Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cooking for the Single Guy - A Guest Post

We have the technology... to improve toast
Have you ever had a condiment sandwich?  If you answered yes, laughed out loud or sadly sighed and nodded then you know the challenges of feeding yourself as a bachelor.  For those lucky ones who have no idea what that is, or have a suspicion it’s a euphemism for something (it isn’t), it is exactly what it sounds like.  A sandwich made with only condiments because you have nothing else in the fridge.  This is probably the part where I say “It’s really not all that bad,” but uh…  Well, it’s about what you’d expect, I’ll leave it at that.

When people talk about bachelor cooking (Bachelor Chow:  Now comes in flavors!) most people probably think of Top Ramen, KRAFT Mac and Cheese, frozen pizzas… toast maybe.  There’s a reason for that.  Several, actually.  Tight budgets, busy schedules, lack of cooking skill or because it’s just me and I can get away with it.  That last one may seem thrown in for comic effect (it was) but it may very well be the most compelling.

Grab a fork, before it spoils!
Honestly though, it doesn’t have to be that way at all.  With a decent knife, a cheap cutting board and some creativity one can make vastly tastier and healthier dishes from scratch such as ramen noodles, homemade macaroni and cheese, and french bread pizza!  Heck, you can even improve toast!  For those of you arguing those are all the same, you obviously never had my homemade mac and cheese with six different types of cheese.  They were all in the crisper tray and needed to be eaten.  Some were individually wrapped cheese sticks.

The greatest challenges (for me, anyway) of bachelor cooking would have to be portion sizes, grocery shopping, access to cutlery and lack of ingredients.  That seems vague, so let’s break it down.  1) Portion Sizes:  Cooking for one means one good sized batch of spaghetti sauce and I’ll be having things that contain spaghetti sauce for the next week.  I have to eat it all before it turns because on my budget, spoiled food is NOT an option.  2) Grocery Shopping:  akin to challenge number 1, buying something seemingly simple may mean tweaking some recipes in unholy ways just to eat it all.  Eating an entire loaf of bread by yourself is surprisingly difficult.  3) Cutlery:  I find that I don’t have things on hand that are really pretty important.  Life without a can opener might as well be lived in a cave.  4) Ingredients:  When it gets close to payday I find myself playing the ingredient game.  It goes like this:  I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Bread: Check.  Peanut Butter: Check.  Jelly: Nope.  French toast then!  Bread: Check.  Cinamon: Check.  Powdered Sugar: Check.  Maple Syrup: Check.  Butter: Check.  Eggs: …[Insert Irritated Sigh].

Looks better than mine usually do!
This game usually cycles through until I actually find a recipe that I have everything I need or give up and enjoy a nice condiment sandwich.  There is a devilishly sneaky third option though:  The Franken-Meal.  This is where you pick some sort of base (Bread, Rice or Pasta are my three go-to ones), figure out a method of cooking (bake, fry, grill, or soup) and then start stitching together random things you find in your fridge.  Note: Don’t boil a Franken-Meal unless it’s soup, they don’t turn out well.  It’s a good way to end up with some bizarre looking meals that taste pretty good, like scrambled eggs, bacon and sauteed snow peas served over rice or perhaps a nice spaghetti and meatball sandwich with provolone cheese.  The most difficult part will be answering the question “What are you cooking?”  Just do what I do and say you saw it on the food channel and people assume you know what you’re doing.  You could also yell “IT’S SCIENCE!” then laugh maniacally and they assume you’re crazy.  You know, dealer’s choice.

The Amused Muse is a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none bachelor, cook, writer, parent and full-time (and possibly slightly mad) night owl who writes for Muse’s Mixed Nuts.  You can also find him on Google+ or hiding in the pantry waiting to scare the pants off of someone.

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