Friday, January 4, 2008

Cooking For One

*author's note* I'm still trying to figure out blogger's coding. I apologize for the awkwardness of the way the text and images fit together. And, if you're viewing this using a feed - it's probably really messed up - sorry!*

One of the most annoying things to me about living alone is food. It’s hard to shop and cook for one without wasting food from leftovers or things spoiling before you get a chance to eat them. Plus, most of the fun in cooking for me is making food for someone else. When I come home from 11+ hours at work the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen before dinner is ready. If I do decide to cook when I get home – I’m stuck with a dinner meant for a family that I’ll be eating for the next three days or risk wasting the food.

My solution is to spend a day once a month or so preparing a number of meals and freezing smaller portions of those meals.

The first step is of course the grocery shopping – and I mention that just so I can plug my cool shopping bags. I love them. They are made from recycled-cotton and were made under fair-wage/fair-labor practices. They have dual handles – longer straps for the shoulder and shorter ones for the hand. I own four of them and can typically fit all of my groceries into them. Because of the shoulder straps I can easily carry all of my groceries in one trip and still have my hands free to open the door/turn off the alarm/keep the cat from getting out. After all, there’s no one inside for me to call and say “Hey! Come help me lug these things inside! I fit all of the groceries for the meals below into my four grocery sacks. (Plus some other misc groceries) I bought my bags at Go shopping!

Depending on the meal I either just do the prep work and freeze the uncooked food or I cook the entire meal and freeze the smaller portions that can be microwaved later. The food tastes better if you freeze it without cooking - - but then you run into the problem of freezing entire cooking entire casseroles still. If you’re cooking for a family – I’d definitely recommend that option.

Here is what I I cooked/prepped in my most recent cooking-day:
Chicken Divan
Cranberry-Orange Chicken
Sloppy Joes
Spaghetti Sauce
Pigs-in-a-Blanket (Breakfast)

I had planned on making Meatloaf as well – but forgot to reserve the beef when I started browning it.

Also, after cooking the Feta Chicken I don’t think I will freeze it (we’ll just do an “eat it for three days” thing) – as I don’t think the Feta in the Freezer will do well.

Beef Meals:

I formed hamburger patties with about 1.5 lbs of ground beef. Placed them in a freezer bag and froze. When I want a hamburger – I can pull out one patty, defrost in the microwave, and then slap it on the George Foreman.
I browned about 3.5 lbs of ground beef. I divided the meat into 1 1-lb freezer bag and 3 .5lb freezer bags. The 1lb I’ll use to make tacos. I can just put the frozen meat in a skillet and it’ll de-thaw and I can add the taco seasoning. The smaller bags I can use to make sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce, or another recipe calling for browned ground beef. The remaining lb I left in the skillet - and added chili ingredients to make chili. I divided the chili up into small portions in freezer-safe bowls and those are now stacked in my freezer. I let the meals cool lightly covered in the fridge before sealing and transferring to the freezer.
I don’t really have recipes for any of those – they are just things I throw together.
The sloppy joes have ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar
The chili has beans, tomato sauce, onions, and chili pepper


I boiled two chicken breasts and let those cool over night for the Chicken Divan (it’s easier to cut when it’s cool) Then cooked the meal completely and froze individual portions.
Recipe: 3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 pks frozen brocc, cooked
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup mayo
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon juice
Layer broccoli, then chicken in a casserole dish. Mix together mayo, soup, curry, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread over chicken. Top with shredded cheese. Bake 45 minutes at 350.

I prepared the Cranberry-Orange Chicken completely and froze individual portions.
Place four chicken breasts in a lightly greased casserole dish
In a small saucepan whisk together:
½ cup orange juice
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
¼ cup of honey
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Tabasco
Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens (about 8 minutes) whisking often. Quickly dissolve 1 tsp cornstarch in 1 tbs water, whisk into cranberry mixture.
Pour over chicken and sprinkle with nuts (sliced almonds, chopped pecans or walnuts, etc. Bake 20—30 minutes at 450 until chicken is done.

This is sauce is rather sweet – so adjust accordingly if that’s going to bother you.

Again for each of those, divide into small freezer-safe containers, let cool lightly covered in fridge before sealing and transferring to the freezer.

The chicken-feta is really easy (though, again, I wouldn’t recommend freezing it)
Place chicken in a casserole dish. Drizzle with 1 tbs lemon juice. Salt and pepper chicken. Sprinkle with 4 oz. crumbled tomato-basil feta cheese. Drizzle with 1 Tbs lemon juice. Cook 30-40 minutes at 350 until chicken is done


This is my favorite breakfast food. You take the Pillsbury biscuit dough that comes in the four-can pack and cut the biscuit dough into strips. Wrap a strip of biscuit dough around a “lil’ smokie” sausage.

I put about 6-8 of these in a freezer bag and freeze. When I want pigs-in-a-blanket for breakfast I open the bag, defrost in the microwave for two minutes, and then put the sausages on a greased cookie sheet and cook for about 8-10 minutes at 350. (They don’t brown as easily when they’re frozen – so they don’t look as pretty but they still taste good!)

And, when you’re done – you have a number of meals ready to go or things ready to make a meal prep easier!


  1. You're so organised and on top of things. lol

  2. Mmm, some of those meals sound delicious. What a great way to save time (not to mention food and money).

  3. I'm a little late in commenting because I just now got the time to read it through completely.

    I'm glad you posted this. I'm going to try this sometime for sure. I'm tired of wasting so much food. It's hard for me to adjust our portions now that Lou isn't around, but this method would definately help.

    I have a question about the reusable shopping bags. Do you bag your own groceries at the store or simply hand them your bags? And have you ever used them in a self-checkout? I'd like to purchase some like yours. They look large and super sturdy. I'm tired of always having so many plastic bags around.


  4. Good questions!

    Reusable Bags: I just give the bags to the cashiers. At "higher" groceries it's not a big deal at all (Ingles, Publix) - - some other stores look at me like I'm crazy.

    I do use them in self check-outs. The trick I've learned is to ring up a fairly heavy item first and to put that item and the bag on the scale at the same time. The scales are weight sensitive - so if I don't do that I get a lot of "unexpected item in the bagging area" stuff. I can also do the "skip bagging" and bag in my own cart and such. I'd love to see self check-outs become more reusable bag friendly.