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- Cooking for Smaller Numbers
COOKING and SHOPPING for ONE (or TWO): Ideas and Recipes
Macaroni Salad for Just Two
½ C Mayonnaise (Hellman’s tastes best)
1 T White Vinegar
2 t Yellow Mustard
½ t Sugar
½ t Salt
1/8 t Black pepper
4 oz. Elbow Macaroni (before cooking)
½ C Celery
½ C Chopped Green and/or Red Pepper
2 T Chopped Onion
1 Hard Boiled Egg (if desired)
Cook macaroni. Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in bowl. Add celery, peppers and onion. Mix. Fold in macaroni. Garnish with sliced hard boiled egg. Sprinkle lightly with paprika if desired. Enjoy!
My Downsized Recipe for Zucchini Muffins (makes ONLY approx. 4-5 muffins)
1/3 C Oil (or substitute 1/3 C applesauce-no sugar added)
2/3 C Sugar
1 t vanilla
¾ C Grated Zucchini
1 C Flour
1 t Baking Soda
1/8 t Baking Powder
¼ t Salt
1 t Cinnamon
1/3 C Chopped Walnuts
Mix oil, sugar and vanilla. Add beaten egg. Mix well. Add zucchini. Mix well. Sift dry ingredients and mix with batter. Fold in walnuts.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill large cupcake papers 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Test with toothpick. Enjoy!
COOKING and SHOPPING for ONE (or TWO) in Today's Market Where "BULK IS CHEAPER"
It was a drizzly Sunday afternoon . . . one of the rare days that I was not busy with plans to go somewhere. Hungry for something sweet, I browsed my cupboards and refrigerator, but could not find anything except for a yellow cake mix and milk chocolate frosting.
After baking 24 cupcakes, I meticulously coated each one, swirling the frosting to a center peak like the professionals. With much excitement, I poured myself a big glass of skim milk and ate my first cupcake. I even decided to have a second. My taste buds were happy. I had my fix. As I stood at my kitchen counter, I took a deep breath and rolled my eyes wondering what I was going to do with the 22 frosted cupcakes that were staring back at me. I didn’t really want anymore!
Luckily, my parents and two sisters with their families live close to me. So I packed up three containers of cupcakes and hopped in my car to make my rounds. While I was driving to my first destination, I thought to myself “this is ridiculous.” Every time I cook or bake something, I am packing it up to give the rest away. I do enjoy sharing with my family, but I find myself doing it all the time. It bothers me more now since I was downsized from my job. Penny pinching is essential.
When grocery shopping, I seem to take a long time looking at prices and portions and checking to see if I have any coupons that will fit my needs. The stress level in my body begins to build. Money is tight. I don’t want to keep giving food away. I don’t want items going stale in my cupboard, and I cannot afford to keep feeding the birds.
I look at the loaves of bread. I don’t want a whole loaf of bread! I only need maybe, four slices. Six at the most. And I really don’t like putting baked bread in the freezer. It’s just not the same when you thaw it.
SOLUTION: I buy the frozen, unbaked bread dough. I cut it into sections so I can bake my own fresh bread in small portions whenever I want.
Some of these food issues really drive me crazy. For example, I don’t want nor do I need – 12 eggs. The same goes for 5 pounds of sugar or flour. And potatoes . . . 8 or 10 pounds? I know I can buy them individually, but for the same price I can feed my neighbors too.
Did you ever have a jar of peanut butter in your cupboard and you cannot remember when you purchased it? Mine has to be over a year old. It still looks o.k. and smells o.k. One day, way back when, I had a taste for a couple tablespoons full. I haven’t had the craving since then.
When I buy milk, I usually end up with a half gallon, even if I’ll only use a quart. They’re almost the same price. But recently I was at WalMart. The half gallon of milk was $1.98 and the full gallon of milk was $1.97 – ok, that was a no brainer. I bought a gallon with the longest expiration date hoping I won’t waste much.
Hot dogs. I like my (turkey) hot dogs although I do not wish to eat them for 8 or 10 days in a row. I know, I know, I can freeze them. But trust me, they’ll be there for a really long time.
SOLUTION: Hot dogs purchased individually from the fresh deli are very comparable in price and they taste better too.
I also get aggravated when I look at the “meats” section of the grocery store. I don’t want eight drumsticks, six pork chops.
SOLUTION: I’ve gotten very friendly with the butcher. I’ve learned to ask for what I need. They are willing to accommodate a “single” serving.
Thank goodness for Tupperware. Boxes of cereal created for the “bulk” buyer lasts much longer in Tupperware. Eventually, I’ll eat it. I like my Wheaties.
I have learned that I can actually take a store bought cake mix or brownie mix and split everything in half.
SOLUTION: One egg instead of two, one quarter cup oil instead of one half cup, etc. You get the picture. I just use a smaller pan. I don’t waste much and might not have to give any away. I store the unused dry mix in Tupperware until the craving hits again.
But, my list goes on and on with the items that I want a little of - - yet it would be cheaper if I buy a lot.
Pasta. In some cases I can get three pounds for the price of one. It’s much cheaper to buy five pounds of carrots (for who?). Coffee is less expensive purchased in larger quantities. A two-liter bottle of soda (if it doesn’t lose its fizz after a couple days) is much more cost efficient than buying cans. Hmmmm, should I buy two red delicious apples for $1.30 or should I buy a 2-pound prepackaged bag with 5-6 apples for 1.99? Ugh . . .
And who created the "rule" that a pack of cigarettes has to contain 20 butts? What if I don’t want 20?
SOLUTION: OK, so people that know me are laughing right now. Yes all, the SOLUTION IS TO QUIT SMOKING!
And don’t even get me started on the cost of foods claiming to be “fat free.” I guess I’ll stop now.
So I weigh the pros and cons at the grocery store. I think long and hard before I place something in my cart. If I think I’ll eventually use the larger quantity before it spoils, then it may be my wisest choice.
I realize that not every person experiences the same dilemmas that I have. I also know that I am especially fortunate because I live in the USA where we do have an abundance of food choices. Yet, when times are tough and money is scarce, I find it a little annoying that “bulk is cheaper.”
When I am at a standstill in Aisle 12, pondering over a single serving or bulk, I calmly remind myself that grocery shopping is still more cost effective than going out to a restaurant!