I think that many of us who do single-serving cooking are likely to live in smaller places, and have less drawer and counter space in the kitchen. With storage space at a premium, we need to consider that when tempted by gadgets and single use items. Before I buy it, or even bring home a freebie, I try to ask myself if I will really use it, and if so, how often. Many times that item gets left right were I originally saw it, I probably don’t even miss it.
I have a lot of cookware of various sorts, but some things are much more useful than others; some things I should give away or send to the Habitat ReStore, or even have a yard sale, since I’ve not used them in ever so long.
I was looking through a drawer the other day and found a couple of yellow plastic thingies that I may never have used–I may have gotten these for attending a Tupperware party in the (very) distant past. I do know that the one on the left is supposed to be an egg separator. The one on the right (especially since it’s a matching color) looks to me like a thingy that could be used to do something with an egg–scoop it out of hot water, or hold eggs when you are dying them (not likely–too broad on the arms), perhaps? (Why use that when I have a slotted spoon?) I think that I may have tried the egg separator once, but usually I either use the shell halves or my hand–why wash a gadget when it’s just not necessary? (I’m a firm believer that hands are meant to do more than hold implements in the kitchen.) I try not to have similar kinds of dishes around, because that really takes up storage space.
Just as I’m supposed to be able to multitask these days, I like multiple use things in my kitchen. I try to stay away from “disposable” items, too. I’ve already mentioned that I use Ball/Mason jars for storage containers for both pantry and refrigerator, and I’ve mentioned the cast-iron grill/griddle (which can double as a broiler pan); there are some basics that see a lot of use in the kitchen almost every day.
My most frequently used baking dishes are not fancy–most were obtained from the hardware store or the grocery store–while doing the every-day activities of keeping house and cooking for one; I did not have to go look for them in specialty stores. I’m sure a kitchen/cooking website like Cooking.com would have these basics as well. I like glass so that I can use them in the gas oven or in the microwave oven–again, space savers.
One of my favorites is a Pyrex rectangular baking dish with lid that I’ve had for ages and ages. Should I ever break it, it will take more to replace it than just a dish and a lid. It’s a small covered baking dish just the right size for about four chicken thighs to roast (on top of the right amount potatoes and/or other root veggies) with a lid which has ridges and a lip on one side (raised and smooth on the other) which works so well for cooking bacon in the microwave because it allows the fat to drain away (no, I don’t cook it on paper towels, though I do use a paper towel to cover it with). The glass lid fits well enough that it can also be used for storing in the refrigerator.
Another favorite is (also Pyrex) narrower baking dish (also with lid) that is just about the right width for single lasagna noodles so that I can have two servings. This one has silicone seal with vents in it so that you don’t have glass-on-glass contact.
Both these are a great size for cooking for one, allowing for some “leftovers” that can be used in other recipes, but not so large that there is too much space for baking or roasting.
I do have a larger and smaller oven-safe dishes (mostly Pyrex) that have plastic covers for storage. Of course, any kitchen must have the usual rectangular and square baking dishes and pans (the “usual” 9×9-inch and the 9×13-inch, but those get used much less frequently.
Another favorite of mine is a large round covered dish (yes, Pyrex) with a multipurpose lid. It has good wide handles on both the base and the lid. The lid has done duty as a pie plate for me several times. It’s a bit bigger than you average pie plate, but it’s got the right slant and approximately the right depth. The lid can also serve as a shallow baking dish.
I do have some Emile Henry bowls and oval baking dishes that see a fair amount of use, but some colored glazes cannot be used in the microwave; the plain glass or the white seem to be the real workhorses in the kitchen: oven, freezer, microwave, and refrigerator for storage.
I also have bowls that have vented plastic lids for use in the microwave so that I don’t have to reach for the plastic film every time I want to nuke something. The vents can be opened for microwave use, and then closed for storage. The plain bowl can do cooking and serving duty which is a real space saver, and a real cleanup help. The white bowl (below left) is also one with a vented lid for microwaving, baking, or refrigerator.
One of the most-used for my single-serving cooking at breakfast time and when soup is on the lunch menu is another with a vented plastic lid that is microwave safe. The cup (right) is just right for cooking single servings of hot cereal in the microwave. The vented lid means no plastic film wrap is needed. Admittedly some mornings I feel like I should use that cup for coffee because it bigger than the average coffee mug.
No matter what you’re cooking, it’s important to have the right size container. In baking or roasting, just as in stove-top cooking, too large and food will dry out; too small, and there’s an oven mess to clean up, or food is too confined and steams rather than roasts. In the microwave the right size and arrangement of food is also important. Cooking that breakfast cereal in a container that is too shallow can leave you with a really nasty mess to clean up–not a good way to start the day.
One of the things that is so important about food is good flavor, no matter if it’s for a crowd, or just a single serving. It always should be a son goût!