Intro: How to Eat Reasonably Well Without Spending a Lot of Time and Money
If you live alone, there's a temptation to just grab something to eat when you're hungry. Preparing a meal is time-consuming and you end up eating leftovers for days. So, you end up eating junk food, take-out or restaurant food. Great, now you're fat, unhealthy and alone.
This Instructable contains a few tips on how to avoid that. I'm not saying you can eat like a king on pennies or anything but it sure beats the drive-thru.
Step 1: Get Some Containers
What you're looking for are containers that are freezer/microwave/dishwasher-safe and are about the size of a single serving. These are 24oz Glad containers. I use them for most meals. They're also reasonably transparent so I don't have to worry about labeling.
Step 2: Cook Some Meals
Initially, you're going to need a few meals made up-front. I started with six that I cooked over a weekend. Most meals work out to about six servings, so I ended up with more than a month's worth of dinners.
Some foods work well, others not so much. You'll be cooking, freezing and reheating them, so you'll have to work with foods that can take that kind of punishment.
Stuff that works well
- casseroles and stews
- pork chops, pork roast
- pot roast
- roast chicken
- lasagne, rigatoni, tortellini
Stuff that's passable
- burgers, meatball sandwiches
- steak, prime rib
- fried chicken
- baked potatoes
Try to come up with a bunch of meals that a) you'll eat, b) are reasonably heathy and c) freeze well. It's not as hard as you might think. Also try to think up a wide variety of dishes. You don't want to eat the same thing over and over.
Step 3: Divide and Freeze
Once you've made up a meal, divide it up into containers. Try to put in only as much as you think you'll eat at a sitting. You don't want leftovers. Keeping the portions small also helps you avoid overeating.
Stack the containers in the freezer. You'll need room in your freezer for a few dozen containers. I've got mine split onto three shelves to make it easier to access each type.
Step 4: Keep Two in the Fridge
Try to keep at least two portions in the fridge. When you reheat one, move another from the freezer to the fridge. This makes sure you always have one thawed. It also gives you a choice, just in case really don't feel like curry and yellow rice today.
Step 5: Reheat and Eat
Pop a container in the microwave for a couple minutes and dump it on a plate. Wouldn't hurt to arrange it on the plate a bit. Sit down and have a nice dinner.
The dinner pictured here is pot roast with potatoes, carrots, green beans and gravy. The total cost was about $10 (I got a good deal on the roast). I was able to divide it into 5 containers, for a per-meal cost of $2.
It took me about 2 1/2 hours to make but only 30 minutes of that required my physical presence (the rest was simmering time). So, divided over 5 portions, that's 6 minutes per.
A couple of additional tips:
1. Try to find a nice, inexpensive wine. You don't have to drink it every night but it really does make the meals more appealing.
2. Find a good local salad bar. Most grocery stores have them. Every few days, drop by and load up a container. It'll last you three or four days.
3. Keep some fresh fruit around. Apples and bananas are reasonably durable. You can eat these as snacks or as dessert. I'm not saying you have to give up junk food altogether but it helps to have an alternative on hand.
4. As you use up portions, make new ones. Figure on making a new batch about once a week. You can always skip weeks and make two batches next time. Just be sure to keep a running inventory.