Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cooking for How Many?

I know how to cook for two. I know how much food to take out if I want just enough or if I want there to be leftovers. When I got divorced, I had to learn how to cook for one, which is difficult because food tends not to come in single servings. It's also tough to be motivated to cook for one. I had a lot of cereal, soup, and pasta- things that could easily be portioned.

When I got remarried, I suddenly had to cook for three. I now know that 3/4 of a pound of pasta and one jar of sauce is just about right. If I kick up the sauce with extra ingredients and use the full pound of pasta, there will be leftovers.

Chicken tenderloins come seven to a package. That's three for my husband, two for me, and two for my stepson. One can of corn splits three ways perfectly. I can buy a two pack of steak, plus one individually wrapped steak to feed three. One head of broccoli steams a serving for each of us.

It took a lot of trial and error to get to this point. I made meals that left way too much in the end and meals that left us scrambling for snacks. But there is a balance and a rhythm I've come to.

That is, until my in-laws moved in. Suddenly all of my portions are null. To feed five people requires the extra large package of chicken breasts. (Did you know those cost more than $12?) That usually leaves one chicken breast left over- often a scrawny piece that certainly can't be turned into leftovers for five. If I chop it up to mix in a bowl of salad or rice, I can make lunch for two.

So I'm back at the beginning learning how to portion appropriately for four adults and a growing boy whose appetite is sometimes equal to my husband's and other times satiated by a mere three bites. While I'm decent in the kitchen, I wouldn't say I'm one of those people that can take last night's meatloaf and turn it into tonight's beef demi-glaze in a reduction sauce. (Heck, I don't even know if all those words go together.)

I'll keep trying. Eventually I'm sure I'll figure out how many pounds of ground beef and taco shells are needed. If anyone has suggestions for feeding five, I'd be appreciative. I'm thinking my crockpot could get some more use.

6 comments:

  1. You mean you eat more than Cheerios?

    just kidding :)

    I'm trying to think of dishes I make that often have leftovers: soup, chili, pot roast, pork loin, lasagna...and then there's always Papa John's! LOL

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  2. It has been a while since I had pizza- LOL! Thanks for the ideas. Pot roast and pork loin sound good. We did chili last week. Although my friend did send me a link to Cheerios recipes. In case you're wondering, you can make chicken tenders coated with Cheerios. I haven't tried it... yet.

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  3. I've totally made Chicken coated in crushed corn flakes before and it's really good!

    I have a beef stew recipe for the crock pot that rocks. Throw in a loaf of bread and you're good to go. For T and me it makes a dinner, leftovers and another dinner for the freezer. Of course, since he's so tall he eats enough for two!

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  4. Hi Toomanytoasters! After reading thru your blog I decided that you are a perfect candidate for my Bonus Mom Badge! Please visit my blog to see your award and feel free to pass it on to another great Bonus Mom. If you would link the badge back to my blog we can keep in touch and others will know the meaning behind the badge. Best Regards!

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  5. I hear you! After being a single girl, sometimes I now feel like a cook in an institution, stirring vast tubs of stew-like much with industrial size ladles.

    And not one of my three stepboys will eat rocket, goat's cheese, balsamic vinegar, polenta, caramelised onions, meats other than chicken.... the list goes on, and on, and on.

    And, to add insult to injury, after a little maternal reprogramming, they will no longer eat my light, lush delectable pancakes unless they are made to their mother's sludgy crudcake recipe.

    So much for my gourmet pretensions!

    I've added you to my blogroll - love your work!

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  6. Joules- Beef stew is a great idea, thanks!

    Dawson Family- I am honored. Thank you so much for the badge. Watch for tomorrow's post.

    stepmumoftheyear- It's tough when the list of "will not eat" items is so long. You must be a creative chef. Thanks for the blogroll link!

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