How to Cook Delicious Meals for Yourself—on a Budget
It's easy to head to the microwave when dinnertime rolls around, but there are ways to cook for yourself without defaulting to frozen food and cereal.
Cooking for one presents many challenges: ingredients often go to waste, portion control is difficult, and it can be hard to cook satisfying, creative meals on a tight budget. This week on "Adulthood Made Easy," one of Real Simple's newest podcasts, host Sam Zabell called in an expert for advice on how to grocery shop, manage her time, and make cooking fun. Joe Yonan, cookbook author and food and dining editor at The Washington Post has a few secrets for creating the perfect grocery list and multitasking while making dinner, as well as the must-have tools all beginner cooks should invest in. Listen to the full episode below, and don't forget to subscribe to the Real Simple podcasts on iTunes.
Yonan's cookbooks, Serve Yourself, Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One ($17, amazon.com) and Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook ($19, amazon.com), are perfect for beginner cooks who still want to make quality meals. Below, find one of his favorite recipes for enfrijoladas—you'll want to make it tonight.
Enfrijoladas with Egg, Avocado, and Onion
2 (6-inch) or 3 smaller corn tortillas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 very small onion or large shallot lobe, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne (optional), plus more as needed
3/4 cup cooked cooked black or pinto beans or rinsed canned beans, drained
3/4 cup bean cooking liquid or water
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
2 tablespoons feta or queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 avocado, cubed
1. Warm the tortillas by heating them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until they are pliable. Wrap them in a packet of aluminum foil to keep them warm while you make the sauce.
2. Pour the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Reserve 1 teaspoon of onion for the garnish, and when the oil shimmers, add the remaining onion and the garlic to the skillet and sautÃ© until tender. Sprinkle in the ancho chile, cumin, and cayenne, stir to combine, and let the spices sizzle and bloom for a few seconds. Stir in the beans and the bean liquid.
3. Bring the beans to a simmer, then mash them in the skillet with a fork or potato masher. Taste and add salt and more cayenne as needed. Cook until the beans are slightly thickened but still fairly loose, the texture of very thick soup.
4. Using tongs, immerse the warm tortillas in the sauce to coat, then take them out and fold or roll them; transfer them to a plate and spoon the rest of the sauce on top. Sprinkle with the reserved onion, chopped egg, feta, and avocado, and eat.
Reprinted with permission from Eat Your Vegetables by Joe Yonan, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC