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Monday, January 23, 2017

Cooking for One: Lunchtime at my House

Since it's just me for lunch at home, five days a week, I find it difficult to get motivated to stop whatever I'm doing, and cook myself a proper meal. I've come up with four types of lunches, for me that are working.

  • the "desperately hungry, but no time to stand in the kitchen to cook, and don't want to wash any dishes" lunch. This consists of a slice of whole wheat bread, spread with peanut butter (natural-style chunky is my fave), and then topped with additional peanuts. It's really quite tasty and filling. The bonus is I don't put this on a plate, but use my cloth napkin from the table, and the only other thing I dirty is the knife used to spread the peanut butter.

  • meal on a plate (or in a bowl, just not in plastic or food storage containers). When I'm serving up dinner, if there's enough leftover, I serve myself an extra plate or bowl of whatever is on the menu that night. I cover this serving and put it in the fridge. At lunchtime the next day, I reheat my meal in the microwave. It's ready in 1 minute, with zero fuss. I don't even have storage or reheating containers to wash. My plate, or bowl, goes into the dishwasher. These are my favorite lunch meals. They are better than commercial, frozen meals, in that I get to eat my good cooking, and on good dishes, not out of plastic.

  • almost-instant soup for one. Earlier this month, I bought a bunch of ingredients from the bulk section to make almost-instant soups. These are the same ingredients that I bought to make soup mixes to give as Christmas gifts. I bought dried onion flakes, a bean and tortilla soup mix, chicken soup base powder, dried cheese tortellinis, dried vegetable soup mix, and some Parmesan cheese. I combine various ingredients in my pot, along with extra chili powder, cumin, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and water, and cook. With some of the soups I make, I also add some canned tomatoes, or tomato sauce, and/or, top with the remnants of a bag of tortilla chips that I've stashed in a cupboard. These are delicious and I look forward to making them for myself. The hands-on time is under 5 minutes, and cooking can take 30 or so minutes, but I can be doing something else during that time. The cost per bowl of soup is about 35 cents.

  • hot dog from the freezer or an egg, scrambled or boiled, along with some sort of starchy side dish, such as a corn tortilla, slice of bread, or a leftover baked potato. Not at all fancy, but it's enough to fill me, something I will enjoy eating, I always have this on hand at home, and it keeps me from getting take-out when I'm coming home from appointments or running errands.
If you're at home, every day by yourself, how do you manage your own lunches?


  1. Leftovers are first and foremost my favorite lunch. When those aren't available, a peanut butter sandwich is the classic standby. Currently, the favorite is a piece of toast with cheese and a hard boiled egg on it. I usually have an apple with all of these. However, I'd be happy to eat lunch at your house any day with the above selections.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I have a boiled egg on toast fairly often, but I've never tried it with cheese, too. It sounds tasty. I'll give that a try, one of these times. Thanks!
      Have a great day, live and learn!

  2. I struggle with lunch sometimes. Leftovers are great, but usually taken to work by hubby. If we have some leftover roast or chicken, just a bit by itself, I will often microwave a "baked" potato and load it up with butter, cheese, sour cream, and green onion and serve it with the meat. Some days I opt for a protein shake or Greek yogurt with fruit. A grilled cheese if not watching carbs, or maybe a little pizza made on a low-carb tortilla if I'm "being good".

    1. Hi Cat,
      Your baked potato lunch, with a bit of meat on the side does sound good, and filling. As does a mini pizza! All good ideas -- yum! I did make myself a oven-toasted cheese sandwich for lunch yesterday. I had that with my stewed fruit that I didn't eat on Thursday. Sunday is an everyone for yourself lunch day.
      I hope your day is off to a great start, Cat!

  3. I split my workday with the morning in the office and the afternoon working at home. My commute home is during my meal break. I often skip lunch or grab a piece of fruit, but love some of these ideas to try.


    1. Hi Saryn,
      When I'm especially busy, and I have bananas at home, then I'll just do a piece of fruit, with maybe a spoonful of peanut butter. My body doesn't do well to completely skip lunch. But I can get by on fruit and peanut butter.
      Your split days sound very busy, Saryn. But at least when you're commuting home, you're not in rush hour traffic.
      Have a great day, Saryn!

  4. Around here, lunch is mostly a "fix your own" affair (left overs, sandwiches). The bigger kids help the little ones.

    I will often times fix myself a huge salad for lunch. Costco sells the big packages of romaine for cheap. I'll top my salads with turkey, sometimes hard boiled egg, olives, pepitas (bought in bulk at WinCo) and homemade vinaigrette. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      You've mentioned this a few times, with your bigger kids helping the smaller kids with meals. I think this is so wise to encourage this. Wise, because it frees you up, but also for your kids to learn to give and accept help to/from siblings.
      Your salad lunch sounds really delicious to me! Very fresh!
      Have a wonderful day, Melissa!

  5. Hope you had a great weekend. I normally have left overs. We have glass bowls with lids that we put them
    into after we eat dinner. Then just microwave and eat.
    Sometimes I have fruit or oatmeal or a fried egg. Very low key if it is just for me.
    Have a blessed day.

