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tourennatrix

variety cooking for one

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I'm working on setting myself some goals, and one has crossed my notes: Eat 90% paleo by end of June (which probably means by the end of June I should have about 90% compliance for 30 days. Ew, I hate the word 'compliance'... anyway). I'm breaking this goal down into actionable pieces, and identifying challenges. I thought I might lay them out here to see if anyone has any suggestions!

 

facets of the larger goal:

* Hold the sugar beast at bay

* Establish simple recipes (so far, my go-to is just a "stir fry")

* DON'T LET FOOD GO BAD

* healthy, cheap, quick, sustainable snacks which I actually only eat for snacks instead of just eating them all for dinner because they're there and then being stuck at square one when the next snack urge hits. *ahem*

 

Challenges (not excuses!):

* I do not have, nor do I want, a microwave (I have access to one for lunch about 4 days a week, but I just don't like 'em that much)

* Emotional/physical disruptions (days where I just don't wanna so hard that I can't (i.e. periods of anxiety or depression), deadlines at school, moving to a different house with roommates in the spring)

* Inability to eat the same thing over and over - I usually get only one use out of leftovers, and can't really make the exact same meal fresh more than 2-3 times in as many weeks

-> * this girl needs variety, but variety in veggies tends to mean spoilage

 

I did mostly-paleo pretty successfully a couple years back, but I was also bringing in a lot more moolah so I think I was a bit better about variety? Now I have less cash and less time (yay student life!) so figuring this out seems to be taking a lot more energy than it did before :P

 

Things I already go/will be doing shortly:

Individual applesauce cups (from costco) - comparatively inexpensive and don't go bad (like when I get 2 servings into a jar and decide I don't want any more for 3 months)

spiralizer (for replacement 'noodles' and to vary the texture of meals)

frozen veggies (peas, broccoli, ... I've got frozen brussels sprouts but haven't figured out how to cook them so they aren't just mush)

frozen chicken (I literally don't know how to cook any other meat, unless it's ground, but meat's usually expensive anyway >_> 

 

Whew.

 

Thoughts? :x

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Okay, so I hope you are well on your way with your goals by now but I have a tip for brussels sprouts: grill 'em.

 

If you do not have a grilled-cheese-sandwich-maker, there are pans with a ribbed surface. Tefal is the best investment someone can make.

 

Do not let your housemates use it if they are like to use knives and forks in the pan. Or constantly burn things :p

 

Am sure there are cheaper alternatives of course.

 

Defrost. Get them dry somhow. Grill 'em! 

Add a bit of cheese if you want. 

 

Brussels sprouts are said to be a punishment for children, but that is because parents do not grill them!

 

Also, adding spices to any veggie makes it better if it is a bit bland.

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Sorry, I'm just seeing this! X_x

 

Stuff I learned when doing paleo:

-Seasoning makes the meal.  You can do the same chicken and veggies a dozen times, if you change the seasoning each time.  Personally, I just picked up a new bottle every week or two (they can be expensive, but last for a long time when cooking for one) and just add whatever smelled good together.  But there are also plenty of guides for how to get the classic tastes you're used to (basil+oregano+garlic for Italian is my default).

-Chicken and pork are your cheapest meats.  A cheap pork roast can make a lot of Crockpot Pulled Pork and get frozen for later.  Plus it can be served with different things for different flavors.  The various pork cuts can be baked or grilled with different marinades or spices to get a bunch of different flavors too, just like chicken.

-For nights when I really don't feel like cooking, I like to keep frozen veggies and tuna on hand.  Steam the veggies, add some salt and pepper (and any other spices you feel like), mix in the drained tuna, and sprinkle on cheese, if you're eating it, for a relatively quick, low-cal, filling meal.  Steamed veggies is one of the few things I'd recommend a microwave for; it only takes 3-4min on high to steam frozen veggies in a dish with a loose lid.  It can be a lifesaver on those nights when Taco Bell is calling my name. :playful:

-Bird's Eye makes a line of frozen dinners called Voila that are all fairly healthy, and includes a few paleo-friendly options (stir fried cauliflower rice, for instance).  Pour the bag into a pan, open the sauce packet(s), and cook covered for 15-20min while stirring occasionally.  The smaller bags are 2-3 servings, but I can eat the entire thing.

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8 hours ago, analoggirl said:

Okay, so I hope you are well on your way with your goals by now but I have a tip for brussels sprouts: grill 'em.

 

If you do not have a grilled-cheese-sandwich-maker, there are pans with a ribbed surface. Tefal is the best investment someone can make.

 

Do not let your housemates use it if they are like to use knives and forks in the pan. Or constantly burn things :p

 

Am sure there are cheaper alternatives of course.

 

Defrost. Get them dry somhow. Grill 'em! 

Add a bit of cheese if you want. 

 

Brussels sprouts are said to be a punishment for children, but that is because parents do not grill them!

 

Also, adding spices to any veggie makes it better if it is a bit bland.

