Eating Healthy/Meals for One

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TresBelle65
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Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by TresBelle65 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 3:48 pm

I'm now living alone and only eat with others whenever I go out, or invite friends & family over - so basically, I'm now eating alone about 80% of the time.
Obviously, I need to get better at this...I seem to be tossing out/wasting a lot of food. I find it nearly impossible to make a recipe that serves less than 4 - and after 3 days of the same thing, I don't want to look at it any more. I started going for take out, but that gets very expensive - I do economize by saving some for the next day. After living in Italy for awhile, I wasn't used to American sized portions.

It seems that every thing is sold in large sizes, except processed cans of soup or frozen meals.

Luckily, it seems that small tubs of hummus last for awhile.

I eat a mostly whole foods diet - do not like processed food much.

All suggestions appreciated.

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Toons
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Toons » Sun Aug 28, 2016 3:54 pm

"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

yun83
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by yun83 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:01 pm

Invest in a good freezer.

If you're handy in the kitchen it is a simple matter to scale up the recipe so you have more, then you can just freeze the remainder and go back to it.

Unless you don't like leftovers, then you have a problem. It's also sometimes a simple matter of taking what you have and integrating it into a new recipe. For example, baked chicken can easily become chicken on a salad, chicken in a soup, or a casserole, etc.

Example: I can take simple cooked lentils and eat them with rice, or throw them into a curry, or integrate them into a soup. Most of them time I just eat them plain, though, I'm not very picky as long as it is wholesome...

JoinToday
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by JoinToday » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:03 pm

I cook for 3, but for what it is worth:

1. I make a big batch of soup (tomato typically) and put portion sized amounts in quart sized freezer bags and freeze. Always ready when I want tomato soup

2. Do the same as 1 with chili

3. Go to the butcher counter & get fish / beef / pork / chicken for 1 meal, maybe 2 if you can tolerate reheated meal. Doesn't work in my house for beef or fish

4. I buy hummus in smaller containers from costco: probably 16 containers of 2 oz each. Keeps longer

Tough problem, you have my simpathy.

No processed foods, minimal frozen foods at my house. We have simple meals: Typically something like Salad, vegetable (steamed or BBQ'd), and fish/chicken/beef BBQ'd for dinner. Nothing complicated.
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Ninnie
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Ninnie » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:19 pm

It shouldn't be so hard to downsize your recipes down to three servings, otherwise freeze the leftovers.

jebmke
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by jebmke » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:22 pm

Getting proteins in single serving size shouldn't be a problem. Butcher or fishmonger should be willing to cut a piece to any size you want. Don't be shy - tell them how many ounces you want and they can usually get real close by eye.

Except for fish, we (cooking for two isn't a lot different than one) often have some left over. Two 6-7 ounce beef filets will go for two meals. Steak on the grill one night - I cook them both at once then we will split one for dinner. Cold steak salad a few nights later. One filet for one person would work the same way.
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livesoft
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by livesoft » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:29 pm

You can make a variety of salads and put them in the fridge. The salads can be mostly the same, but can be "topped" with leftovers from a restaurant change the variety. The trick is to eat your leftovers the next day and not wait.

Example:

Sunday: Make salads. Have one for lunch say with a hard-boiled egg for protein.
Sunday dinner: Salmon with asparagus or green beans or broccoli and microwave one ear of corn. A little bit of quinoa or rice if you like. Only buy enough salmon for two meals.

Monday: Salad for lunch, but heat up rest of salmon in microwave and put on top of salad.
Monday dinner: Take-out Chinese/Thai. Buy one single dish for $8, but eat half or less of it.

Tuesday lunch: Salad with microwaved leftover Chinese.
Tuesday dinner: Go out for Mexican. Eat one-third to one-half of the meal, bring home una caja.

Wednesday lunch: Eat Mexican leftovers.
Dinner: Take-out pizza. Eat 2 slices.

Thursday lunch: Salad with rest of Mexican leftovers or maybe Greek yogurt.
Thursday dinner: Rest of pizza slices

Friday lunch: Salad with hummus or a sushi combo takeout
Friday dinner: Rotisserie chicken plus an ear of corn and another vegetable. Got any leftover rice from take-out Chinese?

Saturday lunch: Salad with leftover rotisserie chicken
Saturday dinner: Go out with friends maybe Japanese?

All breakfasts are oatmeal as described in numerous threads on the bogleheads.org forum.

