Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ease into Meal Planning for One - Start with Lunches

A simple, hearty sandwich for lunch.
When I finally got serious about meal planning for one, after my daughter left the nest, I felt uncomfortably adrift in a sea of confusion. I'd been cooking and meal planning for most of my adult life, but aside from a few years of being on my own before marriage, always with others in mind. With my daughter off on her own, I found I'd have to break the old habits associated with cooking day-to-day for others and make some new habits that centered only on me. At first I bought too much, cooked too much, and wasted too much. But over time, I developed a few successful strategies for planning meals for one, and this is one of them: start meal planning with one category of meal at a time--breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks (yes, snacks are meals!).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Start Meal Planning One Meal at a Time - Breakfast

Quick and easy breakfast parfait -
yogurt, fresh berries,
and muesli.
You don't have to go whole-hog when beginning to create and follow a meal planning program. You can start simply, with one category of meal at a time, and use your success to build up to an entire meal planning routine. Let's start with the breakfast category.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It can start your day with energy and alertness, and just as important, it can fend off that hungry feeling that drives us to make poor food choices for the rest of the day. It can also be the easiest meal of the day to make.

Read on for easy ways to kick-start your overall meal planning strategy.

The Simple Week-day Breakfast

My mother was an excellent meal planner, and I learned nearly all I know about meal planning from her. Since she worked full-time, she planned quick and simple week-day breakfasts, saving the tastier and more time-intensive breakfast feasts for weekends. She planned our simple week-day breakfasts with convenience in mind. Since Mom had to be off to work before I had to leave for school, she made sure I had breakfast items I could put together in a hurry and consume in the ten minutes it took to read the morning comics before gathering up my books and running out the door to catch the school bus.

Week-day Breakfast Items for Quick and Healthy Starts to the Day
  • Cold cereal (bran flakes, corn flakes, shredded wheat, granola, muesli).
  • Fresh or dried fruits (bananas, raisins, berries in season, dried plums, figs)
  • Yogurt or milk (cow, soy, almond...whatever your choice)
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Toast

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pantry Essentials for Impromptu Meals When Cooking for One

Pantry Essentials
I love stocking my pantry. I suppose there's a bit of compulsive behavior involved here, maybe even a hint of hoarding. But for sure, I don't like being out of favorite pantry staples when I have to cook on the fly, something all of us who cook for one must face from time to time despite the best planning efforts. As far as I'm concerned, there's almost nothing worse than having plenty of eggs in the refrigerator and craving deviled eggs for lunch only to discover I'm out of mustard, or finding a fresh chicken at a rock-bottom price and realizing I used the last of my dried tarragon in last week's halibut in tarragon lemon sauce.

Focus on What You Like To Eat

Building a stock of pantry essentials that allow you to pull together an impromptu meal is a personal affair. You are the one who knows best what foods you like and need. But maybe you can get some tips and inspiration from how I stock my pantry and from how the folks whose photos are featured here stock theirs.