Mar 312012
 
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It’s a shame I’m not more adventurous when I’m eating for one, but I’m just not. When Michael has plans with friends and I’m on my own for dinner I tend to choose meals that are easy and simple. I tend to go for the “Big Salad” meal as my stand-by. It’s just a “throw whatever is in the fridge onto some lettuce” kind of dinner. I can get pretty creative with my salads. The Big Salad creation was a staple when I lived alone.

Here are some of my latest “meals for one” creations:

Vegetarian Mexican Rice Bowl

This one was a creation I’d been mulling over for awhile never tried it until recently. I was curious if I could make brown rice in the rice cooker with a can of stewed tomatoes. I wondered if the flavor was enrich the rice and if there’d be enough fluid from a can of stewed tomatoes. I decided to give it a try.

I squeezed out the fluid from the can of stewed tomatoes and it didn’t give much liquid (about half a cup). I needed 2.5 cups of fluid for the rice. So I mixed in some plain water as well as dumping in the tomatoes. I figured any of the extra fluid the rice needed would come from the tomatoes cooking down.

When the rice was done, I topped it with seasoned black beans, a little bit of shredded cheese, half an avocado, sour cream and sliced black olives. I would have added some salsa but we were out.

The combination of carbs and fiber fill you up like you wouldn’t believe. I was stuffed! It was definitely enough dinner for one person and I had a ton of leftover rice for lunches.

 

Changing Up Breakfast

I’m also eating breakfast on my own most mornings now. I do kind of miss sharing our breakfast together. I was getting a bit burned out on eggs but I recently did two different breakfasts that I really liked a lot. I did not take any photos because mornings are rushed enough as it is!

The first breakfast was 2 scrambled eggs, black beans and a dollop of sour cream. But this time I added half an avocado sliced up on top. It was the leftover half from my Mexican bowl dinner the night before. I LOVED adding avocado to my scramble! It was such a great flavor. Making scrambled eggs Mexican with beans and salsa really freshen up the breakfast.

The next day, I did 2 scrambled eggs with black beans and cottage cheese on the side. This was another breakfast that I loved. I wanted to add some protein and the cottage cheese went great with this dish.

 

Breakfast For Dinner

Breakfast for dinner is ALWAYS a good idea when making “dinner for one”! It’s so easy! I’ve been known to have a bowl of cereal and toast for dinner….ahem….. ;) Recently I decided to try breakfast for dinner because it was easy and I didn’t really feel like doing much else. Don’t you hate that when nothing sounds appealing?

First, I cooked down some fresh kale in the skillet. I used some grapeseed oil and then added a splash of chicken broth. When the kale was cooked, I added two eggs into the skillet and scrambled them up. I mixed in the kale and added some feta cheese to it.

I added some black beans to it and had a side of seedless red grapes as well.

I liked the scramble a lot. The feta cheese was really mild (maybe I just didn’t add enough) and the kale was nice in the eggs–kind of like cooked spinach. The meal was filling because of the protein in the eggs and the fiber in the beans. Easy!

QUESTION: What are your favorite “cooking for one” type meals?

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Mar 302012
 
stach

One of the things that sucks about a partner losing a job is that the lifestyle you were once used to gets drastically changed. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, either. Michael and I used to eat out a lot. Both foodies, we’ve been spoiled with the opportunities to eat at some of Portland’s best restaurants. While restaurant eating was one of the first things to go when Michael lost his job, I can’t say that I was entirely heartbroken. In all honesty, I always felt like we ate out too much for my waistline to handle.

Being forced to reign it in for awhile wasn’t the end of the world. We had the opportunity to try a bunch of new recipes and really get creative with the food we had on hand. When we have gone out we used our Groupons and ordered smart to save money.

Michael and I very active people. We love the outdoors and luckily–THAT’S FREE! The downside, the weather in Portland in the winter is nasty and not really the kind of thing we want to do. So that automatically ruled out things we love to do in nice weather like hiking or bike rides. We did go snowshoeing several times–which is free except for the gas money (our shoes are paid for).