Note: No frozen food was used at all. No need to freeze anything. No soups. Only fresh vegetables every day. Instead of salmon, one could cook a roast or boneless chicken breasts and use the leftovers as salad toppings. Also one only cooks one night per week: Sunday. :)
Last edited by livesoft on Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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navyasw02
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by navyasw02 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:32 pm

One of my friends swears by Blue Apron. Everything arrives with the exact serving amounts you need to make it yourself without endless leftovers

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dm200
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by dm200 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:37 pm

I have moved quite a bit towards "whole food plant based" eating, much of the time for "one" (me). Breakfast - oatmeal. I bake a white potato - and keep in refrigerator to eat over 3 days. Same for sweet potato. Alternate white and sweet. No prepared desserts. Fruit - lots of it. Mke a bean/tomato/onions combo, eat 1/3 and refrigerate 2/3 for 2 successive days' meals. Eat celery, baby carrots, green pepper, salad greens, etc. Uneaten parts last 3-5 days in refrigerator. if eat canned vegetables, eat 1/2 and refrigerate 1/2 for next day. Frozen vegetables - cook only what I eat at that meal. In this "plan", I eat a lot of very healthful food and very little is ever thrown out or wasted.

livesoft
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by livesoft » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:42 pm

My individual home-made salads stored in tightly sealed plastic containers (like glad-ware, but actually old cookie-dough containers) last 2 weeks in the fridge. I don't cut the Roma tomato until just before I eat the salad, though the tomato is put in the container when the salads are made en masse on Sunday. One could use cherry or grape tomatoes if one did not want to have to cut anything, but at higher expense.
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black jack
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by black jack » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:48 pm

Do you have a Costco or similar nearby?

I love their frozen salmon fillets; those and other frozen foods are typically individually packaged, so easy to cook one at a time.

Frozen vegetables are fresher than fresh and you don't have to worry about spoilage, just cook as much or little as you want each day.

Some good quality prepared foods in their refrigerated aisles; I'm enjoying their quiches these days. These last several days in your fridge, so you don't have to eat the same thing three meals in a row to finish it off before it goes bad.

Fruits and nuts in large quantities for snacks; also yogurt (make your own if you feel commercial varieties are over-processed).

Take advantage of those American-sized portions when eating out: I eat a portion of my dishes, bring the rest home, make some more rice for Chinese or Indian leftovers, and get another couple of meals out of the leftovers without having to cook anything myself.
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Aug 28, 2016 5:11 pm

Learn to love leftovers, but space it out a bit by investing in good freezer dishes to save the leftovers. Don't eat the same thing for 4 nights; freeze the leftovers in a way you can conveniently re-heat them later.

I have a whole set of different sizes of Pyrex dishes for freezing leftovers, so I can package them up as dinner portions or lunch portions. Then I can cook new things on the nights I'm not at work until 7pm and freeze the leftovers. On the nights I am at work until 7pm (or later), I can pop something out of the freezer and into the microwave when I get home.

For example, I'll cook up a pot of chicken cacciatore that serves 4. I'll eat one then freeze the other 3 to eat once or twice a week over the next several weeks. Soup on the other hand might get portioned up into lunch and dinner sizes, as I really like soups for lunch even during summer.

On really busy weeks when I can't cook at all, I go to Trader Joe's and get a package of pre-cooked Just Chicken. I can use it with rice for lunch, with rice and veggies as a stir-fry dinner, as a pasta topper, and so on. I also like Trader Joe's pre-cooked rosemary chicken and chicken fajita mix.

TresBelle65
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by TresBelle65 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 5:30 pm

Thank you for some creative ideas. I will likely increase the take out and use those for leftovers. My apartment freezer is tiny and I won't be here long enough to invest in an additional freezer.

None of the stores here will sell or package small portions of meat - I have tried. They are all family size packages at the meat counter. I will seek out more frozen foods in individual portions.

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dm200
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by dm200 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:20 pm

TresBelle65 wrote:Thank you for some creative ideas. I will likely increase the take out and use those for leftovers. My apartment freezer is tiny and I won't be here long enough to invest in an additional freezer.
None of the stores here will sell or package small portions of meat - I have tried. They are all family size packages at the meat counter. I will seek out more frozen foods in individual portions.
When I ate more meat, I would slice up chicken into pieces and freeze the pieces (good for 1-2 meals) in ZipLock bags. It did not take much freezer space. Now, I have pretty much stopped eating meat (makes things simpler).

I think there are some small freezers you can get that would be "portable" enough to take with you when you move.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Caduceus » Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:26 pm

I no longer cook, but when I had to cook for just myself in graduate school, here are some things that worked:

- huge pots of curries (meat and potatoes, or veggies and potatoes). Curries are great because they are one of the leftover foods that actually taste even better as leftovers, because the meat and potatoes stew in the spices. I also find most people, including myself, don't tire of spicy food as quickly, so you can probably eat it for more meals than you'd think. I'd usually cook a curry in a big pot that lasted 4 meals. Also, when you re-heat curries, they don't just dry out like some other foods.

- vary the sauces. I would usually buy whatever seafood was on sale and just vary the sauces. So salmon in a lemon-based cream sauce for lunch, and then grilled salmon in bbq sauce for dinner, etc.

- Greek yogurt with fruit - healthy and filling. You can vary the fruit so it doesn't get boring.

- buy proper containers for storage in the fridge. I liked those flat Pyrex ones with microvable lids.

