Providing interesting, satisfying meals for one or two people

Almost 1 of every 4 households consists of only one person, according to the 1980 census. This can be a satisfying and positive way of life with certain advantages. But it can present problems for single meal-planners who may once have been accustomed to buying and providing meals for a spouse or a family.

It means changes - changes in shopping patterns, cooking equipment, and measurements.

Large-quantity bargains are not as practical as they once were. Fresh produce may spoil before you can use it, and canned, packaged, and frozen foods may be too much to consume without losing interest in meal planning and appetite.

You must learn the right proportions for each meal unless you purposely welcome leftovers. Consider these tips:

* Cut packages of frozen vegetables in two.

* Learn how much pasta or rice makes exactly the right size serving.

* Purchase smaller saucepans and baking dishes.

* Learn the baking time for divided recipes and how to test for doneness.

* Try making half a loaf cake. Hunt for recipes for making small desserts as well as main dishes.

Meals you eat alone need not be drab or uninteresting. Nor need you live on canned soup, sandwiches, and scrambled eggs.

Make your meals a celebration. Present food attractively so you can appreciate the color and arrangement on pretty dishes that you don't keep stored away for company.

Mealtime should be a period of serenity, a feeling that you will never experience if you eat hurriedly at a counter or, worse yet, skip dinner entirely.

Remember that there is no need to sacrifice quality or variety just because you are not cooking a large amount of food. Here are some dishes around which you can plan miniature meals. Each serves one or two and allows for no leftovers.

Casseroles that provide a single serving or twin portion are sometimes practical because there is no need for a side-dish. They are also small enough to cook in a ''toaster'' oven. Dilly Lamb Stew l pound boneless lamb, cut in 3/4-inch cubes 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon dried dillweed 1 cup water 1 cup sliced carrot 1/2 cup sliced celery 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1/2 cup cold water 1/2 cup dairy sour cream Trim any fat from lamb. Rub skillet with fat; discard. Brown lamb in skillet. Sprinkle with salt and dillweed. Add the 1 cup of water. Cover and simmer about 35 minutes, or until almost tender. Add carrot and celery. Cook 15 minutes more. Blend flour with the 1/2 cup water. Stir into stew. Cook until mixture thickens and boils. Stir in sour cream. Heat through. Serves 2. Lemony Fish Fillets l tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice 1/2 pound fish fillets Salt and pepper 1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs Combine Worcestershire and lemon juice. Cut fish in serving-size pieces. Dip pieces in lemon juice mixture, then season with salt and pepper. Dip in bread crumbs. Bake in greased shallow pan in 500 degree F. oven about 15 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce. Serves 2. Noodles Parmesan 6 tablespoons butter, softened 1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened 1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed Salt Pepper 1/3 cup boiling water 3 ounces thin noodles 1/2 clove garlic, minced 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese Combine 2 tablespoons of butter, cream cheese, parsley, basil, pinch of salt, and dash of pepper. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water. Mix well. Keep warm. Cook noodles; drain. Cook garlic in remaining butter 1 to 2 minutes. Pour over hot noodles. Toss. Add half the Parmesan cheese. Toss lightly. Pile noodles on serving plate. Spoon sauce over. Top with remaining Parmesan. Serves 2. Curried Chicken Breasts With Mushroom Gravy 2 whole chicken breasts, halved 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt Paprika 1 chicken bouillon cube 2/3 cup boiling water 2 tablespoons water 1/4 teaspoon instant minced onion 1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 2-ounce can sliced mushrooms Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt and paprika. Place in small baking dish. Dissolve bouillon cube in 2/3 cup boiling water. Add the 2 tablespoons water, onion, curry. Pour over chicken. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Uncover. Bake 45 minutes or till tender. Remove chicken to platter. Blend 1 tablespoon flour and 2 tablespoons cold water in saucepan. Stir in pan juices. Cook and stir till bubbly. Drain mushrooms. Add to gravy. Heat through. Spoon over chicken. Serves 2. Hot and Peppy Potatoes Packaged instant mashed potatoes 1/4 cup dairy sour cream 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard 1/4 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon snipped green onion Prepare 2 servings potatoes according to package directions. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon into 2 foil baking shells. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees F. about 20 minutes, or until heated through. Serves 2.

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