When I was young and single, I ate a lot of frozen entrees. You know the kind, not horrible tasting, but full of salt, and for me, not very filling. Fast forward to now. I'm still single, but not eating many frozen meals now that I figured out how to cook for one.
In the past couple of years, I’ve focused on buying fresh, and mostly local, produce and protein, which I use to create delicious, simple and healthy meals for myself. I've found that if I just do a little planning at the beginning of the week, it’s easy to cook for one person. I plan my week of meals around what protein I have in the freezer, find on sale or am craving and around what vegetables I pick up at the local farmers market or the grocery. I’m basically meal planning in my head as I shop. I like to mix and match proteins and produce to create meals throughout the week. This is also a great way for me to minimize food waste.
Mixing and matching my ingredients is my way of making sure I use up what I have on hand while still enjoying meals that are not exactly the same every day. I don’t mind leftovers at all, but I do get bored eating the same exact dish several days in a row. Variety is the spice of life, right?
One way to get the most use out of your protein during the week is to think about the different ways to use it. For example, if you buy a Rotisserie chicken, you can have a couple of dinners with the legs and thighs served with vegetables, while using the breast meat to add to a salad or to make chicken salad for a sandwich.
Here’s an example of how I used pork chops in two different ways. I cooked the two I had purchased, but then realized I wasn’t hungry enough to eat both. I ate one with butternut squash risotto and the other I used the next day to recreate at home my favorite salad from a local restaurant for lunch.
If you are single, or even cooking for a small family where not everyone likes the same thing, I hope this idea of mixing and matching protein and produce to create a variety of meals is helpful. And if you are someone who thinks it’s not worth it to cook and instead throws a frozen meal in the microwave every evening, I hope you’ll be inspired to cook for yourself a little bit more.