My biggest problem was vegetables. I ended up throwing a lot of it away when cooking for one. They turned bad before I could finish them all.

livesoft
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by livesoft » Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:49 pm

Caduceus wrote:My biggest problem was vegetables. I ended up throwing a lot of it away when cooking for one. They turned bad before I could finish them all.
That's a shopping problem and not a cooking problem. Do not be fooled into buying more than one will cook and eat even if they are on sale unless you know the veggies will keep (like corn on the cob). Most raw veggies are sold by weight, so don't buy so much weight:

snow peas (great raw in salads)
snap peas (great raw in salads)
green beans
broccoli
carrots
fresh baby spinach and salad greens
tomatoes
a chili here and there
a single clove of garlic
a small onion

loose mushrooms (buy 1, 2, or 3 and not the 1 pound containers)
corn-on-the-cob (buy 1 or 2)
One can buy a frozen bag of edamame and use one-meal portions.

I don't buy potatoes nor peas.
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blueblock
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by blueblock » Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:32 pm

My wonderful partner introduced me to "kitchen management skills." Example: you roasted a chicken? Into the freezer the carcass goes, marked "stock." When you have enough bones, simmer them in a big pot of water overnight, with an onion, celery and carrots, maybe a stem of fresh thyme, and voila! Chicken stock! We freeze them in small 2-cup tubs, superb for rice pilaf or any dish where "just water" will improve the flavor. (If you use Parmesan, save the rinds and throw them into the stock pot.)

Similarly, if bread or buns are threatening to go moldy, process them to bread crumbs and freeze, to use for breading fish or pork chops, or make herbed croutons for a side salad.

Menus are great, but always allow for a "refrigerator rummage" to make use of leftovers. This is where a stocked pantry comes in handy, so you have the ingredients you need to make something yummy (e.g. canned tomatoes, coconut milk, etc.).

When you bring in fresh ingredients for a recipe, plan to use the leftovers. Example: I like celery in chicken chop suey, but that leaves a lot of celery. Braise it for a dinner side dish, or make a cream of celery soup, to be served for lunch with buttered sourdough toast.

Another way of saying all this is: buy what you need but plan to use EVERYTHING.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by DiamondplateDave » Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:37 pm

I have much the same problem. I found making a big tossed salad didn't work, one or more components spoiled quickly. However, keeping the ingredients separate in tupperware and making the salad when I wanted to eat worked well. The salad I just finished contained Spring Mix (greens are better than iceberg lettuce), grape tomatoes, onion, red yellow and green peppers, shredded carrots, portabello mushrooms, and shredded cheese. I also added some croutons, and some flax meal for fiber and nutrients. I keep several types of salad dressing in the fridge, and some frozen chicken breast strips to add if I want a meal. Black olives and chick peas also are filling. Chick peas have a short useful life once opened. Oh, I get a big 8 oz bag of real bacon bits and throw bacon in my salad more often than I should.

I found it's true that mushrooms store better in a brown paper bag. I'm also looking into a special container people claim will make greens last longer. My tolerance for throwing food away is almost nil, so I probably eat things some people would pass on.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by rgs92 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:55 pm

Try to eat some broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage and an apple and some blueberries every day.
Also every day:
some nuts like walnuts/pecans, an apple, some carrots or a sweet potato, some fish, and some yogurt, whole grain something (bread or other), some olive oil, some hummus, some tomato product of some sort.
That should keep you busy enough. And even if you buy small quantities or premium versions of all this, it won't break the bank.
Also have some coffee or tea and some wine.

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patriciamgr2
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by patriciamgr2 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 9:48 pm

1. Eggs, organic tinned beans & wild-caught, sustainable tinned or pouched fish (tuna, salmon, etc--I get mine from Vital Choice, but as part of my frozen order; maybe Whole Foods or something comparable via Amazon would work for you???) all seem like good choices to add to fresh veggies. Make a small pot of whole grain something (eg quinoa) at start of week & store portions in air-tight containers (I use sealed plastic bags inside containers with lids) in coldest part of your frig. Flavor the grains differently after cooking so each container tastes different.

2. If you absolutely don't have a live person as a butcher or fish counter employee working at any store near you [?? that's brutal/most grocery stores do have them] to wrap a single portion of poultry or fish, buy the smallest package of shrimp or fish you can find. Cut it into portions & cook all at once, but use different seasonings & do the air-tight storage in coldest part of frig routine (with a previously-frozen ice pack nestled against the packages if possible). You could keep cooked food at least 2 days IMO--so that's 4 meals' worth. Vary veggies & seasonings so it doesn't taste the same.

3. Order extra protein when you do take out--I usually buy some extra broiled chicken breasts from one restaurant. Or pay for double meat on a sandwich, which you save to top a salad. With your prepared grains & veggies,the extra protein yields a few easy meals. I always serve leftover Asian food over steamed veggies. In addition to lots of spices**, you may need to buy a few prepared sauces to keep in your frig to make 1, 2 & 3 above work.

4. If you have friends in similar situation who live nearby, start a meal swap. Each of 4 people cooks meal for 4, wraps 3 portions securely & the group meets 1 day per week to swap frig-ready containers & reheating instructions. I did a soup swap (in lieu of the notoriously fattening cookie swap) one holiday season & it was great. I did have access to a refrigerator with a freezer, however. You might need a smaller group so you won't be keeping food too long in the frig. If a prepared meal swap won't work, ask if someone will share the cost of a package of uncooked fish, etc. 1x per week.