 

Thanks for the tips! I actually really like brussels sprouts, it's just the sogginess of thawing them that I can't quite figure out :P Perhaps I'll give it a try this week, because what else am I going to do on spring break? XD

 

1 hour ago, Anim07734 said:

Sorry, I'm just seeing this! X_x

 

Stuff I learned when doing paleo:

-Seasoning makes the meal.  You can do the same chicken and veggies a dozen times, if you change the seasoning each time.  Personally, I just picked up a new bottle every week or two (they can be expensive, but last for a long time when cooking for one) and just add whatever smelled good together.  But there are also plenty of guides for how to get the classic tastes you're used to (basil+oregano+garlic for Italian is my default).

-Chicken and pork are your cheapest meats.  A cheap pork roast can make a lot of Crockpot Pulled Pork and get frozen for later.  Plus it can be served with different things for different flavors.  The various pork cuts can be baked or grilled with different marinades or spices to get a bunch of different flavors too, just like chicken.

-For nights when I really don't feel like cooking, I like to keep frozen veggies and tuna on hand.  Steam the veggies, add some salt and pepper (and any other spices you feel like), mix in the drained tuna, and sprinkle on cheese, if you're eating it, for a relatively quick, low-cal, filling meal.  Steamed veggies is one of the few things I'd recommend a microwave for; it only takes 3-4min on high to steam frozen veggies in a dish with a loose lid.  It can be a lifesaver on those nights when Taco Bell is calling my name. :playful:

-Bird's Eye makes a line of frozen dinners called Voila that are all fairly healthy, and includes a few paleo-friendly options (stir fried cauliflower rice, for instance).  Pour the bag into a pan, open the sauce packet(s), and cook covered for 15-20min while stirring occasionally.  The smaller bags are 2-3 servings, but I can eat the entire thing.

 

Oooh, my sister has started trying out those cauliflower rice things. I'm working my way through the other flavors they have (so much easier to get veggies in one meal on days I realize I've had nothing but protein shakes and clif bars)... But I'm not sure my grocery store has the cauliflower rice meals! They've been doing a lot of construction in the store so everything's moved around and they have limited space. But their other stuff so far has certainly helped! I also discovered that there's pre-cooked frozen chicken that cooks up in a skillet in less than 10 minutes. This has been such a life saver!

 

Hoping to get back to actually preparing my own veggies again soon (and coming up with different sauces and spice blends is a great idea!), but for now, at least I think I've been able to break the pizza and mac & cheese cycle!

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Personally I find cauliflower as a rice substitute very tasty but the smell of steaming it terrible? Doubt that can be helped though so I will try it when it is a bit warmer and I can leave windows + a door open :) Ty for the reminder! 

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On 4/2/2019 at 7:02 PM, analoggirl said:

Personally I find cauliflower as a rice substitute very tasty but the smell of steaming it terrible? Doubt that can be helped though so I will try it when it is a bit warmer and I can leave windows + a door open :) Ty for the reminder! 

 

I find steaming leaves it a bit soggy for making rice anyway, I usually roast it before making it into rice.  I find it has more of a nutty flavour and a drier texture when it’s been roasted, which I prefer. 

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I was quite ill for a long time and only shopped for groceries online once every 4-6 weeks, and my solution was frozen, prepped veg.  I know you’ve already mentioned peas, broccoli etc, but you can also buy frozen, sliced peppers, mushrooms, onions, kale etc.  These can be really useful “staple” ingredients for many dishes or sauces and can be a LOT cheaper than buying fresh.  I also relied heavily on frozen meat.  You can get frozen mince (ground beef) which cooked very quickly and easily from frozen, no need to defrost, which can be a life saver!  You can also buy frozen chicken breasts, cubed beef, pork steaks etc.  I tend to find that pre-frozen meat needs a long slow cooking method or else it can be quite tough.  Slow cookers are AMAZING for turning what could otherwise be boot leather into tender delicious-ness.  They’re also very cheap to run, so Bonus

 

Another trick is to make soups or stews.  You can freeze it in individual portions to take out later, and it’s full of nutrients because you are still getting the water soluble minerals that would normally be lost if you boiled the veg.  Any butcher will have bones that you can use as a base to give your soup flavour (and goodness) or cuts of meat that are often wasted like the neck or flank, both of which make excellent soup with plenty of meat, they’re just a bit fiddly to get the meat off. 

 

I also find that batch cooking is a life saver.  I will buy meat that is reduced to clear, cook it with just some basic seasoning, then portion it out into individual portions and freeze them, or portion out raw meat and freeze it in a marinade (sometimes even adding the veg that I would cook it with) so that I have an easy to prep meal that just needs defrosting and cooking. 

 

Some veg veg it might be worth paying extra for and buying from a farmers market because they will keep for sooooooo much longer than from the supermarket, especially root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, turnip, beetroot, potatoes and sweet potatoes, celeriac etc for the reasons outlined in the video below ;) 

 

 

 

 

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