Recently a reader wrote and asked a good question regarding making meals. She wrote:
I was wondering how you manage nutrition, food, leftovers, etc. as an empty nester. Do you reduce the recipes to make less, do you eat a small portion of the finished item and freeze leftovers for another meal, do you split the meal and pass one on to another or is a combination of things the solution?
When my husband and I were first married, I had been single and living on my own for a couple of years, so I easily cooked for just the two of us. As our family grew, I increased the meals to feed four on a regular basis. But as the girls got married and we became empty nester’s, I found out quickly that something had to change. We would either have to learn to love eating leftovers for more than one day, or I would need to adjust my cooking methods.
Here’s how I have learned to manage our meals for two without eating leftovers for an eternity!
- Cut the recipe in half. This is an obvious one, right? But sometimes we get stumped with ingredients like,
- “1 can of mushroom soup.” I simply put in half a can, then put the other half into a freezer bag, label it, and pop it into the freezer!
- “1 egg” – go ahead and use one egg.
- Make a whole recipe and freeze portions and put them into the freezer, again, with good labels. You might think you’ll remember what it is, but when it gets into a frozen state, it’s really hard to tell meatloaf from goulash! So many things freeze well – just take a look on the freezer aisle at your store the next time for some ideas of what you could store in there! This is truly cooking once and eating two or three times from that little effort! This is one of my favorite ways to prep ahead for busy days!
- Make a whole recipe and share the other half with someone who needs a meal – a shut-in, new mother or a family with sickness.
- Make meats where you can use portion control – 2 chicken breasts, 1turkey kielbasa or 2 pieces of fresh salmon. Then I just add fresh vegetables and salads. This doesn’t’ have to be boring. Don’t just cook the meat the same way. You could make one-pan dishes with cut up pieces of chicken, with fresh veggies roasted in the oven. Make a baked potato with chicken sautéed in herbs and olive oil. The possibilities are endless.
- Make individual servings – pot pies, pizzas, or meatloaves, etc.
- Make soup and freeze it in muffin pans as I described here.
- Bake small cakes and use only one layer.
There’s also a great web site on Taste of Home for recipes for Cooking for two. This site has cakes and muffins as well as the standard fare for main dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I enjoy checking here if I want a special recipe without having too much remaining when the meal is over. Too much of a good thing doesn’t end up tasting like a good thing!
As far as nutrition is concerned,
- I rarely ever fry anything.
- We eat low-fat meals, with the exception of special meals or times guests are here!
- Sweets are limited. I love to bake, but I send most of it away to others so we won’t be tempted by it. Then on those occasions we do have it, it’s really special!! (I see chocolate in my future come Valentine’s Day!)
But you know what? We eat really good food every single day. Fresh fruit. Fresh veggies. Homemade breads – I’ve found some great lighter versions like these biscuits.
If you cook for just one or two, what are your tips? How do you maintain a healthy diet?
If you have questions about meal planning, cooking or baking, feel free to email me (address is in the contact info) or leave a comment here. I’ll do my best to answer it!
With love from my country kitchen,