I am single, live alone, and have a pretty heavy work schedule: I work late (8 or 9) most nights during the week and also also travel about two weeks a month on business.
When I’m not travelling, for dinner I wind up (1) getting takeout Indian, Tie or Italian, (2) eating fast food, or (3) eating some kind of frozen pizza, or (4) eating convenience food like popcorn or canned chili or something.
I’d like to get a better plan together. I’d like to eat more healthy, and spend less money (eating out is EXPENSIVE).
But, I don’t really know how to cook, and also I feel like I don’t have enough time to cook when I get home late so regularly.
Any suggestions or advice?
Spaghetti. Get a big jar of Prego and some ground beef. Cook the ground beef and add the Prego. Cook the pasta and drain. Put the sauce in the pasta. Eat it for days.
Steak. Get a 2½-pound chuck roast. Coat it with McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning. Cook it on the BBQ grill. Eat it for days.
Ham hocks and blackeyed peas. Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse. Put the beans into a crock pot. Add a couple of ham hocks. Cook in the crock pot six to eight hours. Remove the skin and bones from the ham hocks. Eat for days.
Taco burritos. Brown a couple of pounds of ground beef. Add a packet of taco seasoning and cook according to directions. Wrap in flour tortillas with lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped onions and sour cream. Store the components in the fridge and eat for days.
Beef stroganoff. Slice up a couple of cube steaks and cook in a skillet. Add a pint of sour cream, chopped onions (you can cook the onions with the meat, or you can put them in with the sour cream if you like them crunchy), and some Worcestershire sauce. Heat thoroughly. Serve over rice or noodles. Eat for days.
Teriyaki salmon. Score a salmon fillet lengthwise down to the skin. Score it crosswise down to the skin an inch or so apart. Put onto aluminum foil and douse with Soy Vay Very Very Teriyaki. Wrap in the foil and bake in the oven at about 350°F for as long as it takes depending on the size of the fillet. Open the foil for the last five minutes or so.
Thai Beer. Call Thai Beer on Washington and have them deliver a selection. Eat Thai food for days.
Cuban roast pork. Call Versailles on Venice (or the other one – La Cienega?) and get the Cuban roast pork. It comes with pork, white rice, black beans and fried bananas and costs around $8 or so. Eat it for two or three meals.
Tito’s Tacos. On Washington at Sepulveda. Tasty and inexpensive.
Some frozen food is better for you than frozen pizza, and if there’s a sale you can get Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice meals for $2-3 each. Most restaurants have a few healthier choices. Since you’re traveling so much, you need to watch your diet on the road.
If you’re serious about wanting to eat better, you might consult with a registered dietician, who can help you identify foods you like and will eat that are healthier for you. (The cost might be covered by your company’s wellness program.) Some people hire private chefs to prepare a week’s worth of meals and leave them in the refrigerator. That costs some money, but it might be cheaper than eating out all the time and it can also be healthier.
There must be a Trader Joe’s near you, seeing as you live in the great state of California. Go there, and buy:
- A bunch of their non-crapfilled frozen prepared foods (I particularly enjoy their green salsa chicken burritos, seafood stirfry pack and their cajun salmon filet that goes straight from freezer to oven without defrosting)
- Jarred simmer sauces – they have Indian sauces, Thai sauces, Moroccan sauces, and others – just add protein of your choice, simmer, serve over rice, enjoy.
- Several bags of frozen veggies (way better than supermarket frozen veggies) and bagged salads (same as supermarket, slightly better price)
- A couple packs of their chicken sausages (I like Garlic flavor, my SO likes Jalapeno). A couple chicken sausages + some bagged salad = dinner!
Realistically, you don’t have time to cook properly on an everyday basis. Your other option is to make a whopping batch of something every weekend (lasagne, beefstew, chili) and freeze it in indidivual portions for use throughout the week.
That should have been ‘Veri Veri Teriyaki’.
Prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. Get a prime rib. (CostCo’s are good.) Pre-heat the oven to 475°F. Put the meat in a pan. Season with salt and pepper, and some rosemary if you have any. Stick a meat thermometer in it. Put the meat in the oven for about 45 minutes (for a good-sized roast). Turn the heat down to 375°F and cook until the thermometer reads 140°F (rare). Remove the meat from the oven and allow it to ‘rest’ for about half an hour. (It will continue to cook as it ‘rests’.) If you have any drippings, use them to make gravy. Mix a cup of flour, a cup of milk, two eggs, and ¼ tsp. salt. Use a little of the beef drippings to coat the bottom of the baking pan. Pour the Yorkshire pudding batter into the pan and bake in the over about 20 minutes.
There are tons of recipe books out there that are simple. There’s “cooking for dummies” I believe, and I’m sure there’s “cooking for bachelors”. Try one of those.