**Penzeys.com has great values on mail order spice combo's if your local selection is lacking. [added by edit]

Good Luck!
Last edited by patriciamgr2 on Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

mhalley
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by mhalley » Sun Aug 28, 2016 10:21 pm


Ari
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Ari » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:03 am

So my diet consist largely of Huel (HUman fuEL). There's an American variant called Soylent. It's everything your body needs in a tasty shake. It's not a meal replacement, it's a meal, and it's probably the healthiest thing you can put in your body. It's also super convenient, really good for the environment, saves you time and money in cooking and going to the store, limits your waste and makes it super easy to know how many calories you're getting.

For a lot of people, all these advantages mean nothing, because they absolutely need to chew for some reason, but for some of us, it's a cheap, convenient and healthy food. :beer
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saltycaper
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by saltycaper » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:53 am

"Processed" food has gotten a whole lot healthier, and there are lots of options for flexible serving sizes. Frozen vegetable + grain of choice + chicken or fish from freeze aisle allows for precise portion control, offers a variety of options and combinations, and need not include anything that makes it "unhealthy". Maybe some beans, hummus, Greek yogurt, a little cheese, nuts, seeds, or olives. To further spice it up, fresh or dried herbs, or sometimes something from the marinades/sauces aisle (there are options with few or no additives). Accouterments galore await you. I focus more on what not to eat rather than fuss over what I must eat.
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Ari » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:30 am

saltycaper wrote:"Processed" food has gotten a whole lot healthier, and there are lots of options for flexible serving sizes. Frozen vegetable + grain of choice + chicken or fish from freeze aisle allows for precise portion control, offers a variety of options and combinations, and need not include anything that makes it "unhealthy".
Yeah, frozen veggies are in general healthier than "fresh" ones, since they retain more of their nutrients.
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dm200
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by dm200 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 8:41 am

Of course, depending on your situation, try match.com and eat for two :)

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patriciamgr2
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by patriciamgr2 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 8:59 am

I am a fan of frozen veggies too, but OP mentioned "tiny" freezer. While I use tinned or pouch-wrapped protein, & beans (if rinsed), I don't use a lot of tinned veggies.

Da5id
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Da5id » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:02 am

One thought is to make things look different so they aren't as tedious. e.g. cook some chicken breasts however you like them and eat with side dishes. Have them cold (or warm) on a salad the second day. Put them inside wraps/burritos on the third day. You can also freeze individually wrapped chicken breasts and just cook one day's supply...

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by leftcoaster » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:11 am

Others have mentioned freezing portions. I'd like to add that a Food Saver can be a useful tool as well.

First, you can cut up fish, chicken, meat and seal it for longer conservation in the fridge or freezer (no freezer burn).

Second, you can get a jar lid attachment and vacuum seal mason jars. This is mostly useful if you make a big batch of salad on, say, Sunday and pack it into mason jars for the week ahead. Vacuum sealed they will all last just fine. Leave out tomatoes, however, as they are not good after refrigeration.

Steel cut oats can also be made in bulk and then saved in portions.

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Youngblood
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Youngblood » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:01 am

My wife (she does all the cooking) and I have had similar discussions since we were empty nesters. On reading the previous posts I will just list the items that have worked for us admitting there are still days when the only solution seems to be another day of cooking and cleaning.

Breakfast no problem since mostly just coffee and a slice of bread, 1/2 bagel or sometimes for me only coffee.

Lunch again no problem because usually one of the following: leftovers, a sandwich, soup, Greek yogurt, salad and if not filling enough several ounces of nuts.

Dinner we go out to Golden Corral and order pizza once a week. So, right now, my wife still cooks five times a week. I keep telling her to make extra portions so that we can eat meals from frozen leftovers at least two tiLmes a week but she really doesn't like eating leftovers.

She tells me like the OP said for one, that cooking for only two is hard.

Livesoft, in regards to your suggestion about eating two pieces of pizza for dinner, seriously? We order two large pizzas I eat one and my wife eats four or five pieces. I am 5'10" and 150 lb ecto/mesomorph and wife is not overweight either.

YB
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livesoft
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by livesoft » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:21 am

Youngblood wrote:Livesoft, in regards to your suggestion about eating two pieces of pizza for dinner, seriously? We order two large pizzas I eat one and my wife eats four or five pieces. I am 5'10" and 150 lb ecto/mesomorph and wife is not overweight either.

YB
Yes, seriously, I am taller than you and weigh less. :) I could eat a whole pie, but I don't have to.

Perhaps I have more self control as I used to work more than 40 hours a week in a pizza place.

