Cooking for Two Instead of a Crowd!

I grew up in a large family- two parents plus five kids, four of which were boys! Many of my cooking skills and favorites recipes came from my mom as she taught me while growing up. From her, I learned how to brown hamburger, make spaghetti sauce, knead bread, and bake cookies. In addition to this, I also worked at camps feeding 200-300 people every day. I know how to cook for a crowd!

And then I went to college. And then I got married. I went from feeding 7 people, or more, to feeding just me and my husband. Can I tell you, it was a little weird. I suddenly had to change how I cooked, how I shopped, and my mind frame while I was in the kitchen. It’s completely different to cook for just my husband and I, especially getting to know his likes and tastes.

But as I have done this, I’ve learned a few tricks for cooking in smaller amounts. Changing recipes can be easy in some ways, but tricky in others!

While most recipes are easy to change, either for a crowd or just for two, some things are hard to adjust without trial and error. Spices and leavening are a couple of the biggest things to watch out for! The amount of yeast, baking soda, or baking powder usually adjusts fine, but sometimes it can go a wonky. If the first attempt at a recipe reacts strangely, try just tweaking the amount of the leavening to see if that helps the texture of the recipe. With spices, the intensity of the flavor can increase exponentially. Be careful with large amounts of spices! You can always add more spice, but if you get too much pepper in something, it becomes inedible!

Many recipes are set to feed 4 or 6 people. Cut a recipe in half! If it calls for a 9x13 pan, cutting the recipe in half will generally fit an 8 inch or 9 inch square pan. Use a smaller skillet for stovetop recipes. A smaller pot for the soup. If you have trouble cutting an amount in half (what is half of one third?) there are several measurement converters online!

Get some storage containers for the fridge and freezer. Whether you store leftovers in them (leftovers are my friend!) or store part of a can of something until you need the rest, they are super useful! This will also save you money! No eating lunch out, you can use the rest of the can of veggies later, add the rest of that soup to another recipes. Lots of possibilities. I will often get a large package of meat, then separate it into several smaller portions, and freeze what I don’t use immediately. Any money saving trick.

Use this as a chance to explore more options. It’s a lot easier to experiment with a recipe that feed 2-4 compared to one that feeds 6-8. It’s cheaper, and for me I like to try out a small amount rather than have a huge recipe. If it fails, not as much waste as if you messed up a recipe for 8 people!

One of my favorite recipes is really easy to feed a few people or a bigger group. I’ve included the small version, but just multiple it for a larger gathering!

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    Brenda Lower
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2015
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