Chop up some skinless chicken thighs. Throw them in a crock put with TJ’s Curry Simmer Sauce and cook them in a slow-cooker until the chicken is done. (You can also cook the chicken beforehand, but I like it better when it cooks in the sauce.) Slice some sirloin thinly and cook it. Add it to Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce.
A side dish that’s good with a couple of the recipes in my first post is asparagus. Snap off the bottoms of a bunch of asparagus and put it in a skillet. Add some water, cover, and cook on the stove until it reaches the desired done-ness. (Could be two minutes, could be longer. Depends on how crisp you like it.)
Edamame. Get some frozen soybeans. Boil them two minutes in salted water. Drain and chill. Snack on them like peanuts in the shell. (Or just get the pre-cooked ones from TJ’s.)
The best cookbook for beginning cooks is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Besides providing a large amount of simple, low-on-ingredients, tasty and classic recipes, he really starts teaching beginning cooks how to vary and improvise recipes and become confident cooking anything with or without a recipe.
As a single bachelor, I like to keep several bags of frozen vegetables and/or frozen pre-cooked meats (e.g. chicken, sausage, imitation-crab-type seafood—I don’t want to mess around with raw meat) to use as add-ins. I’ll often make one of those packages of Rice & Sauce or Noodles & Sauce or Pasta-Roni type things according to the microwave directions (which basically involves throwing the ingredients in a big bowl, stirring, and microwaving) except I’ll add in some veggies and maybe some meat. Satisfying, very little preparation time, and only one dish to wash afterward.
Go get yourself Delia Smith’s One Is Fun. Steak and potatoes is easy to cook. Ditto a small joint - buy from the supermarket and they often have instructions; cook the joint on the Sunday with potatoes and greens - mangetout peas require little more than dunking in boiling water - and you’ve got cold meat for the next few days.
Also, try shifting your main meal to lunchtime and eat in the works canteen.
I was all set with a bunch of recipies, but in re-reading your OP I had a thought:
Imagine if this thread was titled, “Need laundry advice for a bachelor.” And that you don’t have time for laundry, so you usually pick up some socks on the way to work, or wash a single pair of boxers when you get the chance.
We’d all laugh because we know its easier to do an entire load of laundry at a time.
So my advice is to invest in some REALLY good tupperware (Glad and Ziplock make good ones now), and get some high quality ziplock freezer bags (big ones). Then treat cooking like laundry, heck you should be cooking while you’re waiting for laundry. The key is to cook for about 4-6 people when ever you have the time to cook, and then bag and/or freeze as much of it as you can. Chili works great for this, as does pot-roast (my favourite), speghetti sauce, and lasagna.
As you find recipies that you like (many of the above sound good), try to always make enough so that you have some to freeze.
While I’m here I thought I’d suggest a couple of easy recipies since I noticed you like Indian and Thai food.
Easy Butter Chicken: Buy a jar of Patak’s Mild (or hot) Curry Paste. It costs about $3.50 and will last about a month of heavy use. In a sauce pan, heat 2 Tbls of oil with 2 Tbles of paste until combined. Add some pieces of chicken (about two breasts) and cook (about 5-8min). Add two cans of tomato soup, and one can of coconut milk. Let simmer for about 10-20min, then serve with rice. This recipe can be made more complicated by adding some fresh garlic and ginger at the start, or some fesh celantro at the end.
Thai Green Curry: In a sauce pan, heat 2tbls of oil with 2tbls of curry past, then add one can of coconut milk. Toss in some frozen veggies of your choice, simmer until cooked. Serve with rice. If you want, this recipe is made better with the addition of whole basil leaves, some lemon or lime juice, a little fish sauce, and some sugar.
The previous posts have great advice, but maybe you need some up close and personal instruction. Check with your local newspaper food section to see if there are any ads for cooking classes. I know that the Washington Post runs a few pages listing all the classes available when autumn hits. There are classes for haute cuisine, Asian, special diets, etc. Try to find a class for novice cooks, talk to the instructor at the class so you two can come up with workable solutions. Generally, you make a full meal, taste everything and come away with several recipes you can make by yourself. Hope this helps.
Surely I’m not the only person anal enough to be bothered by the redundancy in “single bachelor”?
Hmm, is anything like that available in the States?
I can’t say for certain, I only know that’s its extremely common now in Canada. I can find it at all of the major grocery stores, and just about all smaller, ethnic stores. Since you sound interested, I’d also like to suggest the vindaloo paste. It is a WICKED hot curry that is used to stew/braise beef (or lamb or pork) in a tomato sauce. Patak’s has a US website here.
Another vote for freezing. That way you can cook when you have time, and reheat when you don’t.