My ex-husband was a person with NIKOPAP – no inner knowledge of pots and pans. Whenever he was in charge of a meal, we ate fruit and nuts. I scoffed at this at the time. Now I see it as a viable option.
Meanwhile, my late boyfriend, Big Irv, boasted that when he got divorced, he promised himself he would still prepare real meals. I was skeptical until he introduced me to his definition of a real meal – a hunk of grilled meat, a baked potato, and a glob of some formerly-frozen vegetable.
Meanwhile, when I cook, I pull out the RECIPES! I put this in all capital letters because many of my recipes are BIG projects. Therefore, as I struggle with cooking-for-one, I’m thinking the R word is at fault. My new game plan is to remember the acronym, K.I.S.S. – keep it simple, stupid – and proceed accordingly.
If you are likewise sick of cooking follow me as I try to simplify things with five suggestions and one warning.
Suggestion #1: Ex-hubby and Big Irv as role models:
In both cases, these men forsook fancy recipes and managed to get a protein and some produce into their bodies. No need to look down upon it, this method works.
- A can of tuna + jarred pickled beets + tomato slices = a meal.
- Two scrambled eggs + half an avocado + an apple = a meal.
Yes, this can be boring, so I can’t do it all of the time, but a big perk to this game plan is that it is nutritious while being very low in calories. A lunch at 300-ish calories is a great concept!
Suggestion #2: Let VERY easy recipes come to the rescue:
I’ll be frank, even if I Google easy recipes, sheet pan recipes, or dump-and-go recipes, the recipes are still more than I want to handle. Really?! They want me to measure out five different seasonings and use three pots in the process?! Not gonna happen.
Here’s a vegetarian main dish that is more to my liking. It has a total of 5 ingredients and is made in one pot. No measuring cups or spoons required. My apologies, though, you will have a knife, a cutting board, and a colander to wash after preparing this.
Black Beans and Rice (This makes 2 or 3 servings for me):
- One bag of Success brand Boil-in-Bag Brown Rice
- One medium onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 16 oz jar of Pace Chunky Salsa – mild, medium, or hot, your choice.
- Cook the rice in a 2-quart pot, then set the rice pouch aside.
- In the same pot – empty it, but no need to wash it – melt the butter and sauté the onion.
- Add the rice and beans to the pot. Stir in all or some of the salsa as per your taste.
- Put a glob of it in a bowl, zap it in the microwave, and eat.
No need to wash the pot yet. Use it to store the leftovers in the refrigerator.
Suggestion #3: Make easy recipes easier still using the A-B-C method:
There are days when even easy recipes are more than I can bear. On those days I can make substitutions using A-B-C products. In the recipe above, I can use
- Already-Been-Cooked rice by purchasing Minute brand’s heat and eat rice
- Already-Been-Chopped onions found in the produce department of the grocery store or in the freezer case.
I apologize, you’ll still need to wash that colander after draining the black beans.
Here’s a great very easy recipe using A-B-C spices.
- A jumbo Ziploc bag
- 4 or 5 cups of raw vegies cut in chunks such as a whole cauliflower cut into flowerets or a purple onion + 2 colorful peppers
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Already-Been-Combined spices in the form of a pouch of Good Seasons dressing mix. DON’T turn it into salad dressing first, just pour the dry spices (0.75 oz size) into the Ziploc bag.
- Place vegies, olive oil, and spices in the Ziploc bag, shake to combine
- Pour coated vegetables out onto a rimmed baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper
- Roast in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes.
Good news! Thanks to the parchment paper, you will not need to wash the baking sheet!
More good news: If you use two pounds of chicken tenders instead of vegies in the above recipe, and roast the chicken at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (to an internal temperature of 165 degrees) you will have a delicious main dish.
Suggestion #4: Change your mindset; change your life
As part of the prep for cooking I need to gather up all the ingredients for the dish. But what if I also gather up podcasts, music, or books on tape to listen to as I work? A day of cooking could be something I look forward to. It’s a mindset thing.
I recommend this especially to folks in my age group. Making one day a week a cooking day has two powerful perks. It loads up the larder and also our schedules.
Suggestion #5: The Momma Method – have a rotating meal plan
We called my paternal grandmother, Momma. As family lore has it, Momma made a different soup every day of the week. If it was Monday, it was bean soup. If it was Tuesday, it was vegetable soup. And on she went through the week. She did not search for new soup recipes weekly, she just rotated the ones she had. There is no need to mess with success! Get a week’s worth of menus in place and stick with the plan.
Warning, warning, warning!
Once you collect a group of very easy recipes, you might be tempted to make a very easy main dish, a very easy side dish, and a very easy salad all for the same meal. I don’t advise it. This will give you a very easy way to get burned out on cooking all over again. Instead, make one very easy recipe a day; fill the other slots on the plate using the Ex-hubby and Big Irv methodology; and in that manner, eat home cooking happily ever after.
Got a VERY easy recipe to share? Please do so in the comments! Check for my 2-ingredient cake there…