You’ve just finished the first week at your new location as a travel nurse. You’re starting to get acquainted with your surroundings, new schedule and just getting used to the new routine. To make life a little easier during your transition you probably went out to eat or just grabbed something quick on the way home. Like most, not everyone is afforded the time to cook every day, what with our busy work and social schedules. Sure, dining out can be convenient or a great way to get out there and socialize with people you’re just meeting, but it is not necessarily the most economical, nor the most nourishing.
So you’re saying to yourself, “I waste so much food when I cook by myself” or, “It’s just not worth my time and energy.” Cooking for oneself can both be fun and demanding. It is quite a chore to break down a recipe that is catered to four or maintain a healthy diet with take out. It’s fun, because you have total freedom in deciding what, when and where to eat, and eating a well prepared meal can equal an explosion of delight for the senses. Eating at home promotes healthy dining, it is less expensive and you get to actually concoct something of your own.
Lots of people, especially those in the healthcare profession often have a crazed schedule which in turn causes them to snack throughout the day, skip meals entirely, run through the local burger joint or another grab and go option. Neglecting meals or eating foods with high fat content can be damaging to your body and result in loss of energy. Most people today have careers that offer little in imagination so cooking can be a delightful way to step out of the box, be original, and use your creativity. There is more to life than the drive-thru, grocery store deli, and pizza delivery. Do something bold for a change: make your dinner. With just a few easy-to-remember tips you could be saving money and eating healthier! So what can you do to help yourself?
Make a list of menu items you’d like to prepare throughout the course of the week. While at the store it is always tempting to buy what you see, but try and stick to your plan. Also, never, never under any circumstance go to the store when you’re hungry. If you do, it is guaranteed you will buy something you don’t need, even worse, something you may regret. This will keep your budget under control as well as your waistline.
Since you’re only cooking for one it is important to buy just enough of what you’ll need. Do go shopping once a month for the essentials and non-perishables, but try and make it a habit to frequent the store at least once a week to replace your veggies, milk and other perishables. When shopping for produce remember to buy small quantities, pre-packaged portions or frozen vegetables. Buy smaller cuts of meat, or ask the butcher behind the deli to slice the meat exactly as you like. This will keep costs down, your food tasting fresh and delicious.
Divide & Conquer
Making dinner for one can be quite complicated and often frustrating when trying to reduce the serving size. One way to combat this would be to go ahead and make the recipe as specified regardless of serving size and then freeze the remaining portions to eat at a later date. Casseroles, lasagna and stews are all great meals that freeze well. Another way might be to use a slow cooker or “Crock Pot”. The portions are large but this allows for plenty of leftovers for the week or, again freeze and store.
Make it Yours
Often times eating alone can be boring and monotonous. To make dinner more of an occasion, try setting the table with placemats, use your best plates and add some color with flowers as the centerpiece. Even the color of your food can be a factor in your enjoyment. Keep it colorful. Add a green salad, fresh bakery bread and your favorite bottle of vino. Remember this is your time, so make the most of it and more importantly, make it fun!!
Now after all these helpful hints you should be able to begin a regime that will keep your pantry stocked and your belly full. Of course there will be those days when you haven’t the time to shop for the necessary ingredients but want to keep eating right. Lucky for you there is an alternative. A new trend that is sweeping the nation is going to stores where you can pick out a pre-prepared meal and all you have to do is cook it. There are also places where you decide what to make and purchase all the necessary ingredients right there in the store. With all this available to you, one should never go a day without eating what’s best for you. However, we all have our guilty pleasures and we shouldn’t give up what makes us happy, at least in moderation!
Here are a few links for recipes and other dinner suggestions: