Things I Learned Cooking for Two

This week, my friend Tiffany is making a big life change. She and her long-time boyfriend are moving to a new place: Victoria, Texas. It’s an exciting time for their relationship, so I thought I’d share some cooking advice for their new life of co-habitation.

I know what Morgan is thinking as she reads this post’s title. “Hil calls me in a tizzy when she sees a spice she doesn’t know in a recipe … what in the world is she going to share about cooking?”

It’s true, I’m way amateur in the kitchen. But I feed my husband every day (and I haven’t poisoned him yet), I make roux from scratch (that did impress Steph, and she is a professional food writer AND a cajun), and I have good intentions. I feel ready to share.

Husbanks and I have been a family for many years (that happens when you marry young). Here is what I have learned cooking for two.

1. Shower Bounty

When you throw a wedding or baby shower for your friends, you’re going to have leftover snack food. Serve carrots and celery sticks at the shower and keep the leftovers to make chicken noodle soup later on. Also, avoid bananas and apples in your fruit salad. Citrus, grapes, and berries will keep longer so the guest of honor or hostess can enjoy fruit for breakfast the next day.

2. Muffin-sized

If you are going to make a pan of cornbread, loaf of cranberry bread, or yummy cake, consider making muffins or cupcakes instead. You don’t have to cut into all of them so they will keep longer. You can easily freeze them.

3. Fajitas for Four

Go ahead, get the family sized fajitas AND chips and queso when you eat out at your favorite Mexican eatery. The next day you can use the leftover fajitas and fixin’s to make nachos, taco salad, burritos, enchiladas, or tortilla soup.

4. Knowing is half the battle

If you know what is in your fridge, you are more likely to use it. Remember what is going to expire so that it doesn’t go bad before you enjoy it.

5. Make a menu

We buy a couple peppers, a couple apples, and a couple onions most weeks. With them I can make gumbo, fajitas, stir fry, lunch snacks, or curry. The produce doesn’t go bad because I know what is next on my menu, so I use up the produce.

6. I Believe in Yesterday

Embrace the leftovers, folks. When you have leftover rice, use it in your next meal. When you make a pot of gumbo, pack it for lunch. Remember what keeps well, and make that in bulk. And don’t forget – the freezer is a wonderful thing. If you are making a full recipe, maybe you can freeze half of it so you don’t get sick of it. Lasagna for lunch three business days in a row can be daunting. My colleague, Jess grew up in the country, and her mom went to the grocery store only once a month. How did she manage, you ask? She froze everything.

7. Ration your cookies

You can freeze cookie dough! Martha taught me that. Just make balls with the dough, freeze them for a few minutes on a cookie sheet (to make them a little hard), then store them in a container in the freezer! You can bake a few at a time, instead of making all 36 and trying to eat them all.

8. Get Everyday Food magazine

Speaking of Martha … this magazine is something very important that Morgan taught me. It’s a fantastic magazine that honors in-season produce, healthy choices, cooking on a budget, and time-saving tips.

Bless you in your new life adventure, Tiffany!

  1. #1 by weslie Moore on July 7, 2010 - 12:20 pm

    Awww, Hil you’re such a good friend! I second the freezer love. I would also like to add that buying a big ol’ box of Ziploc freezer bags from Costco is mega handy. This way I can willy nillily buy the family packs of meat or make the jumbo crock pot of soup or chili and freeze the rest. The ziploc bags even come with a handy dandy little space to write the contents and DOF (date of freezing.)

  2. #2 by Morgan on July 7, 2010 - 1:13 pm

    Ditto x 8. This is good advice, HilStreet friends!

  3. #3 by thetexanadian on July 9, 2010 - 4:14 pm

    Thanks for the tips Hil – co-habitation should be much more successful now 😉 Im checking out Everyday Food now – it is a great resource!

  4. #4 by Stephanie on July 9, 2010 - 9:29 pm

    Totally agree with everything! And yes, I was impressed with your roux-making because it is tough, and takes patience. Even for a veteran Cajun. I will also add that if you want to save money, invest in a deep freezer to keep in your garage. Then, when you see tasty pork tenderloins and the like on sale, you can stock up and freeze them. This saves you on those weeks when you can’t get to the store. 🙂

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