pizza, quick and easy, pita

I often find myself cooking for one. Sometimes preparing a full meal can seem like such a waste -- of food, time, and money. But if you think that cooking for one means eating the same leftovers for days, here's some good news: with a little planning, you can have plenty of variety and save time in the long run. Two keys to cooking-for-one success: Prepping ahead and freezing.

This approach works surprisingly well with pizza. I'm not talking about a store-bought pre-made crust with a plastic packet of sauce. With a little investment of time, you can make the basics from scratch, freeze them for later, and vary your future meals by using different toppings.

Step 1: Crust. Here's a little secret: Pitas are easier to make than pizza dough. Bake a big batch of the whole-wheat variety, freeze them, and you've got lots of options for quick-and-easy meals. Follow this recipe, and freeze them in a zip-top freezer bag once they have cooled. You can easily pull one out as needed or pop it in themicrowave for 30 seconds if you are really in a hurry. A little investment of time goes a long way: you can invest a couple of hours every now and then to enjoy preservative-freebread on a regular basis! 

Step 2: Sauce. Follow the same basic principle of making a big batch and freezing portions for later use. While the dough is rising, you can get a simple marinara sauce simmering on the stove. When it is done and slightly cooled, pour the sauce into ice cube traysor other small freezable containers.(If you do not already have some, ice cube trays are an inexpensive yet very useful cooking-for-one investment). Once the sauce cubes are frozen, pop them out and store them in a zip-top freezer bag. You can heat up as much or as littleas you need, whenever you need it. And there are many uses for marinara beyond pizza... calzones, lasagna, pasta, sub sandwiches, casseroles, dipping sauce... just to name a few!

Step 3: Toppings. I always keep my pantry and fridge stocked with onions, garlic, dried mushrooms and cheese because I cook with them so often, and they apply perfectly here. Its also great to  have nuts and veggies in the freezer to add to your toppings.  I also recommend freezing meats in smaller portions so you can thaw and cook on an individual basis.  I like to use caramelized onions, toasted walnuts and grilled chicken on my pizzas, and as long as I haven't depleted my cheese stock, I have everything I need at home!