Friday, March 9, 2012
Widow or Widower Living Alone - Cooking and Eating For One
One of the most difficult aspects of becoming a widow was to learn to cook for one. My first attempts resulted in a lot of over cooking and wasted meals. After some trial and error I finally came up with helpful ways to cook and eat for one without waste.
Sometimes I can't eat an entire loaf of bread before it spoils. When I buy a loaf of bread, I take a zip close freezer bag, quart size, and put four slices of bread in each bag. I put these bags into the freezer. When I need bread, I simply take out a four slice bag, let it thaw and I have bread that will last one or two days.
Milk often spoils before I can drink a full quart. I use cleaned 12 oz water bottles or cleaned 12 oz pop bottles, fill them 3/4 full of milk and freeze. When the milk I have in the refrigerator is getting low, I take out a 12 oz bottle of frozen milk and thaw in the refrigeration, Usually takes 2 days.
I had been used to cooking for a larger family, but as my children left home and my husband died, it was difficult for me to downsize my cooking. When I cooked food, I always made too much. I got tired of eating the same thing for days at a time. I didn't want to waste the food.
Shortly after my husband died, I began buying single serve frozen meals. I bought the best quality meals with the least sodium. They came in black, plastic, microwave trays. For some reason, I started washing and saving these trays. This proved to be very beneficial.
Now when I prepare a casserole or hot dish, such as spaghetti, goulash or stroganoff, I freeze portions for later use in these black trays. At first, before I had enough trays, I used freezer, zip close plastic bags.
After you cook you casserole or hot dish, decide if you want to eat one or two meals from it. Usually there is four portions when I cook. I take a zip close quart freezer bag and put one proton it each bag. I then put these smaller bags in a larger gallon size freezer bag. The double bagging keeps the meal from getting frost bit. Now that I have these black serving trays, I use them for my cooked meals. After putting the food into the tray, I wrap each portion in plastic wrap and place this in a quart freezer bag. If the tray is larger, I use a gallon freezer bag.
The outer freezer bags can be reused since they have not touched any food. These trays of food can either be micro waved or put in a pan, on low heat, to heat through.
Spaghetti noodles and spaghetti sauce freeze well. I put a single proton of noodles in a sandwich size plastic zip bag and them put these smaller bags into a gallon freezer bag. I do the same with the spaghetti sauce. When I want a meal I take out a bag of noodles and a bag of sauce. I put the sauce in a pan on low heat and once it softens, I add the noodles and heat through.
Pastas freeze well, even with a sauce on them, such as a stroganoff.
I buy my lunch meats from the meat or deli counter in the store. I buy 1/2 pound so I can eat it before it spoils. If I can't make frequent trips to the store, or I buy a pre-packaged meat, I portion it to three or four slices and put them into a sandwich size plastic zip bag and put those smaller bags into a quart or gallon freezer bag. When I want some lunch meat, I take out one small bag and thaw in the refrigerator.
When I buy hamburger, I make the entire package into patties. I put one patty each into a small, sandwich size bag and put these into a freezer gallon size bag. If I just want to make a hamburger, I take out one or two patties. If I am making a hamburger dish, I take out three or four patties, depending upon the size of the patties and how much hamburger I need for the hot dish or casserole.
This same process can be used for pork chops or steaks. I wait for a sale on steaks, cut them into a meal size portion and freeze them using this same process.
I prefer to buy frozen vegetables over canned because it is easier to use smaller portions. Once I buy a package of frozen vegetables, I put the store bag into a gallon freezer bag. This prevents frost bite and ruined vegetables if I take too long to eat the whole bag. When I want some vegetables to eat, I removed the amount I want, re close the freezer bag and put it back in the freezer. Steaming frozen vegetables offers the most nutrition since boiling washes away much of the nutrition.
I don't like frozen peas so I either eat fresh or canned. Once I open the can, I rinse the peas to get rid of the canning salts. Then I either steam or microwave my peas. Cooking them in the canning liquid retains the salt and cooks away the nutrition.
If I buy fresh or frozen fish portions, I cook them, and then add a portion of mashed potatoes and frozen vegetables, put them into a black plastic tray, cover and freezer. When I want an all in one meal, I will take it from the freezer, warm it up and I have my meal done.
Occasionally, I will trade parts of larger portions of food, such as lettuce, bags of fruits or potatoes with my sister. I may give her half of my lettuce and she will give me potatoes or fruits in exchange. That way we get variety without spoilage that may happen if I try to eat a whole head of lettuce of a full bag of apples.
I don't like eating alone and often skip eating because I don't want to prepare a meal for just me. Preparing and portion freezing meals when I am in the mood, makes it easier to sit down and eat a meal alone.
Trial and error and experimenting with portion freezing is the best way to discover which of your favorite meals can be portion frozen.
I hope this information has been useful and wish you the best in your adjustment time of learning to be a widow or widower living alone