Many single people have mentioned to me how difficult it is to cook for just one or two persons. If you cook every day you still dirty just about the same amount of dishes cooking for one as for a family. Here is how I manage one of my meals a day and have a very hardy, healthy meal at that. I cook for 30. . . once a month. And all in the space of my tiny Texas kitchen!
I have 30 Reditainer three compartment plates with covers in which I freeze a month’s worth of meals. Following is an example of what the trays might contain. Recipes will follow.
5 Yippee-ki-yay Chicken on a bed of brown rice with whole kernel corn and fiesta beans and southwestern cornbread.
5 Center cut pork chop on a bed of brown rice covered with cream of mushroom, cooked spinach and cooked carrots.
5 Southwestern Meatloaf with fiesta beans and your choice of frozen vegetables.
5 Grilled chicken breast with cooked beets and mashed sweet potatoes with honey and vanilla.
5 Grilled salmon patties with green beans and cooked beets.
5 Fried chicken with green beans and sweet peas.
When I get a good deal on something, like sweet potatoes, I’ll cook a large batch and put part of it away in the freezer for use the following month. This is especially true when given something free from a friend’s garden.
The Reditainer plates hold just a little more than I should be eating so I’ve been cutting back on the portions. When I started this tiny house adventure and started cooking for myself I had in my mind that I would eat very healthy and lose some weight. Well, I took off a couple of inches around my waist and had to buy some new pants. But, lately I’ve noticed the pants getting a little tighter as is the new belt I bought. So yes, I’m cutting back on the portions in the Reditainer plates.
Casseroles, beans in the slow cooker are a couple of items that I cook in large amounts and use part this month and put some back in the freezer for following months.
I did not do a cost analysis per plate, but I estimate that each plate costs about $1.60, making it a truly affordable menu for the month for the main meal.
A Few of my Bulk Cooking Recipes
Yippee-ki-yay chicken with fiesta beans and rice is my current favorite recipe. That changes monthly.
- One large whole chicken
- Two 16 oz bottles of picante sauce, mild or hot as you prefer
(sounds like a lot but you’ll use it over & over)
- 2 cups of pinto beans (or mix pinto, red and black beans)
- 1 cup dry brown rice.
- 5 servings of frozen broccoli and cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons of chili powder
Salt everything to taste.
- Start by placing the whole chicken in a slow cooker; add 2 bottles of picante sauce plus enough water to cover the chicken. Cook 3 to 4 hours on high or 5 to 6 hours on low. Cook until chicken is fall off the bone tender. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and debone the chicken, set aside.
- Add 1 cup of brown rice to the slow cooker with the picante sauce that was used for cooking the chicken and cook on high for 1 hour. Add more water if needed. Pour the rice into a colander and save the picante sauce and water for the beans.
- Fiesta Beans. Put the picante sauce in the slow cooker and add the beans and cook until beans are tender and then cook 30 minutes longer. Add water as needed. I like to add some chopped up ham and 2 tbs chili powder the last 30 minutes.
- Cut up the chicken into bite size pieces and serve over a bed of brown rice. Goes great with the Fiesta Beans and frozen broccoli. Any leftover chicken will be chopped up and used for a lunch sandwiches on whole wheat bread with slices of avocado.
Center cut pork chop on a bed of brown rice covered with cream of mushroom
- 5 Center cut pork chops
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 2 10.5 oz cans of cream of mushroom
- 5 servings of your choice of frozen vegetables.
- 2 cans of whole kernel corn – I get 3 servings per can
- I have a George Foreman grill that was donated by my daughter. Grill the boneless center cut pork chops in the George Foreman grill for 5 minutes. Place all 5 pork chops in a pot and cover with two 10.5 oz cans of cream of mushroom and enough water to cover the pork chops. Simmer on low heat until they are fall apart tender. I find it unnecessary to add salt because of the salt in the cream of mushroom. Remove the pork chops and simmer the cream of mushroom awhile longer to thicken if needed.
- Boil 1 cup of brown rice in water for 1 hour. Add water as necessary. Salt to taste.
- I use a lot of frozen vegetables because they don’t require cooking before adding them to the Reditainer plates. They steam when I microwave the plates before eating.
