Meal prep for one person - 5 ideas for delicious dinners that use pulled pork as the base
From pasta with a rich pork ragu to healthy rice paper rolls, pulled pork is a great item to batch cook and freeze to have on hand as single serve portions.
Having cooked proteins (e.g. shredded pork, beef or poached chicken) in the freezer speeds up and hugely simplifies making dinner each night. There is less to do and cooking and cleaning up becomes much easier. I'm a convert! Though I have to admit my conversion only came recently and it was by accident.
Up until recently I had only ever batch cooked and frozen fully cooked meals, e.g. soups, casseroles etc. It was only after completely over-catering for my own birthday and being left with huge amounts of slow cooked pork that I learnt how useful it is to cook and freeze individual portions of cooked proteins.
I seriously wondered how an earth I would get through all the pork (there was about 2kg!!) - but I got creative and in honesty found it life changing!
A ready store of cooked protein in the freezer meant that when I couldn't be bothered cooking, all I had to do was pull one of the sachets of pork from the freezer and simply prep some vegetables to create a meal. This is made even easier if you also batch cook and freeze individual portions of carbs or 'fillers' such as rice, barley, lentils, cauliflower rice etc. It provides huge amount of versatility and allows you to create amazing meals in minutes with little washing up. I know some people hate leftovers, or even freezing things - but this approach makes making a healthy, nutritious dinner so quick and easy, that I now try and make sure I always have some sort of cooked meat in the freezer.
By cooking and freezing 'components' vs full meals it is a bit like having mix and match outfits in your wardrobe, e.g. the proteins are tops, the carbs are pants and they can be mixed and matched to make a variety of outfits and then teamed with a variety of shoes, belts and accessories (fresh vegetables, spices & herbs) to marry up with how you feel that particular day. The harder and more time consuming part, e.g. purchasing the tops and pants (cooking the proteins & carbs) has been done - so all you have to do is to concentrate on the more creative, but quicker and easier tasks of whipping up something that suits your mood that day.
Below I show some of the ideas for meals I came up with, and below that some before and after shots. This is to demonstrate how a somewhat motley collection of half used ingredients can end up being a sensational meal.
Pulled pork on bed of red cabbage salad with walnuts, cilantro, and cranberries
Slow cooked pork ragu with salsa and zucchini 'pasta'
Pulled pork lettuce cups - a great dish for summer
Pulled pork rice paper rolls with char sui sauce
How to make dinner for one with pulled pork
One of the things about cooking for one is that you end up with lots of half jars and cans of things, half cut carrots and the like. Unlike opening a new tin or getting out a whole carrot, zucchini etc - you are left to grab a somewhat sad and possibly shrivelled vegetables from the crisper - all of which makes makes cooking for one and using up leftovers even less appealing.
The purpose of the pictures below is to show the before and after - e.g. how what looks to be a somewhat motley set of ingredients can turn into a fabulous dinner for one.
Pulled pork as a basis for a salsa or sauce to go with pasta, rice or quinoa
Pulled pork as the basis for tacos for one
These tacos look a little different as I experimented with raw tacos using linseeds and zucchini. They were delicious, but it would be easy to substitute regular tacos and your favourite Mexican sauce.
Pulled pork as the basis for rice paper rolls
I'd never made rice paper rolls before this - they seemed 'scary'. My need to think of new ways with pork turned into such a good thing. I discovered rice paper rolls are actually easy! And that they are incredibly versatile and make a simple summer dinner.
Warm salad with pulled pork
'Warm salad' really is euphemism for 'whatever I can find at the bottom of the fridge that I can toss together' and call 'Dinner'!!!
The next meal looks almost identical - same colour combination with the red cabbage dominating and the avocado on top. However they were quite different. The top meal has the cabbage warmed through and tossed with a balsamic / mustard / brown sugar dressing. The meal below uses the pulled pork that I pre-mixed with some home made salsa (I also had gallons of that left over from the party!), so I heated that then tossed it with the red cabbage, so the meals were very different flavours, one definitely fresh and summery. The one below bit more comfort-food-y.'
Hopefully this has shown how a bit of time cooking and freezing batches of pork, or any protein can really simplify and speed up making dinner each night.
Cooking the pork is pretty simple and can be done in either a slow cooker or in a roasting tin covered with a lid or foil in the oven. Leave a comment if you would like instructions or a specific recipe. (The one I used was torn from a magazine, but I will hunt down an online version if you are interested.)
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