For most middle-aged country women, we’ve grown used to cooking for a family, maybe 4 or 5 (or more) people. But there comes a time when the kids grow up and move out on their own, and it’s down to you and your hubby, or maybe just down to you and you are now cooking for 1 or 2.
How do you go from cooking for a group to cooking for just one or two?
The appetites of growing children and middle-aged adults are different. You can cook food that is lighter, now, and you can cook less of it. How hearty your meals need to be depends on how hard you work, though. If you both work hard on the farm, you need more than if you are semi-retired and not very active.
As we age, do you find that certain foods cause gas? Or maybe everything does? LOL. You can adjust what you cook to the foods that feel better on your stomach, or that cause the least upset.
Dinner for two can be a calm, peaceful activity, accentuated with a sharing of ‘guess what happened to me today’ or ‘guess who I saw today’. The last thing you want is to feel that there’s no use cooking for ‘just us’ or ‘just me’. You – or you and your spouse – deserve to eat well and to enjoy all that life has to offer at this new stage in life.
You can set a nice table in the dining room any day you want to. But you don’t necessarily need to eat in the dining room, or even at the kitchen table. You can eat in the living room with old-fashioned tv trays or folding tables, or you can eat out on the deck if the weather cooperates. You can relax, now, and make things fun and interesting. Even if you’re cooking for one or two.
Think about packing a lunch and heading to the park or the beach. Maybe not in the winter, but in nice weather, picnics can be very enjoyable. All by yourself? Take a friend, 2-legged or 4-legged. Or enjoy the peace of spending a little time by yourself.
Eat on a tray in your favorite easy chair while you watch one of your favorite movies on tv. Getting older should have perks.
So, we’ve covered how to make cooking for 1 or 2 more fun, but how do you turn your recipes for 6 into a recipe for 2? After all, most recipes are for 4 to 6 servings, right?
It depends on how much you enjoy leftovers.
If you don’t mind leftovers, you can make a pot of stew and eat on it for 3 days. Or, if that’s not appetizing to you, you can cut the ingredients in half, or freeze half. Did you used to make a double batch of lasagna and freeze one for later? Scale down, and bake one, and freeze half of it for another night. Used to baking a sheet cake that the kids would finish off in a couple days? Instead, bake two 8×8 inch size cakes and freeze one. Or bake one 8×8 inch cake and a dozen cupcakes. Freeze one or the other.
You can still enjoy the price savings of buying the family pack of meat, but when you get home, divide it into usable portions and freeze it that way. If there’s 2 of you, and you don’t mind leftovers, put 4 pork chops or chicken breasts in a freezer container. That way, you can cook 2 meals at once when you decide to thaw them later.
Imagine the freedom of not having to make huge meals every day. Cook once and eat 2 or 3 days. I love that! Just pull something out of the freezer the night before. Easy peasy. Cook 3 things with one serving of leftovers each, and eat all week. Well, almost.
Some things freeze better than others. Pasta and potatoes can get soggy after being frozen. Cooked rice freezes well. Cream soups don’t freeze well because the milk separates, but broth soups do freeze well. I find chili freezes well. Remember to wrap things well, in aluminum foil or wax paper, then in a freezer bag. Or use plastic containers made for freezing. Bread can be frozen. If you find you don’t get thru a loaf of bread before it gets moldy or stale, freeze half of it for later.
For lots of tips on freezing food safely, check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website. Here’s a link:
Also, now that it’s down to you two (or just you), you can spend a little more on the cuts of meat, or products you buy. You can splurge on going out once in a while. It’s cheaper for 1 or 2 than for 6. Or you can eat leaner. You can try new recipes that the kids might not have liked. You can also spend a little more time on setting a nice table. I mean it’s not like little Joe is going to spill his milk all over Grandma’s lace table cloth now.
You can also splurge a little on desserts once in a while, since you’re only cooking for 1 or 2.
Here’s an old recipe from the cookbook, Betty Crocker’s New Dinner for Two, copyright 1964.
Individual Brownie Alaska
Bake brownies as directed on our fudge brownie mix pkg (or make your own). Cut two 3 x 2-1/4″ pieces. Make meringue by beating 1 egg white until stiff; add 2 tbsp sugar gradually and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Place brownie pieces on baking sheet covered with double thickness of aluminum foil. Top each piece with a slice of hard brick vanilla ice cream (or any flavor). Cover with meringue, being certain it completely covers ice cream and comes down to foil. Back at 450 degrees (hot) for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. 2 servings.
The only thing I’m not sure of in this recipe is the aluminum foil. It doesn’t say to take it out, so I guess ‘eat carefully’. 🙂 I remember making Baked Alaska in high school home ec class. But we didn’t use aluminum foil that I recall.
Here’s a newer version from the Betty Crocker website. See the link below the picture for the instructions. That looks like a zillion calories doesn’t it? But super good too!
So, enjoy the lightened load of not having to cook huge meals every day. Try new recipes. Go out to eat once in a while. Pare down the recipes you’ve always loved. If you don’t want the leftovers, share them with someone who could use the home cooked meal. Enjoy the life you have now.
As with all things in our lives, the only constant is change. You can’t go backwards, you have to go forwards, so make it enjoyable.