The whole point of The Bachelor’s Kitchen is to help single people, especially single men, to do more cooking and less Bachelor eating: delivery pizza, frozen dinners, take-out, fast food and junk. Cooking for yourself is a great skill to have, it’s fun and it can actually save your life.
Why, then, do so many of us fall into that bachelor’s behavior? Well, we usually put other things ahead of ourselves. It could be work or social life, or it’s something you never did, or always did and you’re tired of it. There are so many excuses to take the easy path. But as we know, easy is not always better. In fact, quite often, it’s the worst path. Even when we have the best intentions, cooking for one can be a challenge. That’s if you even know how to cook.
Researchers agree that shopping and cooking for one is difficult. It’s just easier to reach for the snack foods. They come in single serve packages and keep forever. Too often, fresh food can wither in the refrigerator, even when you plan your meals ahead of time.
There are different points of view about solving this problem. One perspective is to just cook what you need and what you like. But that means having a lot of small amounts of ingredients. The only alternative to that is to buy at least some of your ingredients at the supermarket salad bar, which will cost more. Our view in The Bachelor’s Kitchen is to go ahead and make the meal for four or more and enjoy the leftovers.
Another idea comes from choosing the right food for the right meal. Roasting a whole pork loin for one might be something you wait to make until date night or a small dinner party.
One tactic is to remember that the freezer is your friend. Many bachelors live in small apartments, often with small appliances, like refrigerators. There might not be a lot of freezer space. Even if you have a full-size fridge, that freezer can fill up fast. So, if you have the room and the budget, look into a small separate freezer. That means you can take larger amounts of ingredients or finished meals, package them into individual containers that can be microwaved as needed.
Another useful tool in cooking for one is using a slow cooker, such as a Crockpot. These come in a wide range of sizes and styles. Many are programmable to start and stop at specific times, leaving you the option to have your dinner hot and ready to serve when you get home.
Plan ahead to use ingredients. By planning your meals ahead of time, you can plan on using more of those extra ingredients. For example, you have a recipe that makes six servings but you don’t think you can eat all that. So, you cut the recipe in half. But that means you only use half of a can. Now what? If you have planned ahead, you will know this is coming and will have another recipe to make later in the week which will use the remainder of that can. Just put the extra in a seal-able container. It will remain usable for several days.
But, what if you don’t have another recipe at hand for that ingredient? Most people try to be hopeful and will store the extra amount in the fridge. But that may not be a good strategy if you end up throwing it away anyway. Know yourself. If you don’t have a plan for it, then throw it out.
Embrace the egg. The egg is nature’s perfect food for single people. It keeps for a long time, and comes neatly packaged in single-serving containers. It is quick to prepare, and incredibly versatile. It will take on any number of other flavors. With this one item, you have in reach: omelets, quiche, salads, hard-boiled eggs and more.
While the freezer is your friend, not all fresh foods freeze well at home. This applies mostly to fresh fruits and vegetables. While those wonderful foods can be very tempting, try not to overbuy produce. This cuts down on food waste and nasty refrigerator clean-ups. Stick mostly to staple items you are fairly sure you will use with the next couple of days.
Share with people. Your single friends are beset by the same problem you have. If you want to make a recipe that’s going to produce a great deal of food, brace a few of them to take leftovers. Do this in advance, however, lest you discover that this is the week everyone decided to make beef Burgandy.
Stock a Pantry. You should always have different pantries. One is the kind of pantry most people have: can goods, non-refrigerator ingredients and dry foods. The freezer is another pantry, where you can store perishables for weeks or months – but not too long. You should also have an emergency stash. These are foods that can keep for a very long time and require little or no effort to cook. Just make sure the stash is not too much.
With a little planning and a few tools, cooking for one does not have to be a big ordeal. Cooking should be fun, creative and tasty, not a chore.