onions would be OK, and useful because you can take out small amounts.

Batch cooking needn't mean repetitive eating if you freeze most of it in single portions. You can also make basic batches that can have extra seasoning/ingredients added when you thaw and reheat. eg basic mince could be a Bolognese sauce, cottage pie or chilli con carne when treated appropriately.
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby miss mouse » April 21st, 2017, 11:14 am

Frozen minced beef and minced lamb is a good idea, 400/500 gms that the fresh comes in is too large for one but with the frozen stuff a smaller portion can be tipped out. If one onion is too much for one portion chop all of it and freeze the rest. I would add frozen spinach to Suelle's list, peppers you can freeze your own fresh, or if half is sufficient freeze the remainder. Frozen smoked haddock is another useful stand-by. Aren't we lucky to have freezers.
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby Busybee » April 21st, 2017, 11:33 am

I buy a swede and bag of carrots and mash them together then freeze in portions, not because I'm cooking for one, just that it's a real pain to prepare. Having a packet in the freezer which can be zapped in the microwave is a real boon.

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Re: Cooking for one

Postby Catherine » April 21st, 2017, 2:47 pm

If you buy a pack of chicken breast freeze individual breasts or you can buy individually from meat counter same with fish fillets. It is easy to buy individual kidneys or a couple of sausages, Kidneys can be easily made into stroganoff with a few mushrooms, again buy the amount you need. veggies also can be bought individually.. That said I pretty much get through a kg bag of carrots a week because my dog has a raw carrot every day. Buy plum tomatoes instead of chopped as you can chop the plums ones but timed plum tomatoes on toast are delicious, so half a tin in a sauce and half on toast. Make meal plans for the week and shop accordingly. Remember that supermarket offers are really there for the supermarket, not for the consumer. As said if you can't use it, it isn't a bargain. Excess veggies make soups or even vegetable stocks. You can still enjoy a roast if that is your thing, just roast a couple of chicken thighs or a leg and serve with veggies. It really isn't as daunting as it sounds, you just have to plan. Actually you will surprise yourself and end up really enjoying cooking for yourself.

Oh and one more thing....take time to enjoy your meal. Lay the table, put candles on etc. Just because you are solo dining doesn't mean you can't take the time to appreciate the food.
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 21st, 2017, 3:13 pm

Suelle wrote:It's worth having some vegetables in the freezer if your use isn't consistent. I'm still not keen on things like frozen cauliflower and broccoli, but peas, broad beans, sweetcorn and French beans are OK, and peppers and mushrooms are OK for using in casseroles or curries. Other people may be able to suggest other frozen vegetables worth buying - I'd guess chopped onions would be OK, and useful because you can take out small amounts.

Batch cooking needn't mean repetitive eating if you freeze most of it in single portions. You can also make basic batches that can have extra seasoning/ingredients added when you thaw and reheat. eg basic mince could be a Bolognese sauce, cottage pie or chilli con carne when treated appropriately.

I found the onion OK, if quite hard to brown well from frozen, the peppers are really good, but cut too small for most purposes IMHO

I've never really understood this idea of cooking savoury mince and tarting it up to make different dishes, when I make chilli, spag bol and cottage pie they are quite different from the start

I freeze chops, steaks, sausages, individual chicken portions etc. always wrapped individually, (I use parchment paper) and anything batch cooked is always frozen in individual portions
Lakeland 400 and 750 ml Stack-a-boxes are good, and I see they do 200 ml which I could do with. I don't think they are perfectly water / vapour tight but they are good and last well. I gave up trying to colour code a long time ago and I don't get on with Freezeasy labels, I use Micropore tape written on with a Sharpie, as recommended by Shotley Girl :tu:

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/p15648/Stack-a-Boxes
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby scullion » April 21st, 2017, 3:33 pm

why not fry all of the chopped/sliced onion and freeze the portion of the ready browned bit you don't want to use at the time rather than trying to brown it after freezing? you could do a whole panful and save on fuel at the same time.
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 21st, 2017, 3:53 pm

I understood we were discussing the bought ready diced and frozen onions? I've thought of batch cooking and freezing browned onions, but not done it so far. The problem I think would be the need to pack in blocks that might be the wrong size, at least the commercial raw onion is free flow. I do have chopped parsley and coriander in ziploc bags as the bunches they sell round here are huge.

