If you love good food as much as I do, you probably love quality dishes whether you are eating out or eating in. But many of us single ladies don’t cook as often we could. For many, we are just too tired after working all day and we don’t have husband or kids that require us to cook. But before you grab some takeout or order that pizza, cooking for one can be easier than you think. Trust me ladies, there is nothing more liberating than eating restaurant quality food at home, in your pajamas. Add to that the satisfaction of preparing that meal with your own hands.
Sure there is the challenge of downsizing recipes and the dreaded clean up duty… but chef Joe Yonan, author of Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes For The Single Cook, has some easy tips that will make cooking for yourself easier than you ever imagined.
Tips for single cooks
New Take On Leftovers
Rather than making a large batch of, say, soup or chili and eating it for days on end, instead make the building blocks of dishes. That is, use your time on the weekends to make a big pot of beans or a pan of roasted vegetables, freeze them in individual-size portions and then draw from them to make a variety of quick weeknight dishes as you see fit. For example a big pan of roasted veggies can be a side dish one day, a sandwich ingredient the next and tossed in a salad the next.
Become A Freezer Queen
You will often have leftovers, so learning to freeze is a must. Freeze in ziptop bags and squeeze out the extra air by leaving a corner of the bag unsealed and then immersing all but that corner in water, which will push out the air, then finish sealing. Lay the bags flat in the freezer, and mark their contents and the date. The shallower the frozen product, the faster it will thaw.
Spice Spice, Baby
Spices are the key to most great meals. Buy spices in small quantities and buy them whole, not ground. Ground spices lose their potency more quickly than whole spices. Grind spices right before using, in an old coffee grinder set aside for just this purpose.
There is nothing like fresh herbs for recipes. If possible, grow herbs in pots on windowsills or outdoors in season if you have space. Otherwise, to store sturdy herbs such as basil and parsley, cut their stems like you would fresh flowers, strip off lower leaves and store in small water glasses or jars on the countertop. Recut the stems and replace the water every day or two. For more delicate herbs, such as cilantro, oregano, thyme, and dill, wrap the herbs in barely dampened paper towels and store in open-ended or perforated plastic bags, such as newspaper delivery bags, and refrigerate
Shop at farmers markets rather than grocery stores if you can, because the market will give you more opportunities to buy smaller quantities — usually as little as you want — rather than forcing you to purchase, say, an entire bunch of celery when you need just stalk. Ask the market vendors or grocery store produce managers to split up large packages; if they won’t do it, at least you’ll be registering the opinions of single folks, and perhaps eventually they’ll take notice. At the grocery store, look for smaller versions of your favorite items, such as shallots instead of onions, Brussels sprouts instead of cabbages, loose-leaf lettuce (especially if you can buy it by the quarter-pound) rather than whole heads. If you need an especially small quantity, look at the salad bar, where you might find, say, chopped red pepper or celery — but watch the price; you might be paying a premium for the convenience.
Joe Yonan’s book Eat Your Vegetable: Bold Recipes For The Single Cook on Amazon.