Cooking for just one or two – after spending years feeding a family of four, five or even six – poses a special challenge for empty nesters and boomers like me.
Science project growing in the fridge above.
I still strive to eat fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats, but find I’m forever cleaning out the vegetable drawer and unable to identify some of the petrified carcases. Even a pound of bacon seems to dry up before I can use it up. And those family packs of fresh chicken breasts are just too overwhelming to deal with.
One of the best discoveries I’ve made this year is Tyson’s flash frozen chicken tenders. These little wonders can be purchased for as little as $5 for a 2.5 pound package (just watch the grocery ads and stock up when your grocer puts them on special for $4.99). Kroger also makes a similar product and just as good – sometimes even cheaper. They are good for seven or eight meals in a jiffy. There is absolutely no waste – pure lean protein, and as tender as if you had boiled them to death.
Two chicken tenders are ample for a meal for one and may be removed from the ziplock pack and placed frozen solid on a baking sheet. I spray with a good dose of Pam Olive Oil and douse with lemon pepper, cumin, garlic powder – whatever floats your boat. They go into a 375 degree oven and come out fork tender in 30 minutes.
You can also buy Tyson or Kroger flash frozen whole boned chicken breasts, but I find they are just too big – they look like turkey breasts! Where are they growing these monster chickens and what the heck are they feeding them?
If I have my frozen tenders in the freezer and a package of prewashed spinach in the fridge, I know I can produce a meal worthy of a chef in minutes and no pots to wash. I also keep (19-ounce) jars of sweet red peppers I pick up at the Dollar Tree (Breckenridge Farms). They are a colorful and nutritious addition to any salad, wrap or soup. They also keep well in the refrigerator for at least a week or until they are all gone. Can’t say the same for the fresh variety.
Here’s a tip B (my son) taught me – when reclosing a freezer bag, use a straw to suck out the excess air. The bag will collapse and you won’t get freezer burn.To prevent a possible landslide of stacked freezer meals, store your frozen bags of food standing on edge — much as you’d stack old-fashioned record albums (I’m dating myself, aren’t I?).
So you got your bag of Tyson chicken tenders, a jar of sweet peppers, a bag of spinach and a hunk of Parmesan cheese. You’re dressed for a week’s measure of good eats – all for about $15. Add a loaf of crusty loaf french bread, a bunch of scallions, a pack of mushrooms, a good olive oil and – trust me on this – a bottle of Colavita Balsamic Vinegar, you can have the Pope or the President over for dinner.