Someone on the BBC board strongly recommended the canned browned onions, I can only assume it was a "joke", not even brown :sprout: :sprout: :sprout:
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby scullion » April 21st, 2017, 4:07 pm

sorry, didn't know you could buy chopped, frozen onions! you learn something new every day.
i freeze bigger bunches of the 'wetter' herbs, too. i find it rather satisfying 'chopping' the herbs by crunching up the bag while they're frozen.

ps. i often use ice-cube bags to freeze things like coconut milk, harrisa (when bought in a very large tin rather than a tube) and garlic and ginger puree (when bought in very large jars).
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby liketocook » April 21st, 2017, 4:19 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions folks. :D
I do use some pre- frozen veg:- peas, corn, broad beans, spinach and cauliflower the rest I'm not so keen on.
If I have excess herbs, onions, carrots, peppers, celery, or mushrooms. I chop then open freeze them then bag so they stay free flowing. I batch cook mash and portion.
I prefer to buy a whole chicken and joint it so I have the carcass for stock. The breasts are my least favourite cut but do buy packs of thighs or wings and portion them.
Batch cooking and freeze in individual portions and I thought it might be the answer then found I had a freezer full of meals or soup and no room to make anything else so it got bit samey :( . Hopefully the summer will make eating a bit lighter and easier :D
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby Luca » April 21st, 2017, 6:54 pm

Am I the only one feeling the need to create a sauce library? ;)

"Once rock hard store up straight and create your own frozen sauces library."
http://singlyscrumptious.com/how-to-use ... ficiently/
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby Catherine » April 21st, 2017, 9:11 pm

Luca wrote:Am I the only one feeling the need to create a sauce library? ;)

"Once rock hard store up straight and create your own frozen sauces library."
http://singlyscrumptious.com/how-to-use ... ficiently/


:tu:
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby miss mouse » April 22nd, 2017, 7:32 am

StokeySue wrote: I use Micropore tape written on with a Sharpie, as recommended by Shotley Girl


Masking tape and ballpoint pen also works.
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 22nd, 2017, 11:40 am

Luca wrote:Am I the only one feeling the need to create a sauce library? ;)

"Once rock hard store up straight and create your own frozen sauces library."
http://singlyscrumptious.com/how-to-use ... ficiently/

Really good tips :tu:
I admit to not dating mine (after years of dating everything at work) :oops: but my turnover or rotation is fast enough not to worry me

Remember if you froze it raw, then you can thaw, cook, and freeze the cooked dish so I will freeze chilli made from my frozen mince

What is "washi" tape?

miss mouse wrote:Masking tape and ballpoint pen also works.

I wondered about masking tape :tu:
Sharpie a lot easier for me to read than ball point, but for most people whatever comes to hand as long as not water based, in labs we used soft pencil as both freezer and solvent proof
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby liketocook » April 22nd, 2017, 6:07 pm

Interesting tips - I seldom freeze in containers but tend to flat freeze in ziplock bags I just write straight on the bag with a marker, I do date them but I'm guilty of not checking I use things in order.
On the side of both my freezers I have an inventory by shelf which works well as long as visiting offspring remember to a) mark it up and b) not move things around.... :D
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 22nd, 2017, 6:34 pm

I've just set up an inventory LTC :tu: :hi5:
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby liketocook » April 22nd, 2017, 6:55 pm

I've just set up an inventory LTC :tu: :hi5:
:hi5:
I've done my cupboards as well - I did this after I realised I had 20+ tins of chopped tomatoes,kilos of pasta and enough cous cous to feed the whole street :oops:
It does help but I do get a fair bit of teasing from my sister...... ;)
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby Luca » April 23rd, 2017, 8:01 am

As soon as my boys (totally grown up but living at home for the last year ++) are off on their travels again I'm getting more organised again. My library will be made! My main freezer will not have unknown things lurking in its' depths..... (currently the boys freezer and full of UFOs) .

I shall be the model of efficiency in due course! I did have a great system but it appears it's difficult to cross things off the list. ;)
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 23rd, 2017, 9:19 am

liketocook wrote:I've done my cupboards as well - I did this after I realised I had 20+ tins of chopped tomatoes,kilos of pasta and enough cous cous to feed the whole street

:scared:

Cupboards not necessary here, kitchen is too small, nowhere to hide 20 of anything :D

Inventory, I only have four drawers, and as I only put it up yesterday only the second drawer is complete

IMG_20170423_1014398_rewind.jpg
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby liketocook » April 23rd, 2017, 10:13 am

Sue love the board :D mine are on bits of A4 .....
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Re: Cooking for one

Postby StokeySue » April 23rd, 2017, 10:18 am

Fablon blackboard sticky backed plastic, bought ages ago, just got a round tuit :D
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