Cooking for one
August 21, 2011 3:52 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to start cooking for myself more, and cut back on the takeout. Please recommend your favourite cookbooks that feature quick, easy single-serving meals.

I'm not interested in cooking on the weekend and freezing things. I'd like to choose a recipe, stop at the grocery store on the way home from work, and whip up some dinner when I get home. My favourite book for this purpose is Frugal Feasts, more for the variety of flavours than for the 'frugal' aspect. (Saving money isn't an important factor.) There seem to be a lot of "cooking for one" books out there. What are the best ones? Are there any good websites that specialize in this sort of thing?
posted by smilingtiger to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The recently released Serve Yourself is great.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:57 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

The best way to do this is learn the 5 basic cooking techniques and what vegetables and proteins work with each cooking technique. Once you do this, then you can choose based on the amount of time/energy you have. The best cookbook to do this is the CIA's basic cookbook. It shows you the techniques and what goes along with each technique as well as recipes.
posted by TheBones at 4:04 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

"The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters is excellent. Good, simple recipes, which are still good after you learn to cook.
posted by TheCoug at 4:23 PM on August 21, 2011

America's Test Kitchen has great recipes and occasionally has special issues called "Cooking for Two" which comes close...and at least you get leftovers for lunch the next day. :)
posted by lirael2008 at 4:28 PM on August 21, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks mollymayhem! I just downloaded the Kindle edition of Serve Yourself and it looks fantastic - very inspiring! (I should have mentioned in my question - 'available for the Kindle' is a major plus.)
posted by smilingtiger at 5:01 PM on August 21, 2011

Best answer: Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express is a godsend to singletons. And the short, paragraph format makes all his recipes feel approachable. Highly recommend it.
posted by ninjakins at 6:24 PM on August 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Mark Bittman in general is awesome. How to Cook Everything should be a staple in every kitchen. It's great because he gives you a basic recipe and then several different ways to jazz it up.

Also, if you have New York Times access, his 101 easy recipes series have lots of great ideas. I think there's a 101 salads, 101 recipes for the grill, 101 quick meals--all easy to scale for one or 20.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:41 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nigel Slater's The 30-Minute Cook has pretty straight forward recipes (but still covering a variety of cuisines, compared with his Real Fast Food book which is more European). The recipes do not require a million ingredients, but I generally find them acceptable as reflecting the flavours from the nominated cuisine. The recipes are generally for 2 (not one, but a better start than most books), and are usually pretty scalable. Nigel describes the book as "a collection of reminders, recipes and possibilities".
posted by AnnaRat at 1:47 AM on August 22, 2011

Best answer: I like Healthy Cooking for Two (or Just You), because the recipes are very specific and easy to follow.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:07 AM on August 22, 2011

You can literally never go wrong with a subscription to Cooks Illustrated.

They don't emphasize cooking for just one person, but it's an absolutely fantastic resource for all things culinary.
posted by schmod at 7:34 AM on August 22, 2011

How to Cook Everything blows every other cookbook out of the water. It's nuts.
posted by sully75 at 8:58 AM on August 22, 2011

it isn't quite for one, but i can't say enough good things about beth hensperger's not your mother's weeknight cooking or marian burros' dated but very approachable keep it simple. they routinely feed my husband and me with no leftovers, really aren't kidding when they say 25-30 mins (45 mins tops) from start to finish with no preplanning, super easy and quite tasty with no pricey or exotic ingredients (the hensperger has some, but it's categorized well and i just, say, avoid the lobster/shellfish chapter; there's tons of chicken, pork, grains, eggs, etc. sections so it's fine). they're my two favorite "actually does what it says on the tin and saves my hide when it's 5:30 on a thursday and i haven't even thought a bit about dinner yet" books. pam anderson formerly of cook's illustrated also has a similar premise in her how to cook without a book where she lays out blueprints/general recipes for stuff like stir fry, omelets, whatever and then lists all kinds of ingredient possibilities for each. the splendid table's how to eat supper has some winners too, though the ingredients vary more, it's a little more exotic (nothing crazy out there though), occasionally whimsical/dreamy, and it's not comprehensive/thorough compared to the first two books mentioned. has some good ideas though.
posted by ifjuly at 10:48 AM on August 22, 2011

Economy Gastronomy
posted by SueDenim at 6:52 PM on August 22, 2011

Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food was my first cook book and the one I still use the most.
posted by hannahlambda at 6:18 AM on August 23, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, thanks everyone! Just in case anyone's still reading this, I own a lot of cookbooks (including the wonderful How to Cook Everything) - I'm looking for specific "cooking for one" recommendations that fit the requirements listed in my question, which is why I've chosen those answers as best. Please keep the suggestions coming!
posted by smilingtiger at 10:58 AM on August 23, 2011

Best answer: Judith Jones' The Pleasures of Cooking for One. She's not just got recipes, but one part of the book is grouped so as to hack the shopping conundrum as well -- because sometimes single cooks have a problem where we have to buy a whole package of chicken breasts because they don't sell just one. One section of the book deals with the 'Okay, so you had to get a whole package of lamb chops. Here's what you do with the package on the first night -- then you take the leftovers and to THIS on the second night, and then THIS on the third night...and then go look at these other recipes if you still have stuff left over after that."

It was a godsend. Also, Jones was Julia Child's editor, so she knows her stuff.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:45 AM on August 25, 2011

« Older How can I back up my files from a micro SD card...   |   that's no elephant, that's my neighbor Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.