Cooking for One

Single people have long-lamented the challenges of cooking for one. Family-size packaging is the norm. I ain’t gonna lie. A preference for anything but leftovers has meant a lot of perfectly good food ends up in the trash.

Not anymore. Shortages, guilt, and a desire to minimize trips to the grocery have changed my wasteful ways. Watching chefs on Chopped deal with mystery baskets helped. As with the TV show, transforming the ingredients is the key to success. Thought my recipe ideas might inspire you as well.

Chicken thighs work better than breasts or tenders for leftovers. I season with salt and pepper and bake (375 for 20-25 minute) the whole package (usually six pieces). I eat two with sides for the first meal, make chicken salad for sandwiches with two more (sometimes three), and polish off the rest with a stir-fry.

Stir fry is almost as good as soup for using up all kinds of leftovers. A single-serving container of rice keeps it simple, but you could make your own. There’s usually enough leftover for lunch the next day.

Salmon has been available throughout the pandemic. I’m not a huge fan — the skin makes me want to puke. I remove the fillet from the package with tongs, drizzle both sides with olive oil, and slap it onto a foil-lined pan to bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes. That’s about twice as long as directed, but I prefer too done over not done enough.

Finding ways to use leftover salmon is a challenge. In case you missed it the first time, I really don’t care for it much. Once every week or two is okay, but two days in a row is an awfully big ask.

Stir fry doesn’t transform the salmon enough. The thought of salmon salad — another suggested use — gags me. Two things make anything better: adding bacon and/or frying. Bacon and salmon sounds like a waste of bacon. Frying, however, has possibilities.

After browsing lots of recipes, I substituted salmon in a recipe for crab cakes (with Panko bread crumbs). To further mask the fishy taste, I added lots of diced bell pepper. Sometimes I top the cakes with a simple cream sauce seasoned with dill. Mmmm. Yummy.

Cooking isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I don’t mind. Deciding what to fix is the hard part. Having leftovers I need to use narrows my options. I do get carryout or delivery now and then, but am really looking forward to sitting down to a nice dinner with friends in a good restaurant.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe!