Quick meals for one
Buy an excellent 3-5 pound whole chicken, suitable for roasting. Look for one with firm creamy white flesh that was raised locally, and avoid the mass produced ones that are bloody and sad looking.
If you don’t already have the following other ingredients at home, also purchase: white rice, flour, baking powder, frozen mixed veggies, frozen peas, eggs, a lemon, an onion or two, fresh celery, some red-skinned new potatoes, butter, olive oil, a bag of ramen noodles, a chunk of fresh ginger, garlic, rosemary, soy sauce, a bag of fresh stir-fry mixed veggies, Raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing, mayonnaise, a bag of craisins, and a small bag of chopped walnuts.
Your total cost, depending on where you live, should run between $30 and $35. That sounds like a lot, but if you divide it by the minimum number of meals you will get, it comes to only $3 or $4 a meal. Plus, you won’t need every drop of every ingredient. You’ll have some left.
Roast the chicken in a medium open pan at 375 degrees until the skin is crisp and a fork or knife stuck into the fattest part of the chicken runs with clear juice, not blood. This should take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes.
Prepare your roast chicken by rinsing it out thoroughly. Peel a whole onion and put it inside the chicken cavity with a few stalks of celery with the leaves attached. Place some new potatoes around the chicken (cut them in half if they are large) and maybe a few mini-carrots if you have any and you like them. Cut your lemon in quarters and squeeze it over the chicken and potatoes, then stuff the lemon quarters in the cavity with the onion & celery. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle all over with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Now put it in the preheated oven.
When the chicken is done, take it out and cook the frozen peas by nuking them in a small dish covered with plastic wrap for 2-4 minutes. Don’t overcook them. Butter the peas, and eat them with slices of roast chicken and new potatoes.
Sunday Night Pick the meat off the cooled chicken carcass and place in a sealed container. Chop any leftover potatoes and place in another bowl. Discard the lemon wedges. Chop the onion and celery from inside the chicken cavity and cover the picked-clean carcass with water in a large stockpot. Heat to boiling and add the chopped onion & celery from inside, then simmer for one to two hours until the little pieces of meat fall off the bones. Throw away the bones and refrigerate the broth.
Put about half of the chicken you picked off the carcass in a small bowl with 1/3 cup of nuts, 1/3 cup of raisins, 1/3 cup of raspberry vinaigrette, and a couple of dollops of mayo. Mix thoroughly. This will make two large or three smaller chicken salad sandwiches to take to work for lunch during the week. You can also just put a scoop of the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce and take that instead of a sandwich.
Monday’s dinner is Chicken Stir Fry. Grate about a tablespoon of fresh ginger and combine it in a large non-stick frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil and a teaspoon of chopped fresh garlic. Whatever you do, don’t substitute powdered ginger for fresh–once you have new ginger in stir-fry, you will never go back to the powdered stuff.
Bring one cup of rice and two cups of water to boil in a saucepan, turn heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the stir-fry.
Heat the oil with the ginger & garlic over medium-high for a minute but do not burn the garlic. Toss in the bagged fresh stir fry veggies, and whatever is left of the chicken you didn’t use up yet. Stir-fry until crisp-tender and serve over rice with soy sauce. You should have enough left over for a second meal either for lunch or later in the week for dinner.
Take out the chicken broth you made Sunday night and pour half of it into a saucepan with a shake of soy sauce. Bring to a boil and add a package of ramen noodles, a half a cup of frozen peas, and maybe a tablespoon or two or leftover stir fry if you have it. Turn off the heat and wait three minutes for the ramen noodles to cook. Pour into a bowl and eat.
Take out the rest of the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium, add a couple of diced new potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Add half a bag of frozen mixed veggies and continue to cook while you prepare some dumpling noodles.
In a small bowl, prepare the dumpling noodles by beating one egg with a couple of tablespoons of water. Beat in some flour and a pinch of salt and pepper until sticky dough forms. Drop the dough by half-teaspoonfuls (they will puff up) into the gently boiling broth and veggies, then turn the heat down to simmer, cover, and cook about 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour into a bowl and eat. Yum. My kids will live on these dumplings if I let them. I think they would taste dishwater if I put meatballs in it. This is leftover stir fry or chicken salad night, take your pick. Do you still have chicken-food left? If you do, freeze it in meal-sized microwavable containers and order yourself a pizza. I mean, come on –Who wants to eat chicken every single night for a whole week???
Probably not you!