    1. Hi Patti,
      Yes, thank you. My weekend was good, but very busy. I hope yours was good, as well!
      I do love microwave and eat lunches. I like having the balanced meal all prepared for me, even if it was me who did the preparing. So long as I can microwave it in the moment, without a lot of fuss at noon, I'm really happy with those lunches.
      Have a lovely day, Patti!

  6. I know this makes me the most boring person around, but I love PB&J and that's my lunch most days. I switch up my bread and/or jam choices to keep it exciting. ;) I have fruit or a veggie with it and milk.

    1. Hi Kris,
      My daughters loved PB&Js all through high school. There was no reason to ever change that for them. Now in college, they do like variety. So they will make all kinds of things for themselves, like salads and soups. I ate a PB&J, everyday, from first grade, through middle school, with a half an apple, cookie and milk, every single day. I prefer peanut butter on fluffier bread than I bake at home. But that's a rarity for me.
      Have a great day, Kris!

  7. Hi everyone!
    I take a lunch to work with me everyday. I'm not picky so it can be leftovers, a sandwich, a wrap, soup. I have a mini griddle I bought once when a store was closing (prob $5 or less) and I can make a panini with my sandwich when I want a warm sandwich at lunch. I warm up pizza on that also. I think I warmed up french fries once too! We're not afraid of leftovers at home especially for next day lunches.

    Today I had leftover spaghetti (from scratch) from yesterday and I have a feeling it will be gone by the time I get home tonight. I know our son took some back to his apartment and hubby will eat some.


    1. Hi Alice,
      What a handy griddle you have for the office! A warm sandwich at lunchtime sounds very appealing, this time of year. Leftover spaghetti is delicious for breakfast, as well as lunch, IMO! I hope there was still some left, last night!

  8. The freezer is the go to place for a quick bite. There are assortments of frozen vegetable in serving size portions, pizzas, and burrito meals, all ready to pop in the microwave frozen. Also, I had started a large zip loc of oddities, before burrito making from leftovers made better sense, since I'd think through the combinations adding a vegetable and protein source for a premade meal in one. I'm really loving the convenience of the uncooked wrappers with long refrigerator shelf life. Easy to heat in a pan on a moment's notice, roll into a burrito and freeze. Our homemade tortillas are too uneven and less pliable since they are cooked then frozen. I never tried freezing uncooked tortillas, maybe that would work better.

    Your meal ideas sound delicious. I love PB with bananas and honey in place of jam or jelly, for an easy satisfying sandwich. That used to be my work sandwich.

    Have a fantastic day!!

    1. Hi YHF,
      I need to come dig through your freezer! Mine has lots of raw ingredients. As soon as I make some room in there I want to begin freezing lunch items.
      I hope your day was great, YHF!

  9. Whatever is leftover is what I have for lunch. Sometimes it is tasty and sometimes it is just fodder.

    1. Hi Anne,
      Well, yes, sometimes lunch is just food. I have a hard time motivating myself to eat healthier foods, though, unless it's something I think will be really tasty. Leftovers are great for that!
      have a great day, Anne!

  10. Since it's usually just me for both lunch and dinner, I don't make a big distinction between the two meals - I just eat the bigger one when I'm hungrier. I have to agree that leftovers are wonderful, and soups too - but I think I'd go nuts if I had to whip up a single serving each time I wanted some - I usually keep meal sized portions of soup and other similar things (chili, casseroles, etc) in the freezer so I can always just grab a quick meal when I'm busy working.

    I used to like wraps or personal pizzas on tortillas for lunch, but I'm experimenting with a gluten free diet to see if it helps some of my digestive and allergic issues, so tortillas and bread are off the table at the moment. I have been exploring corn tortillas recently though - I'm not generally a fan because they get so mushy in the microwave, but I've discovered that if I stick them in the toaster oven for a few minutes it solves that problem. So I've been having a lot of tostadas and/or soft tacos recently - basically just a corn tortilla with refried beans (been using canned 'cause I'm busy) cheese, a bit of lettuce, tomato and some greek yogurt (in place of sour cream).

    Another favorite light meal option for me is sushi - well... without the raw fish - I use smoked salmon or mackerel. I usually make up about 4-5 rolls at a time and stick them in the fridge. I leave them uncut until I'm ready to eat them, so they don't fall apart and turn into a mess. Then when I need a quick meal, I just grab a roll, slice it up, use some soy sauce for dunking and I'm good. As I recall, you're not a fish fan though... so maybe not on the sushi! Anyhow, the only drawback with sushi and/or soft tacos is that they're sorta messy to eat. But that's OK when you're eating alone! :-)

    1. Hi Cat,
      I often have corn tortillas, here. So maybe I can try more bean taco sort of meals. we toast our corn tortillas, too. It really improves the texture. You probably don't eat hot dogs, but one of my favorite meals is a hot dog rolled up in a corn tortilla, and pan-fried. It's good and takes no thought. But it's lacking in nutrients, probably.

      Can you use anything other than seaweed for the wrap on sushi? Not big on fish, but I've seen avocado inside of sushi. I also might like cooked shrimp inside. Great ideas!

      Thanks for the input, Cat! Have a great day.


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