A bit of
organization makes for tasty meals for two
Hit the market and
it sure seems like everyone is cooking for a crowd. Everything seems
to be in such large packages.
In reality, there
are a lot more folks cooking for one or two than you might think.
There are of course those seniors and empty nesters. But there are
also the newlyweds, the college kids, the single parent and child,
and others, like my daughter and her roommate and all those other
It does take a bit
of organization to make cooking for two a pleasurable experience.
With some organization, you won’t find yourself eating goulash
leftovers for an entire week.
Here are some organizing ideas for cooking for just two:
storage bags. Purchase
a supply of freezer bags, plastic wrap, foil, plastic dishes and
a permanent marker. This way you can be prepared for those
everything. Sure you think you’ll remember but once frozen, it
is often hard to tell which dish is which. Use your marker to
write on the foil or bag. I’ve found sticky notes work in the
freezer too. You can use one on the top of your plastic lids so
that you can reuse the dish many times.
Use a marker. Frozen food all
start to look alike. Use a marker to write on the dish. Adding
the cooking temperature and time will save you from looking it
recipe needs only half of a can. Place the remaining half of the
can in a small freezer bag or plastic container, label and
freeze for another day or use.
recipes seem to serve four, six or eight. However, you don’t
need to divide the recipe in two. This often results in less
than satisfactory results. Instead, prepare the dish but divide
it in two. Have half for dinner and place half in the freezer.
For casseroles, you can freeze them unbaked. For soups or
stews, cook the dish and freeze half after it is cooked.
casserole dishes are a great gift to you. Dishes, such as
lasagna, chicken tetrazzini and tuna casserole, can be prepared
and divided among the small casseroles. Freeze the extras and
pull out one or two, as needed, on a busy night.
dishes. When cooking for two, still prepare your favorite family-sized
dishes, like this manicotti. Instead of baking one 9x13-inch
casserole and eating leftovers, divide the ingredients into two
smaller dishes. Cook one and freeze the other for another day.
Shop in smaller
quantities. When cooking for two, the big box discount stores
are probably not your friend. You’ll surely tire of the five
pounds of anything before it is consumed. You might think you
are saving money but if you end up wasting some of what you
bought, then you haven’t saved anything.
packages. Continue to buy
the meat you enjoy but divide the package into smaller portions
and place some in the freezer. When buying something larger,
like a roast, you can ask at the meat counter for them to split
into two pieces for you.
leftovers? Reuse the leftovers in a new way so they have a fresh
taste. Roll the leftover baked chicken in a tortilla and top
with enchilada sauce and cheese. Add the leftover macaroni to a
can of chili for instant chili-mac.
vegetables in plastic bags. This allows you to pour out just the
right serving for two and reseal the bag to preserve the rest.
Rubber bands are great for this purpose.
Dry goods. For dry goods,
such as pastas, beans and rice, use what you need and then
reseal the container. Sometimes, you can just place the entire
box in a quart or gallon plastic bag and zip it shut to keep it
two pose a special challenge. While you can make a whole cake or
pie, you might not want to be tempted by having the entire cake
on that kitchen counter. Follow your favorite dessert recipes
but in small portions. Turn that cake recipe into cupcakes,
freezing some of them. Turn the pie recipe into tarts. Look for
dessert mixes that make an 8 x 8-inch size pan rather than a 9 x
13-inch pan. It is also possible to make half of a cake mix. Use
half of the mix with half of the listed ingredients and pour
into only one cake pan. Seal the bag with a twist tie for
another day. When making desserts, such as brownies or cookies,
divide them into individual portions and wrap them separately.
This way they are easy to grab and go.
bars. When making a
casserole that calls for half-cup of green pepper or a few ribs
of celery, head to the salad bar. Instead of an entire head of
celery going bad in the refrigerator drawer, you can scoop up
just the portion you need.
bags. Check out
with your lettuce -
fresh bags, produce preservation bags, and green bags.
If you have
trouble using fresh produce before it can go bad, try some of
the fresh produce bags, sometimes marketed as “green” bags.
These extend the life of produce.