Living alone has taught me a ton about doing things on my own. The most obvious and most shell-shocking is cooking for one. It's more complicated than just heating up a meal or making a quesadilla if you're trying to eat healthy and stay on a budget. Buying smart helps so much in the long run, and it's been one of the hardest skills to master (behind cleaning a shower drain. Still working on that skill). I buy much more frozen than I would've imagined—this way, fish and vegetables don't go bad right away and I don't have to shape my whole life around the fresh produce I buy. When I do buy fresh—and I obviously try to do this above all else—I've had to learn to back down from buying tons of it. Even if there's a deal on Braeburn apples or avocados, I'm probably not going to get through all of those before they're too old. So I buy just one or two. On nights where I'm only cooking dinner for myself, I try to treat myself a bit. I really do enjoy the process of cooking, and grew up in a family where home-cooked meals were an every-night kind of thing. While shortcuts do help, I get more satisfaction from starting from scratch. So I combine the two methods and create something satisfying.
One of my favorite meals to whip up is pasta and veggies. It's an amazing standby that can be dressed up or down. Today, I made whole-wheat angel hair with salmon, chopped broccoli, and basil pesto. The salmon and broccoli were both frozen.
I am actually obsessed with this olive oil right now. Sometimes Extra Virgin gets to be a bit much for me, so this extra-light is the perfect balance. I use it with everything—roasting veggies/potatoes, pasta, on air-popped popcorn (with a little sea salt)...it's a life-saver.
The process for this is stupid easy. I start the water for the pasta, then get the salmon all ready on a baking sheet. I just throw on a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and some chopped onion and basil. I throw the salmon filet in the oven at 375º (17 min) and start cooking the pasta (10 min). The steamed veggies are a serious staple at my place—there's no excuse not to add some broccoli, peas, or corn to a meal when you literally just throw the bag in the microwave for 6 minutes. Easy peasy!
I combine everything with some of this Stonewall Kitchen basil pesto, and pour a little white wine—that might not have been hard work, but there was definitely some work involved. Time to catch up on New Girl!
What's your go-to meal when you're cooking for one? Let me know in the comments!