Meal Planning & Cooking for one(16 Posts)
I'd really appreciate some tips on how best to meal plan and cook for one. I have recently moved in to a flat on my own, previously I was meal planning and cooking for three adults on a £70 per week food budget with a weekly Tesco delivery. I'd got this down to a fine art and now I'm on my own I just cannot seem to figure out how best to meal plan, shop and prepare for just myself!
I like to do batch cooking on a Sunday and freeze as I work full time and have fatigue from managing depression but am getting sick of having frozen meatballs or chilli on endless evenings as there is only one of me and batch cooking produces vast quantities. I like to eat healthy, well balanced, home cooked meals and would like to spend no more than £50 a week on food.
Am just really struggling to get my head around this for some reason. Any tips very gratefully received!
Can't you simply half your usual recipies and then freeze?
If you cooked for example, a soup and wanted it for Tuesday night, then you just freeze it in portions and have a portion on Tuesday.
The other portions can be used in the next weeks.
I don't do batch cooking as such - the idea of dedicating an entire day to cooking makes me groan inwardly but I've always cooked for 1 and never faff in the evenings. For me, one or two nights a week when I'm home early/not going gym in the evening etc I cook and the rest of the time it's easy, or frozen meals. Eg this week has been
Mon - bolognese with cheese and pasta - 3 portions in freezer for another time
Tues - Baked chicken (chucked in oven and cooked while having a bath) with veg rice (fried veg with a heated uncle Ben's micro rice stirred through and not sauce, chilli and garlic). Longest is 10 mins cooking for rice
Wed - Leftover (frozen) sweet and sour chicken and micro cauliflower rice
Thurs - Pork stir fry - so simple especially if you get the ready to eat packets in stir fry section of Tesco. I do my own sauce but you could buy
Fri - probably a takeaway but otherwise bolognese/curry I mace and froze
I fancy it's all about planning and timing really, once that's sorted it's easy. I know what you mean re the same stuff but freezable meals i love are bolognese/curries/stews/chilli/Mexican chicken/sweet and sour chicken or pork/lasagne. Easy meals to do after work are chicken and rice, stir fries, bacon and cheesy pasta (bacon, mushrooms, Philadelphia and milk in a frying pan and pasta), omelette, egg on toast, pizza breads (bread roll, Tom puree, cheese and veg, baked), nachos with soured cream and guacamole, chicken wraps (ready to eat chicken warmed, wrap, lettuce, mayo)
Surely batch cooking only produces vast quantities if that's what you choose to produce? You could still cook on a Sunday, if that's what suits your routine, but make fewer portions of more things? Then you could have, say, a two-week rotation of dishes in the freezer. I think the answer to your question depends a lot on how much you enjoy 'faffing around' in the kitchen, and how little you want to do each evening. Do you literally want just to defrost and eat?
I love cooking (and eating!) and am prepared to do almost endless messing about, so this might not suit you, but I would be buying:
1 pack chicken breasts: keep 1 in the fridge for 1 evening roasted when you get home with some pepper, onion wedges, courgette and pesto. On Sunday, make a chicken pasta sauce, keep one portion in fridge for Monday, roast the other one to have cold in the week with salad.
1 large pack mince: fry with onions, carrot, celery then turn one portion into bolognaise, one portion into chilli, one into flat burgers which I'd freeze separately to have 1 evening with a roll and oven chips.
Sweet potatoes and a butternut squash: turn into a stew with beans and freeze in portions.
Large pack peas and a pack of good quality ham: make pea and ham soup and freeze in portions. You could even make some bread yourself on the Sunday and freeze it too, if you enjoy that kind of thing.
A couple of salmon fillets; freeze one and cook the other when you get home one evening with thai coconut rice.
Good luck with it
A bag of porridge, milk and fruit for breakfast
Sandwiches for lunch + some veg, eg tomatoes or carrots
For dinner, you could do some batch cooking + you could get a ready meal some days. Some of them aren’t too fatty + you can boil some frozen broccoli to make it a balanced meal.
Scrambled, boiled or fried eggs on toast for breakfast
Meat of some sort, with a side of carbs (pasta, rice, diced potato, but not mash), with a side of seeds, grains and mixed vegetables for dinner (one of those "Cook for two" recipe meat packs from the supermarket is ideal).
