Cooking For One on a Budget can be difficult. You can’t cook too much or else it will go bad. Buying too much will also make food spoil. Then there is time, all the time wasted cooking. Soon you start thinking that eating out would be much more economical. Or is it? All the things that was listed above can still be done for a single person. For example, you can always freeze food. This means that you can cook in batches and have food for the whole week. While I personally prefer cooking things fresh, there are situation where batch cooking makes more sense.
For fresh food, when you freeze them, the water in the cell expand. This causes the food to ruin its texture. Have you ever wonder why steaks or vegetables turn mushy after freezing? It is for this reason that professional chef hate frozen food. However, there are certain techniques that food packaging manufacturer use to prolong the freshness. One of the said technique is called flash freezing. By Flash freezing the food, the water turns to ice so rapidly that it does not expand. This preserves the texture and freshness. Certain foods like peas, carrot, sausages, or even blueberry still remain good. In fact, I would argue that these vegetables are a lot more convenient than the fresh variety. If you ever need it for a stir fry, you can always pop open a freezer.
With that being said, there are some food that holds up to freezing than other. Pasta is a great example of this. The sauce and the noodles tends to preserve its texture. Pulling it out a week or even a month later should not be much of an issue. Things like meat loaf are also great for freezing. Since the loaf already consists of minced meat, there should not be that big of an issue with freezing. Basically, anything that already has minced meat should be fine with freezing. I would avoid things that has big pieces of food. The texture tends to get ruined very easily.
Soups are also fantastic for freezing. Its almost all liquid anyways, you can not ruin soup. If you want an easy way of making meal, all you need is chicken stock. Make a giant batch of chicken stock and use that for noodles or and vegetables. All you need to do is boil the stock and drop in the noodles. Any liquid based food tends to hold up well also. However, if there is crunchy things like tortilla, it is recommended to only add before serving.
Utensils for Freezing Food
Professional restaurant love to use food grade plastic container to freeze food. They are both microwave safe and freezer save. This lets them pop it in the microwave for a quick defrost. For soups and stocks, I like to use the 1 Quart models. They are the perfect portion size for one adult.
For things like pasta or other meal, plastic box are great. A frozen box also means that they can just remove it from the freezer and bring it out for lunch. These are quite popular among restrautn and meal prep people. If you want a glass version, I recommend the one by OXO. They keep in juices and liquid.
If you have enough room, a Top Loading Freezer is great for storing frozen food. The bigger the better, the amount of energy used between a small one and a large one is almost the same. You get more value for your money by going big. The side door one are more convenient and easy to manage. However, more cold air is let out when you open the door. The end result is more energy usage. Something that I imagine you are trying to stop.
Foods Not to Freeze
Things that are large should not be frozen multiple time. Steaks for example, those should only be frozen once at max. The more you do it, the worse the texture become. If you want to freeze food like chicken or pork pieces, I recommend cutting them in smaller pieces. The same goes for vegetables. The fresh crisp texture of larger chunks of vegetables will be now mushy. You wont notice it as much if its small and diced.
Food to Buy in Bulk
Any dry grains are great for buying in bulk. The bigger you go, the cheaper it gets. In the Asian Supermarket, you can get a 50lb bag of rice for around 30 dollar. That should literally last you one year. Things like cereals and bread should only be bought in small quantity. Those will go stale and rancid if you do not eat them quickly.
Things like meats can be bought in bulk as well. While this might not be as common, some people actually buy a whole cow. This is actually the most economical way of getting meat. If not, you can buy a large quantity of ground beef from Costco or your local supermarket. You will then freeze it and take out what you need. This is also a great method when you are looking for things to go on sale.
You should avoid buying fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk. They usually go bad in around a week. If you shop daily that it should not be an issue. Also if you buy things in season, they will taste better and be cheaper overall. Things that are not in season are usually grown in greenhouses and they cost more than the other varieties. I usually just buy whatever I can find on sale and then cook for that week.
Cooking For One on a Budget Thoughts
These are what I usually do for Cooking For One on a Budget. While other people method may be different, you should find one that works for you. Over the years, I have literally saved thousand using this method. My average weekly grocery cost is only around 20 dollar. Which is in contrast to other daily budget of 20-30 dollars…
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