No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers. ~ Laurie Colwin
Mother Earth Meals Suggestions
See our recipe tag “single serving dishes” for meal options. Keep coming back, because we plan to add more options for you over the next months. And don’t forget our suggestions on how to make use of your leftovers. These ideas show how you can simplify your cooking, but still have plenty of variety simply by taking a single protein and turning into 4-5 different meals.
Here are some wonderful tips from the Mayo Clinic for small-quantity cooking. It can be made easier and more interesting. Here’s how:
Mayo Clinic Tips
- Shop with convenience in mind. Buy frozen foods in bulk — fruits, vegetables, chicken breasts or fish fillets. Remove and thaw out only the amount you need. Also, keep on hand ready-to-eat, low-fat, reduced-sodium canned soups and low-fat frozen meals or prepackaged single-serving foods. The latter can be pricey, so stock up when you find a sale.
- Take advantage of your freezer. You may be surprised to learn that many foods freeze well, including breads, meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. Freezing food keeps it fresh longer and helps prevent waste. For best quality, freeze food while it’s fresh. Don’t wait until it’s been refrigerated or left on your counter for several days.
- Cook a batch and freeze single portions. For example, make a casserole or stew and freeze individual-size servings. Then take out only the amount of food you need. Be sure to write the date and contents on packages and move older packages forward as you add food to your freezer.
- Prepare one-dish meals. For quick and simple cooking, choose a dish that serves as the whole meal. Look for dishes that include foods from several food groups, such as meats, whole grains, legumes and vegetables. Healthy examples include beef, barley and vegetable stew; chicken, vegetable and rice casserole; turkey and bean casserole (made with turkey breast, white beans and tomatoes); and vegetarian chili with diced vegetables and beans.
- Use extras wisely. Plan meals so that you can use the extra food in new dishes. For example, cook rice as a side dish for one meal, then use the remainder in a casserole or rice pudding. Bake chicken for a meal and use the leftovers in sandwiches, soup or toss with greens, dried fruit, and nuts for a tasty salad. Or make a meatloaf mixture and bake some as a meatloaf and freeze the uncooked portion for later use in meatballs or stuffed peppers.
- Hit the books. Many cookbooks are available with recipes for one or two people. Not only are cookbooks a good source for recipes, but also they can provide practical advice and helpful tips on such things as selecting healthy foods, planning menus, shopping and reading food labels.
Be creative and keep it fun
Mix things up and try a nutritious snack instead of a traditional meal when you’re short on time or energy. For example, spread a brown rice cake with ricotta cheese and fresh strawberries or herbed goat cheese and sliced olives. Other snack-turned-meal ideas are corn muffins served with apple and cheese slices, or fat-free refried beans mixed with salsa, a small amount of low-fat sour cream and baked tortilla chips.
Treat yourself to company from time to time. Invite friends or relatives over to sample some of your home cooking. Or start a cooking club, which is a great opportunity to try new recipes and have fun in the kitchen.
Remember you don’t have to settle for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a bowl of cereal every night. With a little planning and creativity, you can create healthy and tasty meals for you and your dining partner.