Lunch: use a wide-mouthed 400ml thermos flask and take the other half of what you cooked last night for lunch the next day. Be careful about reheating the rice: I use a microwave pack and just nuke what I need for each meal.
Snack on apples and the odd chocolate bar.
Make cold brew concentrate and take it to work in a little bottle. Top off with boiling water 1:3 ratio. Gorgeous, and low in acidity.
I do this: it means I eat the same meal twice in a row, but it is delish and I have something different every day.
I bulk buy "Cook your own" and whole chickens, meat joints etc. when they are reduced and freeze them: a chicken can do you for 4 good meals with no hassle. I also buy frozen peas, leeks and sweetcorn, to bulk out the veggies.
You need a slow cooker!
3.5L one is enough for 4-6 meals which can be batched in freezer bags and frozen.
Indian curries, Thai curries, pasta bakes, soups, tagines, beef or vegetable chilli, bolognese, the possibilities are endless...you can even roast a chicken in it.
Morphy Richards have one on amazon for about £25. Best investment of my life
Wow! Thank you all so much! Such helpful tips. And yes, I could cook half when I batch cook, I think I'm just defaulting to previous behaviours and then getting bored with loads of the same meals.
I just can't seem to think logically or rationally about this for some reason, despite being really practical for work and everything/everyone else I know, I just seem to draw a blank on how best to approach this. Am sure I will get the hang of it and your help is much appreciated to you all xx
@cookingforone I tried batch cooking for a while but the sight of all those sad tupperware boxes containing frozen stew/curries/chillis wasn't very appetising. A "batch" of two meals is my limit now.
Rather than spending a significant amount of time batch cooking I would make a bolganise week 1, enough for 4 portions, week 2 batch cook another 4 portions of say sausage and bean casserole and after 8 or so weeks you would end up in a situation where you only need to cook Home made once a week.
Until then I would have supplement with ready meals and quick meals, beans on toast, tinned ratouliie and pasta with pine nuts.
It sound like you may have a lot going on so it is tome to be good to yourself.
I improved my batch cooking significantly once a) I discovered risotto and paella freeze b) I discovered the eco crime that is foil dishes c) I remembered mash freezes and d) I realised you could do the "easy prep" ready-ish meals yourself
Chicken with paprika, lime, honey, black pepper and tomato purée, baked.
Sausages and onion gravy to have with mash (portion sausages and gravy before freezing separately)
Pasta bake (chicken)
Pasta bake (sausage)
Chicken stuffed with cheese wrapped in bacon.
Then all then normal freezer stuff like bolognese, chilli, soups etc.
And some shop bought things like fish cakes and the odd ready meal.
Then for on-the-night food:
Salmon with roule is super easy and tasty
Pasta with a sauce made of roule again easy
Pasta with a lemon, white wine and crime fraiche sauce with smoked salmon.
Fajitas (can freeze leftover mix)
Chorizo fried with cherry tomatoes, garlic, red wine and capers (again can freeze leftovers) - delish with pasta, or as a sauce for chicken or fish (with or without chorizo, fish dependent).
Baked feta in a paprika sauce with sweet potato wedges.
And then add veg as desired and you're sorted.
I'd have some easy meals with ingredients that are frozen or store cupboard. We like those frozen baked potatoes. You can do them with cheese and coleslaw or prawns or if you cook some extra chicken when cooking cool and make coronation chicken.
One of the things I wish I’d known about when I lived alone was frozen ready chopped onion and peppers and mash because they are cheap, less mess and easier to ensure you don’t end up wasting loads trying to portion for one. That way means you can cook from scratch and therefore what u fancy when you want so again less waste
Frozen garlic, chilli and ginger are great for quick stir fries too
Just make a pot of something, put it in the fridge and eat it over two or three days. No need to freeze it. I find freezing fiddly as few foods freeze well. Or just make things from random bits of veg in the fridge - e.g. egg fried rice, stir-fries, salads (potato salad in particular), etc. I can normally bung myself a massive green salad in about 10 minutes and eat it with a chunk of bread for carbs for dinner. Some aspects of living alone are just bliss. Food is one of them.
Such great advice, thank you all so much xx
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