Variety is the spice of life when cooking for one

Cooking for one person is challenging and requires an open mind and an adventurous palate to make mealtime interesting.

A routine is important because it not only prepares your body to expect food at a certain time but it tells you when to start cooking. Regular meals are best but also plan adequate snacks.

Variety is key. Don’t get caught making the same thing all the time. Take advantage of finding that freshly caught pickerel at the grocery store to break the tedium of everyday meals.

Make use of leftovers. Plan a second meal or a bonus dinner when you cook. Incorporate the main ingredient into your meal for the next day with different vegetables.

Don’t hoard the good stuff. Time passes and freezer burn happens. Don’t waste the food or the opportunity to make a nice meal for yourself. Freeze leftovers in individual meal sized containers.

Grilling is another opportunity to create a special meal. Grill an extra steak and slice leftovers for a Caesar salad the next day. While the grill is hot, cook up extra vegetables.

Two of my favourites when cooking for myself are chicken paillards and pork tenderloin. A paillard is a thinly sliced piece of boneless meat that has been pounded thin and cooks quickly without losing moisture.

A chicken breast can be sliced in half horizontally and pounded to make a thin piece. Versatile pork tenderloin also cooks quickly and is smaller than a roast. Be sure to remove the silver skin to avoid toughness.

Chicken Paillards with Clementine Salsa

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 clementine or orange, peeled, diced
  • 1/4 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. finely diced red onion 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. finely diced celery 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 15 mL
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil 10 mL
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice 10 mL
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno chili, seeded, minced
  • 2 tsp. olive oil 10 mL
  • 2 tbsp. fresh clementine or orange juice 30 mL

Place chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a mallet or heavy pan, pound chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. It can be made a day ahead. Cover and chill.
Mix clementine and next eight ingredients in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. It can be made two hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
eason chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until slightly browned and cooked through, about three minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter. Add clementine juice to skillet, boil until reduced to 1/4 cup (60 mL), stirring often, about two minutes. Drizzle sauce over chicken. Spoon salsa over it and serve.

Pork Tenderloin with Madeira Sauce

Soak two tablespoons (30 mL) dried mushrooms for half an hour in boiling water. Finely chop the mushrooms and saute them with a tablespoon (15 mL) of shallots. Add a smashed clove of garlic. Saute for another minute and add a splash of Madeira wine. Reduce until almost dry, then add the reserved mushroom soaking liquid with chicken broth to equal one cup (250 mL) and a pinch of dried rosemary.
Reduce to a moderately thick sauce by gently simmering. Meanwhile, quickly fry the medallions of pork. Serve the medallions with stir-fried green peppers and grape tomatoes.

Bourbon and Apple Marinated Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 c. apple juice 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. bourbon 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 30 mL
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar 30 mL

Mix marinade ingredients in a small saucepan and heat for approximately 20 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Place tenderloin in a sealed plastic bag with the marinade and refrigerate overnight to absorb the flavours.
When ready to prepare, remove tenderloin from the marinade, pat dry and set aside. Grill or pan grill until done, approximately 45 minutes. Turn periodically until an internal temperature of approximately 155 F (70 C) is reached. The marinade can be cooked down until it is half the volume and used as a sauce.
Remove, loosely cover with foil and let meat rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve with a drizzle of the reduced sauce and baked sweet potatoes.

Wedge of Iceberg Salad

The crispness of the lettuce makes this salad special. Cheese adds protein and fat to keep you feeling full longer and offers a satisfying flavour.

  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. blue cheese, crumbled 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. plain non-fat yogurt 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. buttermilk 30 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. white wine vinegar 20 mL
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 large head of iceberg lettuce, each cut into quarters
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 4 slices pancetta, prosciutto or bacon

This salad is best if the lettuce is washed the previous day. Wash iceberg lettuce by removing the stem, run cold water through the head and invert to drain. Wrap in a clean tea towel and refrigerate.
Whisk mayonnaise, 1/4 cup (60 mL) blue cheese, yogurt, buttermilk and vinegar in medium bowl until almost smooth. Mix in remaining blue cheese. Season dressing with cracked black pepper. It can be kept refrigerated for one week.
Cut the pancetta, prosciutto or bacon into bite-sized pieces and saute until crispy.
Cut head of lettuce into quarters and place one-quarter on a plate. Spoon dressing over lettuce. Garnish with green onions, crispy bacon and serve.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at: Contact:

About the author


Stories from our other publications