I have not had to cook for one (me) in a very long time.
When I did, and I did cook, it seemed like I made a lot of meals with hamburger. This probably had to do with my cooking abilities and the amount of money I had in my bank account. I certainly found cooking a challenge and welcomed every opportunity to share a meal with a friend.
So, what do people do when they are on their own again?
I know many people who are on their own, young, old and in between. To all, cooking for one is a challenge. Mostly because there’s very little gratification in cooking a meal that you will eat, most likely, in front of the TV or on your phone. Easier to order in. Been there, done that.
I have said in various places on this website that I would somehow like to influence people interested in creating their own meals to at least try to cook.
I must admit, it is much easier to cook if you have an audience. One friend, who likes to cook, but is on her own, started to cook again, sometimes, and has decided to give cooked meals, or maybe sweets that she has baked, to other people who don’t cook or can’t cook.
This is great, and I am sure that there is ample space in this world for this kind of kindness and generosity. It also creates an avenue for creativity while taking some of the boredom and perhaps loneliness out of a day. The gratification comes from the surprise and appreciation from the recipients of such kindness.
But that still does not provide the motivation to plan, at least some meals, to be cooked at home.
I have given this a bit of thought.
I know that ‘over cooking’ for me has to do with the size of the pots and pans that I have as well as the standard package sizes of meat, produce, bread, etc. You laugh, but it is true. This is definitely a standard sized world, especially now.
I learned this recently when I had to relinquish my beloved cookware that I had collected over 25 years. I had many stock pots, sauce pans, sauté pans, skillets, casseroles and of all sizes. And I used gas for cooking, and then had to switch to induction heat, hence new cookware.
I thought it would be relatively easy to build a smaller cookware set, with fewer pieces but still with pots and pans of varying sizes. Not so, it turned into a difficult challenge, much tougher than I envisioned.
I believe that the right tools make any job easier.
When I started looking, I was finding that the pans generally available were either too large or too small. In particular, sauté and sauce pans were a problem. And I could not find a deep stock pot to save my life.
I don’t think that you can cook food for two in a pan which accommodates food for four or six.
As I cook mostly by eye and taste, I found that these pan sizes made it difficult for me to control quantities and proportions. I can see how it could also be difficult for others if they scale recipe ingredients for one or for two. Food is not meant to fill 1/4 of the pan while cooking!
So I went on a quest.
I looked on line, I went to cookery stores, and I bought a couple of sauté pans on line where the diameter of the pan seemed to be the right size. But, while the diameter was correct, the capacity had been increased by increasing the depth of the pan. I found I just had more cookware that was not right size. Where I was expecting a sauté pan that was 2″ deep, I wound up with the same size pan, but 4″ deep.
In my quest, I also found that 2 handled pots had become a total rarity and totally out of style. If you have ever lifted a 4 quart sauce pan full of hot water and potatoes with a single handle, you know what I am talking about. Heavy, and dangerous.
I am used pots and pans with 2 handles and frying pans with a single handle. Stock pots are meant to be deep, not wide and shallow like the 4 quart oversized sauce pan.
Still looking, I wandered into a cook store at our local mall and found a 12 piece cookware set which featured 2 handled pans and deep stock pots.
The set also had pans of varying sizes, including 1 and 1.5 quart capacity pans. These included stock, sauce and sauté pans. Of course, the cookware set was out of stock, due to covid. So for three weeks I called once a week and no, they were still out of stock.
Then one day I dropped in, and to my absolute horror, they sold their display set, my set, and still no stock. They never sell the display set, except this time.
But, I don’t give up easily,
So, I went back to the online store that I had used earlier and sure enough, my 12 piece cookware set was still listed. I bought it immediately, and while it took almost 3 months to arrive, and it now sits in a box at our condo in Toronto. Finally, when I get home, I will have the sizes that will allow me to cook for two.
This is a long story, but, the size of your cookware does make a difference.
In Florida, I have two 8″ non-stick fry pans which I use almost daily. I could not readily find these in Canada, so I am taking one home.
Then of course I have a 10″ fry pan, and an assortment of sauce pans and (too large or not large enough) sauté pans. I may buy a 12 piece set for here, it is a passion with me, like shoes. I love good cookware.
But, I digress. If you were to find a set of three pans to reasonably cook meals for one, then I would recommend an 8″ skillet, (there are smaller cast iron sizes) and a 1.0L/1.0QT saucepan with a lid and a 1.5L/1.6QT saucepot with a lid.
The food looks better and tastes better, and you would seriously reduce the amount of food left over. You probably have other cookware for larger volumes, but these 3 pieces would definitely make cooking for one more enjoyable.
So, now what to cook and therefore, what to buy.
Well, as you know, the first hurdle here is grocery store standard package sizes for meat, deli items, vegetables, canned items, you name it. Some grocers still sell by the pound or by the piece, but even in these situations, it’s tough to get 1 piece of chicken, where you can generally get one steak. Or one sausage, or one pork chop or a 1/2 pound of ground meat.
If you have a store like this, then you can control portion size, and that should make cooking for one easier. If you don’t have this flexibility, there’s always the freezer.
And now for what to cook for one.
I gave some thought to this is well.
I have nearly 400 recipes on my website, and growing. I wanted to classify single serving meals so that a quick search on my Recipes page would yield only those recipes which fit the criteria, so I assigned a unique keyword ,’Easypeasy for One‘, and then reviewed some of my more current recipes and reclassified them.
There are more than dozen, which I feel, fit into this category.
So, long story short, try cooking in pans that are suited for a single serving, consciously try to buy portions that are suitable for one, and cook for one!
Always thinking of ways to keep things interesting and helpful….