We started doing things with friends around the house instead. We met some friends for happy hour–much cheaper. We had another couple over for snacks and card games. We have another couple coming over for a movie night, and we provide the popcorn. Doing things at home immediately cuts down on costs–and we can tell our friends to BYOB.

We took advantage of the free Jazz Festival events. I’m also really good at finding deals in Portland. Here are just a few:

  • The first Sunday of every month OMSI is only $2 per person (instead of $12 per person)
  • The Portland Art Museum is free the fourth Friday of every month from 5-8pm (instead of $15 per person)
  • Last Thursday takes place on NE Alberta and features kooky art and galleries, street performers and food – Free!
  • First Thursday is the yuppie version of Last Thursday in the hoity-toity Pearl District art galleries.
  • Portland State University and Reed College also provide free lectures.

In order to prevent us from sitting at home every weekend feeling mutually depressed about our situation or vegging out in front of the TV, I tried to plan as much fun “free/freeish” stuff for us to do. I also found a list of “recession dates” for us folks that can’t afford much. It’s  a decent list, with some free things and some almost-free things.

  1. Browse the local farmers’ market.
  2. Go on a picnic. All you need is a blanket, fruit, sausage, cheese, crackers and water.
  3. Fly a kite.
  4. Enjoy a romantic home-cooked meal.
  5. Cook dinner together.
  6. Go apple picking.
  7. Give a massage.
  8. Go to the beach.
  9. Attend an open-air festival.
  10. See an art-house movie matinee.
  11. Build a snowman.
  12. Have a barbecue.
  13. Share a sundae.
  14. Attend an art gallery.
  15. Take a hike.
  16. Go to a book signing.
  17. Go for a bike ride.   
  18. Play miniature golf.
  19. Attend a wine tasting.
  20. Go fishing.
  21. Go sledding (with a thermos of hot cider or cocoa).
  22. Visit the zoo.
  23. Rent a movie.
  24. Pick up movie at your local library.
  25. Drive go-carts.
  26. Go window-shopping.
  27. Invite friends over for board games.
  28. Do a Google search for free things to do in your city.
  29. Eat out with a gift certificate from Restaurant.com.
  30. Drive through the country (especially good around Fall).
  31. Play at a playground (swings and teeter-totters are fun!)
  32. Attend a planetarium show.
  33. Browse antique shops.
  34. Go to an open mic night at a coffee shop or bookstore.
  35. Volunteer at a favorite charity.
  36. Attend a high school sporting event.
  37. Watch Shakespeare in the Park.
  38. Have an indoor picnic.
  39. Star gaze (Orion is an easy constellation to spot).
  40. Take a pottery class together.
  41. Go bowling.
  42. Play pool.
  43. Go to the local community pool.
  44. Feed the ducks at a local pond.
  45. Go ice skating.
  46. Go roller skating.
  47. Play laser tag.
  48. Play frisbee.
  49. Go kayaking or canoeing.
  50. Skip rocks at a lake.
  51. Watch a meteor shower (here’s when they happen).
  52. Attend a local high school, community college or university play or musical.
  53. Go camping.
  54. Play basketball together.
  55. Visit a botanical garden.
  56. Go spelunking (but be careful!)
  57. Get a cup of coffee together (hopefully at a spot that offers free refills).
  58. Take a factory tour. Breweries that offer free samples are especially fun.
  59. Take dance lessons at a local community center.
  60. Visit local historic landmarks.
  61. Put together a puzzle.
  62. Carve pumpkins (around Halloween).
  63. Go strawberry picking.
  64. Attend a flea market or swap meet.
  65. Check out yard sales.
  66. Assemble a model airplane then fly it in a park.
  67. Go out for brunch (cheaper than dinner).

If we did everything on that list, we’d be busy for awhile! That on top of our home remodeling projects, we’ve been super busy during Michael’s unemployment.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite type of free or “freeish” date?

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