McClellan: It’s not always easy to cook for one | Barbara McClellan

thank you. You brought joy to my heart last week through emails, written notes and spoken word when I came across you here and there.

I try very hard to reply to every message you send and answer promptly. I realize some of them are emergency cooking questions (Can baking soda be substituted for baking powder/I have a cake in the oven and forgot to add something – vanilla, eggs, milk/I don’t have butter, can I substitute oil?). Although these do not require a 911 call, they are emergencies of some sort. The other orders are for recipes the reader prepared, enjoyed and lost.

I understand this dilemma well. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out that recipe and get back to you. I know I missed some of your emails and I apologize for not replying. If you take the time to write, I can certainly find time to respond. I am still haunted by a book written several months ago that I have read and thought about and intend to answer after some reflection and research. Well, I didn’t answer right away and I lost track of the question. Although I don’t have the name of the person who inquired, I remember the question well. “Do you have any recipes for cooking for one person? I recently lost my wife and found it difficult to cook for myself, and therefore I am not eating as nutritious as I should.”

I know exactly how this person feels. The answer is “not exactly.” However, I do have a few things that can help. Of course, you could always cook one baked potato, one chicken breast, one sandwich, etc., but in terms of cooking real recipes like soups, stews, roasts, and casseroles, I don’t have real recipes for one except for my old favorite that goes by many names.

As a Campfire girl, we called her Hobo Packs. On a piece of tin foil, place a seasoned hamburger (your choice of how large it is). Top with a small potato (sliced), a carrot (sliced), a slice of onion, salt and pepper. Seal tightly and place in a 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven (on a small cookie sheet). Open the package a little and put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on how well the meat is cooked.

The best remedy I’ve found with one’s culinary experience is not to do it. Go ahead and make a regular recipe (or even double the recipe). Eat for a day or two and then freeze it in small portions. Even better, share part of the recipe when you first prepare it with a friend or neighbor who might be in a similar situation. I think you will find very few people who will turn down your offer of something homemade.

I’ve discovered the need to keep healthy snacks on hand. Other than that, when I’m careless about eating regular nutritious meals, I’ll start looking for just about anything to eat, and usually find my secret stash of peanut M&Ms that my gorgeous neighbor Pam Ford (Miss Canada) provides me. I know that raw vegetables, nuts, chickpeas, fruits and crackers are the best choice.

Although I try very hard not to use many processed foods, I have found some frozen mini meals that are low in salt, preservatives, and other chemicals. I keep one or two of these in the fridge for emergencies so I can live on things other than a steady diet of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist. Write it at or Attention Longview News-Journal, PO Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.


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