Reminder: The thread title has "Eating Healthy" in it and not "Stuffing one's face" :)
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Caduceus
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Caduceus » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:41 am

livesoft wrote:
Caduceus wrote:My biggest problem was vegetables. I ended up throwing a lot of it away when cooking for one. They turned bad before I could finish them all.
That's a shopping problem and not a cooking problem. Do not be fooled into buying more than one will cook and eat even if they are on sale unless you know the veggies will keep (like corn on the cob). Most raw veggies are sold by weight, so don't buy so much weight:
Well, actually, it was a willpower problem. I was consciously trying to significantly increase my intake of vegetables, so I would buy the amount that I should eat, look at it in the fridge, and go "OK, I'll cook it for the next meal." Also, while in graduate school, I gave up owning a car to keep up a high savings rate, so I ended up shopping for groceries only once every two weeks when I'd pay for a rental car for half the day and get all my errands done. I remember trying to hit 10 places in 6 hours and thinking this was what it felt like to be in the Amazing Race. The downside was it was hard to get fresh veggies that would stay fresh for two weeks.

investor1
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by investor1 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:51 am

What size is your freezer? Is it large enough to store those family sized packages of meat if you repackage them into single servings? If so, buy a vacuum sealer and do that.

Are you sure you can't buy meat cut to order at your butcher's counter? Maybe I need to get out more, but all of my local stores will do this. I can walk up and ask for, say two chicken breasts, and they'll give it to me.

I assume meat is your main problem given what you posted. Is there something else? It seems fairly easy to buy fruit, veggies, berries, and pantry items for one, but maybe that is different where you live as well.

killjoy2012
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by killjoy2012 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:04 am

I think some of you guys are overlooking the time 'cost'. Cooking fresh (nuking frozen meals doesn't count) for 1 often makes little sense with regards to time spent vs. value/effect. Sure, you can cook 3-4 portions at once and freeze/refrigerate the remainder for future meals, but as the OP has already found out, that gets old/mundane quick. It's also hard to find a couple hours a week to allocate to cooking, at least for professionals working 50 hour weeks, commuting, etc. as all of the other household chores and to-dos need to be handled by that same person. Some fresh fruit & veggies are also problematic since even the smallest quantity sold at the grocery store usually cannot be eaten before they go bad. I refuse to buy fresh strawberries, raspberries, etc.

OP - If you have the free time, you could subscribe to one of those pre-packaged meals that you need to prepare. But if you're still working & commuting like me, with an absolutely crazy schedule, that isn't practical probably half the nights of the week.

I have nice grocery store by me that chops fresh salads to order while you wait for a very reasonable cost. I find that much more practical -- buy a large green salad there and eat half for dinner one night, the other half for lunch or dinner the next day. It's fresh, but also quick and easy. They also sell grilled salmon and other prepared meals there, and I often browse their clearance section for discounted meals for that night, etc. I can often do that for the same price or cheaper than buying the raw ingredients myself and cooking.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by stoptothink » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:08 am

killjoy2012 wrote:I think some of you guys are overlooking the time 'cost'. Cooking fresh (nuking frozen meals doesn't count) for 1 often makes little sense with regards to time spent vs. value/effect. Sure, you can cook 3-4 portions at once and freeze/refrigerate the remainder for future meals, but as the OP has already found out, that gets old/mundane quick. It's also hard to find a couple hours a week to allocate to cooking, at least for professionals working 50 hour weeks, commuting, etc. as all of the other household chores and to-dos need to be handled by that same person. Some fresh fruit & veggies are also problematic since even the smallest quantity sold at the grocery store usually cannot be eaten before they go bad. I refuse to buy fresh strawberries, raspberries, etc.

OP - If you have the free time, you could subscribe to one of those pre-packaged meals that you need to prepare. But if you're still working & commuting like me, with an absolutely crazy schedule, that isn't practical probably half the nights of the week.

I have nice grocery store by me that chops fresh salads to order while you wait for a very reasonable cost. I find that much more practical -- buy a large green salad there and eat half for dinner one night, the other half for lunch or dinner the next day. It's fresh, but also quick and easy. They also sell grilled salmon and other prepared meals there, and I often browse their clearance section for discounted meals for that night, etc. I can often do that for the same price or cheaper than buying the raw ingredients myself and cooking.
Going to the store every other day for a prepared salad is less of a "time cost" than making larger portions at home?

Caduceus
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Caduceus » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:12 am

It just occurred to me that it probably matters whether OP is a good cook. I'm not a good cook, so the difference between even bad takeout and homecooked food is, well, significant :D

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by investor1 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:28 am

killjoy2012 wrote:I think some of you guys are overlooking the time 'cost'. Cooking fresh (nuking frozen meals doesn't count) for 1 often makes little sense with regards to time spent vs. value/effect. Sure, you can cook 3-4 portions at once and freeze/refrigerate the remainder for future meals, but as the OP has already found out, that gets old/mundane quick. It's also hard to find a couple hours a week to allocate to cooking, at least for professionals working 50 hour weeks, commuting, etc. as all of the other household chores and to-dos need to be handled by that same person. Some fresh fruit & veggies are also problematic since even the smallest quantity sold at the grocery store usually cannot be eaten before they go bad. I refuse to buy fresh strawberries, raspberries, etc.

OP - If you have the free time, you could subscribe to one of those pre-packaged meals that you need to prepare. But if you're still working & commuting like me, with an absolutely crazy schedule, that isn't practical probably half the nights of the week.

