Katie Smith | Unsplash.com | Cooking for one

I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and I think, “Well, that’s not going to happen.”

For fourteen months I have been living alone. And the single biggest issue is cooking for one. Shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Well, I am living proof that it is. And it is of course a bigger issue because I am a male (no disparagement intended to all the great male chefs.) When I have cooked previously for a family of 5, it was easy. However, after 14 months I am making a breakthrough. I have cooked using three recipes successfully, finally. Previously 60 second microwave meals and sandwiches.

Following recipes isn’t hard. But you have to want to eat the same thing for a week. My first recipe was egg muffins. Eggs with ham and veggies baked in a muffin pan. Made 12. I ate three fresh and then packaged the rest and froze them. I ate my first microwaved package today. The broccoli didn’t work too well, but it was still edible.

My next recipe was blueberry muffins. Again, ate three and froze the rest. I learned a bit about my tastes here. The muffin recipe called for cinnamon. I don’t think that went well in blueberry muffins, so I will either leave it out or cut it in half the next time around.

Next, I tried something a little more exciting, skillet pot pie. It was very good and made 4 meals. The first one was very good and then the ones reheated in the microwave diminished in tastiness as time passed in the refrigerator. My next experiment will be skillet lasagna this week. 

What is the real problem? There are only a few cooking-for-one cookbooks available. The problems for me are many.

 1. Every time I get ready to try a recipe, I don’t have all the ingredients. I was getting things out to make a Bundt cake for this week and I don’t have baking soda.

 2. I have a lot of other things to do, and I am only willing to cook occasionally. I am not willing to go to the store every time I want to cook a dish.

 3. I am not a creative cook like my daughter who knows how to put things together and what to substitute. She intuitively knows what spices to add to make it tasty. 

What is the answer? Experimentation, of course. That is how test kitchens work and some of the most incredible combinations come about. Below you will find 6 steps to developing your own recipes.

You will need taste tester or more commonly known as lab rats. Remember, the name of the game is experimentation.

 2. Don’t give up. As the saying goes, try, try, again. My experimentation will probably start with cutting down recipes into more palatable portions. Making something I have to eat four or five days in a row isn’t very exciting. Except for desserts, of course. If you try it and it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted or doesn’t taste right. Remember, no one is making you eat it. Be brave. Throw the nasty stuff out and try again.

 3. Find your inspiration for new recipes everywhere. You can cut down existing ones or add spices to glaze for chicken. It will pleasantly surprise you when two strange spices come together and provide you with a new taste sensation.

 4. Start with what you know. What tastes do you like? I found I am not a big fan of cinnamon, so I usually put in half of what the recipe calls for. If you like certain vegetables, try to find fresh ways to use them in your existing recipes.

 5. Once you get some recipes working, consider starting a food blog. Share your success.

Well, that’s all for now. My Bundt cake is in the oven (full recipe). Next dish on my list will be skillet lasagna.

Please share any recipes for one that you have developed or questions you have.

Good painting is like good cooking; it can be tasted, but not explained.–Maurice de Vlaminck