Cooking for Two Made Easy
While cooking for one comes out on top for complexity in the kitchen, cooking for two can be just as problematic — especially if you aren't big fans of leftovers. Wasting food and money are the last things you want, but when family packs and larger-than-life boxes dominate the grocery scene, it can be hard to avoid. These super simple strategies will change all that.
1. Invest in some serious storage containers.
Unless you have a bulk store nearby, where you can purchase the perfect amount of just about anything, buying a standard-sized box is unavoidable. For things you don't consume on the regular, this could mean food goes stale before you're able to finish it — not exactly wallet-friendly. Storing food in airtight containers will keep it fresher longer, so you can get the most bang for your buck.
2. Befriend the butcher and your friendly fish monger.
Freezing is a great tactic if you end up buying more meat and seafood than you can consume in a given week, but if you're constantly forgetting to defrost ingredients for dinner, you'll need another strategy. By hitting up the butcher and fish counter at the supermarket, or heading to a specialty shop, you'll be able to order exactly what you need to get dinner on the table — no more, no less. Another benefit? If you're not sure how much you need of a given ingredient to satisfy two, like mussels for example, ordering at the counter affords the opportunity to speak with someone who knows. Sometimes staff is even willing to help accommodate singles and couples, so never be afraid to ask for something more suited to your needs!
3. Think small.
It's hard not to get sucked in by all those “great deals" that line the aisles — who doesn't want to save a few bucks? But when shopping for two, sometimes it's best to throw logic out the window. Sure the unit price on that three-pound package of potatoes might be better, but if you're buying with a specific recipe in mind, it's best to go for the smaller size. If you don't make the most of your purchase and allow food to go bad before you have a chance to eat it, you really haven't done yourself any favors. If food can be frozen, on the other hand, then taking home the larger package is probably your best bet.
4. Be resourceful.
Shopping for two is easily mastered, but sometimes its the actual cooking part is where it really gets tricky. Cookbooks like One Pan Two Plates by Carla Snyder, The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen, Joanna Pruess's Soup for Two: Small-Batch Recipes for One, Two or a Few and Julie Wampler's Dinner for Two: Easy and Innovative Recipes for One, Two, or a Few are an excellent place to gather inspiration and get the hang of two-person cuisine. The interwebs also boast their fair share of two-person-appropriate recipes, thanks to blogs like Table for Two, Dessert for Two and Healthy for Two.
5. Know your portions.
You can certainly half a recipe and hope for the best, especially if you don't mind freezing leftover food or reusing it in another way the next night. But if you have major leftover-phobia, familiarizing yourself with portions is essential. Four to eight ounces of protein is appropriate for most people, though the actual amount will also depend on what else you plan on serving with it. If the side is more substantial, a smaller amount of protein shouldn't prove to be a problem. For grains, one cup (cooked), give or take, should do the do the trick, while two to three ounces of pasta is an average portion for an individual — unless of course you like a hefty bowl, then by all means add more. But don't forget to consider sauces and additional ingredients as well. If you're like us, you like a healthy portion of veg at every meal and for us that means at least a cup. Keep in mind that when cooked, vegetables can change in size, especially when roasted or sautéed in the case of leafy greens.
6. Take note.
It's not a bad idea to keep track of recipes as you make them — what worked, what didn't, how much of each ingredient you used — so that you develop a better understanding of portion sizes, successfully reducing recipes and more.
Featured image via Love and Lemons