Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How to Cook for One: Tips for Singles, Part II

Yesterday was all about what to buy when you're cooking for one. Today I'm going to share my three rules of thumb for how to buy groceries when you're single and what to do with them once they're yours (it's a big responsibility, caring for food, I know :) ).

When You Go Shopping

1. Make sure you're not hungry. It sounds simple, but it could save a donut's life. Seriously. If you go grocery shopping when your stomach is sounding the alarm, everything in sight will look irresistible. Your cart will end up loaded with food that either means death to your waistline or that will feed your household ant colony because you have no intention of actually eating it.

2. Avoid out-of-season foods. Yesterday's watermelon is back, and it looks better than ever in the middle of a long, cold winter. Resist the temptation. Groceries out of season, mostly produce and fish, make you pay dearly for the privilege of consuming them. If you're a single on a budget, put your craving on the back burner and promise it satisfaction in a few months. Then buy something in season that you like to make up for it.

3. Pay attention to sales and specials. Don't shop blindly. If you read the newspaper, take note of inserts with coupons as well as coupons that come with items you regularly buy. If you're a little scattered like many busy singles, keep an envelope in a designated place for collecting them. (Just make sure the envelope goes with you to the store!) You may also want to star or check items on your shopping list that have coupons so you don't forget to use them when you get there. Once inside, keep your eyes peeled for those cheery stickers announcing good deals. This is when it doesn't hurt to branch out from your shopping routine and shake things up. For example, if you're a Dannon loyalist and see a special on Yoplait, give it a try. You just might discover that your tastes are broader than you think.

When You're Home with Your Groceries

It's just you and the food now. Treat it well.

1. Freeze it. As soon as you get home, it's into the freezer for any fresh items that you won't use within the week. Obviously, nonrefrigeratables like unopened cans, mixes, and bottles of syrup, salad dressing, etc. can go in the pantry, not the freezer. But I bet you never thought about freezing butter or hamburger buns, huh? Yep, those can be frozen, along with the more traditional foods like poultry and beef. Just seal whatever fresh food you can't eat right away in plastic ziplock bags and make them comfortable in the freezer. When you're ready for them, thaw and eat. One note of caution: This strategy works well for bread products and meat, but be careful with produce. Some of it can be frozen immediately (eg., berries), some of it needs to be boiled first (eg., apples), and some of it can't be frozen at all (eg., lettuce).

2. Cut it. Whether you're whipping up a gourmet menu or following the directions on the back of the can, remember that you can cut recipes in halves, quarters, or even eighths to reconfigure them for one. It may seem self-explanatory, but if the recipe serves three, cut the ingredients to one-third; if it serves six, cut to one-sixth; and so on. When in doubt, make more rather than less because now you're going to...

3. Store it. Yes, this means the L word. You guessed it--leftovers. Just about anything can be refrigerated in plastic or tupperware containers and microwaved tomorrow, and it will be almost as good as it was today. (If you experience persistent "microwave dry-out," try adding a little water to the dish, then cover almost completely with plastic wrap. The water will be trapped inside, creating steam, so your food will remain moist. For solid foods like slices of bread, try wrapping in a wet paper towel.) Multiple meals are the sweet spot of cooking for one, so use them to your advantage.

Do you often cook for one and have shopping or meal preparation tips for other singles? Share them with us!

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