- Place a bed of brown rice in 5 Reditainer plates. Cover with 1 pork chop and a generous amount of cream of mushroom. Add 1 serving of each vegetable to the other compartments. Place in freezer until ready to eat.
I don’t eat large portions of meat and I seldom eat ground beef. This recipe for Southwestern Meatloaf cuts in half the amount of ground meat you eat per serving.
A little advance on this recipe. I didn’t measure the cups of sweet potatoes I used. It was a lot. Rule of thumb is sweet potatoes, corn, oatmeal, can tomatoes and eggs is about the same volume as the ground beef.
- 5 lbs of ground beef
- 4 medium size sweet potatoes diced to ¼ inch squares (wash and microwave for 3 min to make them easier to peel and cut.
- 1 can whole kernel corn
- 3 eggs
- 1 14.5 oz can Great Value Chili Ready Tomatoes – drained
- 1 15 oz can whole kernel corn – drained
- cups cooked oatmeal
- 1 tbs chili powder
- Place all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix by hand. Messy but fun.
- I hope I can get good pictures demonstrate how I do this. I don’t like for the meatloaf to cook in its own juices. I roll up 8 paper towels into a tight tube and place in the bottom of a large slow cooker. I then make a cradle of several layers of aluminum foil and place over the paper towels and extends up the sides. After the meatloaf is cooked, I can hold the aluminum foil and pick the meatloaf up out of the slow cooker and place on a platter.
- Place the meatloaf mix on the aluminum foil cradle in the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours. Grab the aluminum foil (when cool) and lift out of slow cooker. Slice to portion size slices. There should be enough meatloaf for 10 servings. Place half in the freezer for the following month.
Serve with fiesta beans (see above) and your choice of frozen vegetables. I sometimes put some BBQ sauce on the meatloaf at meal time.
Grilled chicken breast with cooked beets and mashed sweet potatoes with honey and vanilla
- 5 boneless chicken breast (I like to cook with skin on and remove it after cooking)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 medium sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 Tbs vanilla
- Grill 5 chicken breast on my George Foreman grille for 8 minutes.
- Microwave 5 medium size sweet potatoes on high for 12 minutes or until soft.
- Mash with a potato masher and mix in ½ cut honey and 2 tbs vanilla. This should be enough for 2 months, freeze half for following month. I love this stuff.
- Put chicken breast, mashed sweet potatoes and frozen vegetables on Reditainer plate and place in freezer until ready to serve.
Grilled salmon patties with green beans and cooked beets
- 16 oz can salmon
- 1 medium size sweet potato
- 1 small onion
- 2 lg eggs
- 1 cup dried bread crumbs
- Beat 2 eggs in a mixing bowl.
- Add the above ingredients and mix well.
- Form 8 to 10 patties and roll in bread crumbs.
- Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.
- Serve with canned green beans and canned beets.
Fried chicken with green beans and sweet peas
This one I really get lazy on. I buy enough fried chicken from the grocery store for 2 pieces of chicken per serving. Place 2 pieces of chicken in Reditainers with a serving of peas and green beans. Done.
This is just a sample of what I do each month. I vary my meals with what is available/on sale and fits in my pocket book and/or my prospective health diet. The idea is that I cook for several hours once a month and seldom cook again during the month. Makes life easy. I often have mixed green salads for lunch. Breakfast if most often a small bowl of oatmeal and boiled egg. Sometimes I have a boiled egg sandwich with avocado slices. Whatever is easy without dirtying up the kitchen.
A few tips to avoid freezer burn:
- Make sure food is fully cooked before covering tightly and placing in the freezer
- If you can’t fill each of your compartments, cover the tray tightly in plastic wrap before putting on the container cover.
- You can also store individual servings in vacuum sealed bags and place in containers in your freezer if doing full trays is hard.
Now, since doing my last batch cooking afternoon and getting this article done, I’ve had just a few of my meals already, but here’s about half of them in my tiny dorm-sized freezer that I keep in my closet (pics of how my house is organized are coming soon!).
Here are the tools I use to make my bulk meals
Because I don’t have a typical kitchen set up in my tiny Texas house, I use individual cooking pieces that can store in my upper cabinets and on top of my stove and bookshelves. I don’t have a built-in stovetop or oven, and have found that these few pieces make everything just as easy as can be.