Twice last week, I was talking to people who strive to eat healthfully; but, they get stuck because they are cooking for one. How do you cook for one, eat well and not eat the same thing a million days in a row?
Once every month to six weeks, I take a day and cook entrées. I did this on Sunday. I boiled a chicken, used the broth for butternut squash soup (that is also fantastic as a sauce for ravioli). I used some of the broth and some chicken for white chilli, the rest I divided into single servings. In fact, I divided everything into single servings and put them in the freezer along with the chicken breasts that I baked. In the mornings, I can remove whatever I want for dinner and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. In the evenings, while I am warming whatever the entrée is, I can steam some vegetables to go along with it and voila! A healthful dinner that didn’t take hours to fix.
This Sunday, I seasoned all of the chicken breasts with Montreal steak seasoning (it’s not just for steak anymore, dontcha know). Often, though, I cook each piece separately, wrapped in foil and seasoned differently. I like to use the steak seasoning, Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning, Italian dressing, ginger dressing, onions, teriyaki, or stone ground mustard. I use a lot of those same seasonings when I cook a pork loin that I’ve divided into portions with two servings each. For pork, I also like to use applesauce. Once the meat is cool, I just put the foil wrapped entrée inside a plastic bag, marking on the bag what’s inside and into the freezer it goes.
You can do this with most meats, although I would suggest cooking them until they are just done before freezing them. If they are overdone, they will dry out and be like shoe leather when you go to warm them up. Pot roast is great this way. I brown ground meats and put them in the freezer for easy additions to salads, tacos, eggs, or rice. I season the ground meat with Italian seasonings, chili seasonings, or just a lot of garlic. Again, I note on the outside of the plastic bag how it’s seasoned.
If you cook a few different things on that one day, you’ve got choices at hand every day; but, you’re not eating the same thing night after night. And, really, how much harder is it to cook five chicken breasts than it is to cook one?
With the things I cooked on Sunday, I’ve had white chili with rice and a green salad. I also had a green salad with chopped chicken. Then there was the butternut squash soup with a side of rutabagas and green beans. Tomorrow night will be baked chicken with asparagus and roasted carrots. There are all kinds of options here to keep my diet varied and healthful. It just took a little planning.