I have nice grocery store by me that chops fresh salads to order while you wait for a very reasonable cost. I find that much more practical -- buy a large green salad there and eat half for dinner one night, the other half for lunch or dinner the next day. It's fresh, but also quick and easy. They also sell grilled salmon and other prepared meals there, and I often browse their clearance section for discounted meals for that night, etc. I can often do that for the same price or cheaper than buying the raw ingredients myself and cooking.
It isn't hard to cook fresh meals for one. I've been doing it for a decade.

You can meal prep some base side for the week such as whatever mix of rice, quinoa, beans, lentils, potatoes, etc. you would like. That takes maybe 30-45 minutes out of your week depending on how many of those you want. From there, all you need to do is cut up some veggies, season some meat, and throw it all into a hot pan on the stove and you have a meal. I do this nearly everyday. Between, prep time, cook time, and cleanup time, it takes 15-20 minutes. You can reduce that if you clean things as you are cooking. It is nice to sit down to a freshly cooked and healthy meal.

I've yet to find fresh produce that goes bad within 5-7 days if stored properly. Pick out good stuff at the store, store it properly, and actually use it tends to be a winning formula. If I get lazy and don't use it, I put it in a ziploc freezer bag in my freezer and make a veggie stock when the bag gets full. Maybe you guys have different grocery stores than I do, but I can typically buy any fruit or veggie in any quantity I want.

Berries make for a great healthy snack and tastes great on top of a warm bowl of oatmeal if you have any interest in bringing berries back into your diet. When I'm busy, a common breakfast for me to grab on my way out the door is a handful of berries and a handful of nuts (also a great snack).

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by stoptothink » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:49 am

investor1 wrote:
killjoy2012 wrote:I think some of you guys are overlooking the time 'cost'. Cooking fresh (nuking frozen meals doesn't count) for 1 often makes little sense with regards to time spent vs. value/effect. Sure, you can cook 3-4 portions at once and freeze/refrigerate the remainder for future meals, but as the OP has already found out, that gets old/mundane quick. It's also hard to find a couple hours a week to allocate to cooking, at least for professionals working 50 hour weeks, commuting, etc. as all of the other household chores and to-dos need to be handled by that same person. Some fresh fruit & veggies are also problematic since even the smallest quantity sold at the grocery store usually cannot be eaten before they go bad. I refuse to buy fresh strawberries, raspberries, etc.

OP - If you have the free time, you could subscribe to one of those pre-packaged meals that you need to prepare. But if you're still working & commuting like me, with an absolutely crazy schedule, that isn't practical probably half the nights of the week.

I have nice grocery store by me that chops fresh salads to order while you wait for a very reasonable cost. I find that much more practical -- buy a large green salad there and eat half for dinner one night, the other half for lunch or dinner the next day. It's fresh, but also quick and easy. They also sell grilled salmon and other prepared meals there, and I often browse their clearance section for discounted meals for that night, etc. I can often do that for the same price or cheaper than buying the raw ingredients myself and cooking.
It isn't hard to cook fresh meals for one. I've been doing it for a decade.

You can meal prep some base side for the week such as whatever mix of rice, quinoa, beans, lentils, potatoes, etc. you would like. That takes maybe 30-45 minutes out of your week depending on how many of those you want. From there, all you need to do is cut up some veggies, season some meat, and throw it all into a hot pan on the stove and you have a meal. I do this nearly everyday. Between, prep time, cook time, and cleanup time, it takes 15-20 minutes. You can reduce that if you clean things as you are cooking. It is nice to sit down to a freshly cooked and healthy meal.

I've yet to find fresh produce that goes bad within 5-7 days if stored properly. Pick out good stuff at the store, store it properly, and actually use it tends to be a winning formula. If I get lazy and don't use it, I put it in a ziploc freezer bag in my freezer and make a veggie stock when the bag gets full. Maybe you guys have different grocery stores than I do, but I can typically buy any fruit or veggie in any quantity I want.

Berries make for a great healthy snack and tastes great on top of a warm bowl of oatmeal if you have any interest in bringing berries back into your diet. When I'm busy, a common breakfast for me to grab on my way out the door is a handful of berries and a handful of nuts (also a great snack).
Currently it is for a family of 4 (wife, two young kids), but 90% of our food is prepped for the entire week on Sunday afternoon in a few hours (at most) and put into tupperware containers. Prior to be being married, I did the exact same thing for myself for a decade. Primary reason is health, but it is also dramatically cheaper, and it is also a significant time savings once you have your own system down. All the effort is in the initial planning. Like you, I've never encountered produce that goes bad within a week if stored properly. This isn't much help for those who value variety in their diet, but it is great for us.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Epsilon Delta » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:22 pm

I find I'm more likely to cook things if the tools are at hand.

If you have a dishwasher it can save prep and cleanup time if you have multiples of commonly used tools. Things like
  • Cutting board
  • Dishwasher safe ceramic 4 inch knife
  • 2 quart colander
  • Cooking spoons, spatulas etc.
  • Silicone hot pad
  • Bread knife
  • Glass bowl for microwaving Brussels sprouts
  • Ten inch non-stick fry pan
  • Cones for the coffee maker
You're exact list will vary, but when you find you need to grab something out of the dishwasher to hand wash it before prepping a meal, buy another one.

