While many of the library patrons served by the Outreach department are residents in facilities that provide them with daily meals, not all of them are. Several are retired couples, or individuals who live in their own homes and apartments. They are responsible for their own food choices and preparation and in that respect; they fall into a category of household that is becoming more and more standard these days.

No longer is the large family the norm.  There are many singles and couples, and they all want to feed themselves well.  Statistics back this up, with at present one-third of American families containing only two people. 

-from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two

Whether you’re a retired individual, a young adult moving into your first apartment, a bachelor or bachelorette, a pair of newlyweds, or an empty-nester, you will be faced with the new territory of either cooking for yourself for the first time, or cooking smaller sized meals than you have in the past. During these challenges, it’s dangerously easy to fall into the takeout/pizza delivery trap. Learning how to adjust your skills and cook at home is better in the long run for both your health and your wallet. Plus, you’ll avoid the dreaded, “what do you want?”, “I don’t know, what sounds good to you?” exchange that can go on endlessly and frustrate even the most generally unflappable individuals.

According to research, most people who cook for themselves use and rotate, at most, only a dozen or so recipes…thus everyday meals can become so routine that any mealtime excitement is lost.

-from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two

I can say from personal experience that the statement above is true. While living alone, and even now that I’m married, I have about eight to ten recipes I always find myself falling back on. It gets boring, and I have to challenge myself to find new dinner possibilities.  Adding new recipes to the mix is crucial to keeping yourself from getting stuck in a cooking rut, and constantly finding new cooking inspiration is necessary if you plan to keep to your “cooking at home” commitment. Sure, there will be nights when you just don’t want to have to think about what to cook, and you’ll find yourself eating a bowl of cereal while standing in the kitchen (and that’s okay!). Maybe you’ll start thinking longingly about that takeout menu stashed in the kitchen drawer, or the fact that so many pizza places have online delivery ordering now, how convenient! But none of these options should become your nighttime habit!

Cooking well for two does have its challenges, as anyone knows who has tried to break down that recipe that serves 4…or 6…or 8 and wound up trying to measure 1/6 teaspoon of an herb or to halve an egg.

-from EatingWell Serves Two

This dilemma is where cookbooks and recipes specifically designed to only serve one or two people come in handy.  I’ve had many recipes in the past that I thought I would be able to halve easily, only to be severely disappointed with the end result. Search for cookbooks geared toward making cooking for two easier and more enjoyable – they’re out there!!! We have many of them at the library, including the two I referenced above in this post. If you prefer to do your recipe searching online, just Googling phrases such as “meals for two” or “cooking for two” will give you pages upon pages of websites and blogs dedicated to creating and sharing of smaller-yield recipes.

As with any cooking endeavor, sometimes the best approach is to find recipes you love, use good, fresh ingredients, and create flavors you enjoy.  But don’t be afraid to try new things! That’s another advantage to cooking smaller – if you don’t end up liking it, you don’t have to feel guilty for wasting a large amount of costly ingredients. You can chalk it up to a lesson learned and move on the next new recipe with excitement!

Ashlee Brown

Outreach Services -Programmer

Sources:

Hensperger, Beth.  Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two. The Harvard Common Press.  Boston, Massachusetts.  2007.

Romanoff, Jim.  EatingWell Serves Two: 150 Healthy in a Hurry Suppers.  The Countryman Press.  Woodstock, Vermont.  2006.

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