Cooking for one can be fun
Editor's note: West Linn Adult Community Center volunteer Mary Jean Rivera shares thoughts on easy meal preparation for singles. Read on for tips on cooking and enjoying meals for one.
By MARY JEAN RIVERA
For The Review, Tidings
My mother had her own theory of healthy eating for our family. Every meal had four ingredients: a raw vegetable, a cooked vegetable, a starch and some protein. Sometimes we got dessert too.
Fresh fruit was usually available in the kitchen. I still use that basic food group plan, now that I live alone, except I am not stingy with myself when it comes to dessert.
Living alone and food prep presents us each with challenges. Here are my best efficiency hints. Mark containers as you open them with the date, for health safety's sake. No "savings" is worth being sick.
Vegetables: Right after I market, I clean and cut up the carrots, celery, radishes, or whatever, and store them in airtight containers so I have no excuses for not eating them at least sometimes, if not every day. Prepared lettuce seems extravagant, until you don't eat any salads because it's "too much trouble." A little oil and vinegar, and some of the raw veggies, and maybe crumbled cheese is easy to do. I have learned that most any vegetable (asparagus, broccoli, etc.) in a covered glass dish with a little water cooks perfectly in the microwave set on "reheat."
Proteins: A whole cooked chicken is a good deal. Cut it into serving pieces and store them in separate small sacks, maybe even in the freezer. If you are fond of gravy as I am, purchase meat gravy in a jar, and pour it over cut up chicken and cut up bread. Beef, pork and chicken also come in reasonable amounts in the prepared food aisles, precooked, easy to heat. I love a slice of bacon, so I cut the package in half when I get it home and freeze half right away. Eggs have good keeping power, and make a quick meal of perfect protein (unless forbidden by your doctor). Cheeses and yogurt go with any meal. Butter or butter substitutes are essential oils, so don't omit them entirely.
Starches: Seeds of Change brand of organic quinoa, rice and bean mixes microwave in 90 seconds, and are very good. A package has two servings, so cook once and you gave great leftovers. Pasta (in all shapes and sizes) generally cooks in less than 10 minutes. Just add marinara. Small cans of beans are only worth two meals. Bread, rolls, scones, donuts and cookies keep longer in the refrigerator, and soften nicely in the microwave. Frozen foods stand ready when I don't get an invitation to eat out. Amy's enchiladas and Stouffer's lasagna are my favorite standbys now.
Condiments like pickles will add a crunchy healthy side.
Desserts: I have learned to go straight to pure chocolate! Detours through cookies and ice cream involve a lot more calories. Read the labels on ice cream containers and choose the ones with the fewest ingredients, in small containers. If you must, buy a small cake or pie, not a big one. No point in going too far with cutting out calories. We have already arrived at an age deserving of dessert.
West Linn Adult Center has a
great lunch on Monday, Wednes-
day, and Fridays for $5, that includes company, which makes it even bet-
The menu this week features taco casserole, chips and salsa and peppers and onions plus banana pudding on Friday, Aug. 23; chicken alfredo on penne pasta with zucchini and strawberry cream pie on Monday, Aug. 26 and chicken orzo soup, chicken salad sandwiches and carrot cake on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
The West Linn Adult Community Center is located at 1180 Rosemont Road.
Call 503-557-4704 for more information.
Mary Jean Rivera is a volunteer at the West Linn Adult Community Center.
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