This is particularly useful for prepping fruits and veggies as the tools don't get "dirty" but should be sanitized before reuse, so a dishwasher does a great job even if you let them sit for a week. It also fills up the dishwasher, so you can also use it for plates and such you would otherwise wash by hand because the dishwasher holds a month's worth.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Youngblood » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:48 pm

livesoft wrote:
Youngblood wrote:Livesoft, in regards to your suggestion about eating two pieces of pizza for dinner, seriously? We order two large pizzas I eat one and my wife eats four or five pieces. I am 5'10" and 150 lb ecto/mesomorph and wife is not overweight either.

YB
Yes, seriously, I am taller than you and weigh less. :) I could eat a whole pie, but I don't have to.

Perhaps I have more self control as I used to work more than 40 hours a week in a pizza place.

Reminder: The thread title has "Eating Healthy" in it and not "Stuffing one's face" :)
Thanks for the laugh, it was greatly appreciated! It must be hard for you to find pants that fit because honestly 30w can be hard to find and if you are less... :sharebeer
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Mudpuppy » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:55 pm

Caduceus wrote:
livesoft wrote:
Caduceus wrote:My biggest problem was vegetables. I ended up throwing a lot of it away when cooking for one. They turned bad before I could finish them all.
That's a shopping problem and not a cooking problem. Do not be fooled into buying more than one will cook and eat even if they are on sale unless you know the veggies will keep (like corn on the cob). Most raw veggies are sold by weight, so don't buy so much weight:
Well, actually, it was a willpower problem. I was consciously trying to significantly increase my intake of vegetables, so I would buy the amount that I should eat, look at it in the fridge, and go "OK, I'll cook it for the next meal." Also, while in graduate school, I gave up owning a car to keep up a high savings rate, so I ended up shopping for groceries only once every two weeks when I'd pay for a rental car for half the day and get all my errands done. I remember trying to hit 10 places in 6 hours and thinking this was what it felt like to be in the Amazing Race. The downside was it was hard to get fresh veggies that would stay fresh for two weeks.
Get frozen veggies. Even with a small freezer, you should have space for frozen veggies. This solves both the "how to get food that lasts between shopping trips" and "how not to purchase too much so it doesn't go to waste" problems. As mentioned up-thread, since frozen veggies are frozen soon after being picked, they actually can have more nutrients than the fresh veggies which have been traveling for miles and days on a produce truck to make it to the supermarket. And they last a lot longer too.
Caduceus wrote:It just occurred to me that it probably matters whether OP is a good cook. I'm not a good cook, so the difference between even bad takeout and homecooked food is, well, significant :D
Now, being able to cook those veggies is another issue. Start simple and if you're still having issues, see if there's a class at a community college or local restaurant you can take. It's a lot more common in larger cities these days to have basic cooking classes for those with no cooking skills, particularly for people wanting to learn how to cook and eat healthy.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by investor1 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:16 pm

I thought frozen veggies had a bunch of preservatives added to them. Best case scenario seems like you'd be adding a bunch of salt to your diet which is already in a bunch of stuff. It would seem to me to be something to generally avoid if you are looking for a whole foods / minimally processed diet.

I mean, you could do worse, but you can certainly do better.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by stoptothink » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:18 pm

investor1 wrote:I thought frozen veggies had a bunch of preservatives added to them.
What do they need preservatives for? Flash freezing preserves frozen vegetables so they are generally more "fresh" than "fresh produce".

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Bengineer » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:41 pm

TresBelle65 wrote: ... I seem to be tossing out/wasting a lot of food. I find it nearly impossible to make a recipe that serves less than 4 - and after 3 days of the same thing, I don't want to look at it any more. ...
I eat a mostly whole foods diet - do not like processed food much.
All suggestions appreciated.
I'll just speak to the above. We're just two and like to cook fresh from mostly whole/unprocessed foods. I try to look for "cook once, eat many" opportunities. The usual beans, chili, braised meat, salads (undressed) come to mind.

o Make a 4 serving meal one night, fridge one, freeze two. Do the same the next night. leftovers the third and so on.

o Think multiple uses - marinara over pasta one night, a little sauce warmed up under some poached eggs for breakfast. Grilled chicken breast one night, sandwiches the next day.

o Keep your basic pantry stocked - spices, garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, lemons, canned tomatoes/sauce/paste canned or dried beans, flour, etc. last for weeks and then market for green veggies, bread, fresh protein and the other perishables more often.

o A little herb garden will bring fresh herbs to the party, kicking everything up a notch.

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Mudpuppy » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:51 pm

investor1 wrote:I thought frozen veggies had a bunch of preservatives added to them. Best case scenario seems like you'd be adding a bunch of salt to your diet which is already in a bunch of stuff. It would seem to me to be something to generally avoid if you are looking for a whole foods / minimally processed diet.

