Seafood Cooking for One: How to Stock Your Sea Pantry
Did you know over 34 million people in the U.S. live alone? Add to that number those who don’t live alone, but have different diets from others in their household, and you get a lot of people who could benefit from knowing how to properly cook for one!
It’s true cooking for one has its own unique challenges. For example, I often hear that people don’t think it’s worth all the effort to cook for themselves. Others hate buying food to prepare, knowing a lot of it will likely go to waste. Some feel the process is just boring or lonely. But in addition to being a potentially stress-relieving, meditative activity, cooking for ourselves helps us eat better. In fact, we eat four to five times more vegetables when we cook for ourselves instead of dining out or ordering in.
One of the key ways I take the guesswork (and intimidation) out of cooking for myself is by always having a well-stocked Sea Pantry. I keep ingredients on-hand that I know consistently create satisfying, nutritious meals that don’t take a lot of time or effort to prepare. An extra bonus? The Sea Pantry helps me tackle the unique challenges of cooking for one, like avoiding food waste, repurposing leftovers, scaling ingredients, and more.
So here are three simple steps to creating your own Sea Pantry, so cooking for one is a whole lot more fun!
Step One: Stock Your Freezer
Start your Sea Pantry by stocking your freezer with individual servings of quick-portioned fish, shellfish, or seaweeds. These proteins are an incredible and sustainable way to get dinner on the table quickly and deliciously! Grocery stores like Whole Foods carry individually wrapped portions of salmon that you can buy in bulk and cook one at a time, thus cutting down on food waste and making cooking less overwhelming. Most fish and seafood will last at least one year in the freezer, so don’t be afraid to bulk buy. Plus, you can watch sales on your faves and buy even smarter.
Step Two: Use Your Cabinet Space
Next, expand your Sea Pantry real estate into your cabinets!
If you aren’t already, it’s time to get into tinned and canned seafood. Tinned seafood is an excellent, budget-friendly pantry option, and comes in conveniently-sized portions of two to four ounces – making it perfect for quick, single-serve salads and sandwiches for one. Best of all, canned fish (e.g., tuna, salmon, sardines) is rich in omega-3s, which, research suggests, decrease inflammation in the body and contribute to brain and heart health.
Supplement your Sea Pantry with items like pasta and pasta sauce, dried or canned beans and lentils, canned tomatoes, rice, quinoa, and breadcrumbs. Having these easy items on hand makes the idea of cooking for yourself a lot less daunting, and they serve as a nice base to a tasty bowl of fish or shellfish. I also like to keep pickled seaweeds and vegetables in my cabinets to add crunch and balance to my seafood dishes.
The best thing about keeping your Sea Pantry fully stocked is that you can cook for one with no recipe required! These stock ingredients provide dishes with a simple, but delicious layering of flavor that can easily be portioned for single servings.
Step Three: Buy Fewer Ingredients
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a rack or drawer-full of dried herbs and spices to add flavor to your dishes. Most spices you collect are used in recipes very rarely and, when they expire, just go to waste. Instead, opt to keep a small assortment of flavor-enhancers on hand. Mustards add tremendous tang to proteins and salad dressings. A spoonful of horseradish can liven up anything from sandwich spreads to savory scones. Acid in any form can seriously transform a dish, so it’s always good to have lemons or vinegar in your Sea Pantry, too. And don’t forget about the incredible umami of seaweed. A puree of kelp or a dusting of a dried seaweed blend can really pack a punch in your dish.
Remember cooking and eating dinner alone doesn’t have to be a sad affair. If anything, it’s a chance to collect your thoughts, be with yourself in solitude, and release the craziness of the day. So don’t be afraid to explore the simple pleasures of preparing yourself small suppers whenever possible. You’ll be cooking with flavors you enjoy, saving money, and contributing to ocean abundance in the process!
Drop me a line and tell me about some of the dishes for one you’re preparing out of your Sea Pantry!