Cooking light for one

January 8, 2008

Late in December, I received a letter from a dieting reader who needed suggestions for cooking for one.

Anne Cotter’s note revealed that she was frustrated that most diet-related cookbooks offered recipes for four and six diners. As a single person, she always had to divide recipes or deal with leftovers — something that she didn’t find desirable given her love of variety and lack of fridge and freezer space.

After reading Anne’s letter (hey, Anne’s first initial, A, is today’s mystery letter) I realized how right she was to complain about this feature in diet-style cookbooks. While I was dieting with earnest (see yesterday’s post) I was basically preparing food for one. Now that I have only a few pounds left to lose, I am just eating smaller portions of the food I prepare for the rest of the family. And, when I think about most dieters I know, it’s seldom that the whole family is eating diet food. More often, only one or two people in the household are dieting.

So, what can lone dieters do? Here are a few suggestions from my experience.

-Stick to very basic entrees such as a grilled skinless, boneless chicken breast, veal or turkey scaloppini sauteed in cooking spray. Finish these meats with small amounts of light cooking sauces, salsa or calorie-reduced salad dressing to add flavour.
-Buy 100-calorie packs of treats so that you can at least snack easily.
-Consult a book such as Going Solo in the Kitchen and use the seasoning proportions in the recipes but make the substitutions necessary to remove calories from fat such as using cooking spray instead of butter or oil and substituting light dairy products for full fat, etc.
-Making single-portion versions of most casseroles is fussy if you eschew batch cooking. So, if making your own freezer entrees isn’t desirable, buy frozen or store-prepared, refrigerated light versions of casseroles from a grocery store and save your cooking energies for making faster-to-prepare foods like the ones mentioned above.

Do you have dieter’s cooking tips you’d like to share? If so, please share them in the Comments section below.

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