I mean, you could do worse, but you can certainly do better.
Canned veggies have salt and also lose nutrients due to the pasteurization process (long-term exposure to heat does not do good things for nutrients). There are no preservatives involved in frozen veggies... the freezing itself is the preservative. Also, to prepare veggies for freezing, they are often just blanched to sterilize, which is far less heat exposure than canned veggies get. Frozen veggies are also flash frozen using a methodology far quicker than one could freeze store-bought veggies in one's own freezer. Freezing quickly minimizes interior ice crystal formation, minimizing damage done in the freezing process.

And unless you're getting your veggies from your own veggie patch or from the farmer's market (or similar programs to go farm->home bypassing stores), the standard supermarket veggie was picked at least a few days ago, if not a week ago.

But don't just believe me, read these articles:
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/featu ... es-are-hot
University of Georgia study: http://onlineathens.com/health/2013-12- ... ozen-fresh
ABC News/Health.com: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/reasons-bu ... d=20683879

And if you want to read a full study on some nutrients, here's the first part of a UC Davis study: http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/234-779.pdf

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by harikaried » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:54 pm

Ari wrote:There's an American variant called Soylent. It's everything your body needs in a tasty shake. It's not a meal replacement, it's a meal, and it's probably the healthiest thing you can put in your body.
If you would also be drinking a cup of coffee for caffeine, you could get Coffiest from Soylent.

https://www.soylent.com/product/coffiest/

About $3 for a coffee and a meal with no preparation time.

(Although I would caution that because this is a balanced meal, it doesn't have unnecessary sugars that meal replacements usually have, so the "coffee" is "black" with a hint of chocolate flavor.)

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Atilla » Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:09 pm

I try to eat fish for lunch during the week.

Individually frozen salmon, tuna and mahi mahi are easy to find. Thaw a piece out and saute in olive oil with blackened fish seasonings. Take the fish out and throw in sliced onion and a big handful of dark greens like arugula or spinach. Cook just until wilted. Add some salt and pepper to the greens and you are good to go.

Breakfast - I get big tubs of plain Greek yogurt and bags of generic unsweetened frozen sliced berries like strawberries and blackberries. Scoop a cup of yogurt into a bowl and throw a bunch of frozen berries on top.
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by livesoft » Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:28 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:Freezing quickly minimizes interior ice crystal formation, minimizing damage done in the freezing process.
Damage done in the freezing process? I'll agree that interior ice crystal formation causes expansion and can break cell walls and organelles, but so what? This would just make the nutrients more available to the person who ate the frozen veggies. That is, a few freeze/thaw cycles would be somewhat like mastication and perhaps better. I am happy to discuss the biochemistry and chemistry of what's going on in the process. :)

Now if one is worried about taste and mouth-feel, then those are other properties to discuss.

One reason to damage cook food is that such a process can make more nutrients available to be eventually absorbed by the eater.
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by Caduceus » Mon Aug 29, 2016 7:03 pm

livesoft wrote: Damage done in the freezing process? ... This would just make the nutrients more available to the person who ate the frozen veggies. That is, a few freeze/thaw cycles would be somewhat like mastication and perhaps better. I am happy to discuss the biochemistry and chemistry of what's going on in the process. :)

Now if one is worried about taste and mouth-feel, then those are other properties to discuss.

One reason to damage cook food is that such a process can make more nutrients available to be eventually absorbed by the eater.
OK, I'll bite. Why do people say that it's better to eat raw fruits than drink fruit juices or fruit smoothies then? If you mash up the fruits (like crushing garlic to release the enzymes), and don't add any nasty stuff like sugar, wouldn't it be better?

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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by livesoft » Mon Aug 29, 2016 7:50 pm

Caduceus wrote:OK, I'll bite. Why do people say that it's better to eat raw fruits than drink fruit juices or fruit smoothies then? If you mash up the fruits (like crushing garlic to release the enzymes), and don't add any nasty stuff like sugar, wouldn't it be better?
I like the pun. :)

I don't know why people say what they say. Many people have no idea what the science is and that includes scientists and nutritionists. It could simply be a case of "if it sounds good, then it must be true."

But consider this: If one makes a smoothie and homogenizes all the cells in the ingredients, then enzymes that break down different molecules will come into contact with those molecules and start to break them down. But perhaps one usually drinks the smoothie as soon as it is made, so I would think the difference with eating the raw ingredients before they went into the blender would be minimal. If one could flash freeze the smoothie, then the molecules would be frozen in place and not really move around much and thus not come into contact with the released enzymes which are also frozen in place.

OTOH, the digestive enzymes in one's stomach and intestinal tract will metabolize many large molecules into smaller ones anyways since not all molecules can be transported into the blood. Furthermore, if the food doesn't spend any time in the intestinal tract (say because of vomiting or diarrhea), then less of the nutrients will be absorbed.
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Re: Eating Healthy/Meals for One

Post by dm200 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:57 pm

1. As far as I know, there are no preservatives used in frozen vegetables. I even recall 60+ years ago, that my mother would prepare vegetables for the then new "deep freeze" and would "blanch the vegetables and package them for the freezer.

2. Wild Alaska Salmon Burgers (if you like/eat Salmon) are a good deal from Costco.

3. There are now many kinds of canned vegetables available with low salt or no added salt.

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