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Dining for One

If you eat by yourself most nights, here are ways to make your dinnertime special.

A plate, cleaned of food

— P.L. DiCorcia/Trunk Archive

Equipment Essentials
If you regularly entertain, you'll need a few bigger pieces. Even to cook for yourself, though, you need the right tools.

1 full set of measuring spoons and cups

Cutting boards (for meat, produce, bread)

Heavy-duty knives (chef's knife, paring knife, bread knife)

Nonstick and stainless-steel skillets (small, medium and large)

Small (4-cup) heavy pot with cover

4-quart pot (for pasta, soup, blanching)

Nonstick omelet pan

Collapsible steamer

Instant-read thermometer

2-3 wooden spoons

Metal slotted spoon

Whisk

Tongs

Cheese grater

Colander

Roasting pan

Storage containers with lids

Pantry
Organize a pantry for one. It will give you a base on which to build many meals.

Olive and vegetable oils

Toasted sesame oil

Vinegars (red wine, balsamic, cider)

Dijon mustard

Soy sauce

Mayonnaise

Dry pasta

Grains (couscous, bulgur, quinoa)

Rice

Flour

Polenta

Prepared chicken and beef broth

Jarred pasta sauce

Canned tomato sauce

Tomato paste

Kosher salt

Peppercorns (if you have a grinder)

Dry herbs and spices

Breadcrumbs

Onions

Garlic

Canned beans

Canned fish (sardines, tuna, salmon, anchovies)

Jams

Sugar

Honey

Maple syrup

Unsweetened cocoa powder

Peanut butter

Assorted dried fruits

Refrigerator
Most contents of the refrigerator will frequently be updated. There are some staples that should be maintained.

Eggs

Butter

Milk

Plain yogurt

Orange juice

Cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan)

Fresh herbs

Lemons

Seasonal fruits

Carrots

Scallions

Ginger

Parsley

Celery

Olives

Pickles

Freezer
The freezer is the single diner's best friend. Bulk foods can be divided into smaller portions and frozen. Vegetables can be blanched, then frozen. Nuts freeze well, as does butter. Just be sure everything is labeled and dated. When you add new things, move the older items forward.

Ginger root (makes it easy to grate)

Bacon

Cooked/raw meat in small portions

Frozen shrimp

Frozen vegetables (peas, spinach, edamame, corn)

Frozen fruits (berries, pineapple, mango)

Sausages

Pizza dough

Pesto

Ice cream

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