In the kitchen one can be a difficult number. “What can I make myself for dinner tonight?” can be a familiar theme. The fear of eating leftovers for weeks or doing the math for a single serving can drive anyone to eat out or choose a bowl of cereal rather than cooking.
But a healthy home cooked breakfast; dinner or lunch can help you feel accomplished and energized for the whole day.
People who consume the most home cooked meals show healthier eating habits and lower calorie intake, sugar and fat intake than people who eat in restaurants often, a study in Public Health Nutrition says. So home cooking is beneficial for your waistline also.
Pantry List Essentials
The right start to cooking for one is to keep a pantry stocked with the basics from which it is simple to create the easiest and tastiest meals.
Here is a sampler from the basics in my pantry, which include:
• Dried pasta, penne or shells (less than 10 minutes to cook in most cases) easy cook rice, packets of instant potato, couscous.
• Canned chopped tomatoes with herbs, ready to serve pasta sauces with olive oil and garlic, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, sweet corn, lentils, light coconut milk.
• Stock in a box – chicken or vegetable, olive oil, dried herbs.
• From the freezer section, smaller packets of frozen baby peas, spinach, steam style vegetables, which you can microwave in a few minutes or add to a stir-fry dish. Individually wrapped portions of chicken or frozen fillets of fish – all very easy to take out defrost and cook for one.
• Add to the shopping list some fresh eggs (with added omega 3’s) cheddar cheese, small portions of leaner cuts of fresh meats, pork loin and turkey and you are ready to cook!
I have put together some healthy, tasty and easy to prepare meals for one (or just enough for lunch the next day too) to inspire you to get in the kitchen and treat yourself. You might even want to double up and invite a friend!
This makes a nice breakfast, brunch or supper dish.
1 large egg plus 2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons grated cheese
2 teaspoons whole milk or 2% milk
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ small shallot, minced (or onion)
1½ cups baby spinach
Ground black pepper to taste
Non-stick cooking spray
You can add fresh herbs, chopped cooked vegetables such as peppers or cubed ham to this frittata.
1. Place a 1-cup ovenproof baking dish or muffin pan in oven; preheat to 400°F. While oven is heating, whisk together an egg and egg whites, 1-tablespoon cheese, milk, ground black pepper to taste.
2. In a small skillet, heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat; add onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add spinach; cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir spinach into egg mixture.
3. Remove heated dish from oven and coat with cooking spray. Immediately pour in egg mixture and top with 1-tablespoon cheese. Bake until frittata is puffed up and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
4. Serve frittata with wholegrain bread or toast and salad garnish.
This next recipe will come in handy when you want to freeze some food or have enough for 2 days running – stir-fry dishes are always quick and easy. You will need to shop, as there are some fresh herbs and limes in this recipe.
Stir Fry Thai Lime & Coconut Chicken
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Grated zest and juice 1 large lime
5 fl oz tinned coconut milk
1 dessert-spoon olive oil
1 green chili, deseeded and finely chopped
1 dessert-spoon Thai fish sauce
4 heaped tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
2 spring onions cut into 1-inch slices
You will also need a frying pan with a diameter of 10 inches or a wok.
1. First of all chop the chicken into bite size pieces and place them in a bowl with the lime juice and zest.
2. Stir well and leave them to marinade for an hour. When you are ready to cook the chicken, heat the oil in the pan or wok over a high heat, add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until they are golden.
3. Then add the chili to taste, stir-fry for 1 more minute and add the coconut milk, fish sauce and half the cilantro and spring onions.
4. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then serve with Thai fragrant rice (boil in the bag is an easy option) and garnish with the remaining coriander and spring onions.
For an easy solution for dinner 2 nights in a row, why not try making one meal the first day and then transform the “leftovers” into something entirely different the next.
Two Supper Meal Ideas
For supper number one take some chopped vegetables, for example red peppers, zucchini and quickly roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and chopped garlic. Mushrooms, winter squash and green beans might work well too. Roasting gives vegetables a different richer taste.
Boil some pasta, toss in some diced tomatoes, add half the vegetables, flavor with some grated tomato basil cheddar and supper is made!
This thick and healthy soup will be on the menu the next evening. Just simmer the roasted vegetables remaining from the first dish with a can of lentils, 1-2 cups of broth and some dried herbs. While the soup warms broil cheddar- topped ovals of French bread to sit on top – for an attractive garnish.
You pick your favorite vegetables and cook only the quantities that you are comfortable with. What could be nicer!
Cookery Books for One
It’s always handy to have a cookery book at the ready for new ideas when you are cooking for one, you might like to try this recipe book that has some great ideas including vegetarian: One Bowl: Simple Healthy Recipes for One by Stephanie Bostic.