3 Cooking tips and tricks for singles

10 Nov


What are some great recipes for just one person? How do you handle shopping, cooking, and eating for one? Do you have any kitchen advice or cooking tips for singles? (Thanks to Bek and Laura for suggesting we give this one another go!)

Let’s be honest.  I don’t get a rush of adrenaline when it comes time to cook.  Eating, shopping, or creating recipes on your own can oftentimes be rather dull.  But with a few staple food items, and a pinch of creativity, meals can be easy and fun.

I’ve cooked in the kitchen my whole life, but not until college did I really start to get a comfort level for cooking and using my creative talent with food and dishes.  Want to learn some of my cooking secrets?  Put on your apron, and let’s get going!  Before we begin, I wanted to share a little map with you:

We will be covering

  • A recipe for one
  • Grocery shopping made easy
  • What Mom said.

 Recipe for one:

This recipe is delicious and easy.  It’s one that doesn’t need exact measurements (if you’re like me, meals are mostly off-the-cuff.)  I will provide measurements just in case 😉


Ground beef – 1 pound

Tomato sauce – 1 can (I like to use mushroom, original, or garden sauce)

Garlic powder – flavor to your taste (I like to use about 1 1/2 teaspoons.)

Onion powder – flavor to your taste (I like to use about 1 1/2 teaspoons.)

Pasta – 1 bag or 1 box or your favorite style (I like to use reggano curly egg noodles, bought at Aldi.)

Mozzarella cheese – 1 bag

(* This is optional *  You can add basil or oregano for more flavor)

Cottage cheese – 1 small container

1 Baking dish of your choosing (any dish that is oven safe) (I like using a square pan.)

Okay, ready?! Let’s cook!

  1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet until cooked thoroughly.
  2. While the ground beef is cooking, fill a separate pot with about 5-6 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. When the ground beef is cooked thoroughly, pour or scoop out the grease into a bowl.  When the grease cools, it will harden and you can throw it away.  (I recommend putting the grease in an empty grocery bag before throwing away, sparing your trash can from smelling like grease.)
  5. When the water comes to a boil, add about 3 or 4 cups of pasta (that way you can have some leftovers.  If you’d rather just make one meal, add about 2 cups of pasta.)
  6. Test the pasta in about 12 minutes with a fork – if it’s soft and not crunchy, turn the burner down to low.
  7. Once the pasta is fully cooked, drain off the water in the sink.
Here comes the fun part!
     8. In the same pan that you cooked the pasta in, dump in your tomato sauce, spices, hamburger, a few tablespoons of cottage cheese, and a healthy dose of cheese.  Stir it all together.

     9.  Now, dump the mixture into your ungreased baking pan.  Sprinkle some cheese on the top.

     10.  Cook the meal for 20 minutes, or until the cheese on top turns slightly toasty brown.

     11.  Take out of the oven, and Wahlahh!!!!  Your meal is done.

(I like putting toasting bread in my toaster and making garlic bread to go along with this meal.  And don’t forget the veggie!  My veggie of choice is fresh spinach salad with tomato, or steamed broccoli.

Grocery Shopping made easy:

Don’t do what I’ve done.  I have gone grocery shopping right after work, when I feel like a bear who has just left her cave after hibernating the whole winter.  I feel like I could eat everything in the grocery store (not really, but you get the picture. 😉 )  I’ve gone shopping on an empty stomach.  That makes for a slightly irritable, hungrier than all-get-out Rachy.  No Bueno.  And I’ve ended up with WAY more groceries than I really needed because everything looked so good – Haha!!

You will make for a smarter and savvier shopper when you eat ahead of time.

We all like the deals and we like quality.  And my favorite grocery store where all of that is rolled into one is Aldi.  Go ahead, check out their website!

Last but not least:

What Mom said:

My Mom taught me a few invaluable lessons about working in the kitchen.  If you want to save yourself from working overtime in the kitchen, I’m going to share a few of my Mom’s secrets with you.  You will thank me (and her) forever.  🙂

  • Clean as you go.  While the pots are boiling and the oven is baking, grab your kitchen dish cloth and rinse it in hot water.  Now do your happy dance and wipe all your counter tops.  Move the fruit bowl, clean off the coffee pot, re-stack your bread, and get into those nooks and crannies that dust bunnies like to hide in.  You will look at your kitchen with a new glint in your eye when you see the wonders that your kitchen dish cloth can perform.
  • Wash the dishes as you go.  Before all the stickiness and tastiness is dried on, plunge your dishes into your dish water to soak right away.  Then, in the last few minutes before your oven timer goes off, wash as many dishes as you can.  Then when your meal is over, your dishes (or at least some of them) will be done.  Cha-ching!  One day I tried scrubbing out a baking pan that had dried on craziness.  I worked on that booger for a long time before I thought “well this is nuts.”  I realized that I needed to let that baby SOAK first instead of working up a sweat trying to scrub out the goo.
  • Clean as you go.  Yep, this is step one again.  It makes a WORLD of difference to clean the kitchen as you go.  It makes for a better cooking experience too because rather than feeling overwhelmed at how much there is to clean after you eat, you will keep your cleaning to a minimum by wiping, cleaning and putting away as you go.  Ta da!


What kind of kitchen and grocery tricks do you have up your sleeve?!  Join the conversation here!  Remember to link up to Lindsay’s blog too.

Next week’s topic is:

11/17: Rejection: How do we gracefully and graciously handle rejection?  How do you avoid falling into self-doubt or bitterness?  How can you help or encourage others who have gone through rejection?



6 Responses to “3 Cooking tips and tricks for singles”

  1. LauraMarieForLife November 10, 2015 at 7:47 pm #

    Oh my goodness yes! I’ve been getting better at cleaning as you go lately, it makes such a difference. It’s so lovely not having a mountain of dishes at the end! Another challenge I have is having everything ready at the same time. I’ve been trying to get better at that, but it’s hard! Anybody have tips?

    • Rfog December 8, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

      Hi Laura, it’s taken me some time to reply to your question about timing everything to be cooked at the same time. I would recommend jotting down (either on paper or in your head) how long each item takes. The item that takes the longest cooks first. Then, each separate dish follows. I hope that helps! How are finals going?? Keep up the good work!!!

      • LauraMarieForLife December 9, 2015 at 11:09 pm #

        Hello Rachel! How’s life been for you? That’s a good idea for timing things. I just don’t usually follow recipes which might make that challenging. Perhaps my method of winging it isn’t always the best way to prepare, ha! Finals start tomorrow and really they’ve been more hard in the past. Looking forward to being home to celebrate the season too! Hope you’re enjoying Advent 🙂

  2. Lindsay November 16, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    I love pasta meals! They’re so easy, so filling, and so tasty. I just got the ingredients to make Taco Pasta for a friend with a new baby.

    I also love aprons, and I second your motion to wash dishes as you go. Sometimes soaking is necessary, but for many people, that turns into not washing the dishes at all. But not us! We are on top of it!


  1. NAS: Recipes For One | Proverbial Girlfriend - November 11, 2015

    […] Linking up with Lindsay and Rachel! […]

  2. Not Alone Series: A Kitchen for One | Lindsay Loves - November 12, 2015

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