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Q&A | with a potato bowl theme

I had a bunch of questions come in about the potato/sausage/veggie bowl I made the other night while Zoe was at work; I often make variations of this type of thing when I’m feeding just me. 🙂

mahsed potato bowl.

So, let’s start with that, and we’ll also squeeze in a few other reader questions.

What kind of sausage did you use in your mashed potato bowl?

mashed potato bowl with sausage and veggies.

Lots of you asked this!

It was just part of a one-pound block of Italian sausage; I broke it up and browned it in a hot cast-iron skillet, and that is probably more key than choosing a particular type of sausage.

Brown things thoroughly in a hot pan with some fat, and they will usually taste good. 😉

How do you make mashed potatoes for one?

Zoe doesn’t really like mashed potatoes, so if I want them, I have to make them for one!

I just peel a few potatoes, cut them into chunks, boil them until they’re tender, and then add eyeballed amounts of butter, salt, pepper, and cream/milk/half and half (whatever I have on hand.)

mashed Yukon Gold potatoes

I generally end up with several servings, so I eat one serving fresh, and then I eat the rest leftover.

Like, sometimes I will eat mashed potatoes for breakfast, topped with an egg or two, with a side of veggies.

mashed potatoes with fried eggs.

Or sometimes I get a little fancier. 😉

Potato patty with sausage and guacamole.

I also sometimes like to eat mashed sweet potatoes; this is super easy if I have roasted a bunch of sweet potatoes; I just mash up a few, add butter, salt, and pepper, heat them up, and I’m good to go.

baked sweet potatoes.

Do you prep veggies ahead of time for your bowls? This seems like a lot of work for one person.

I don’t generally prep ahead. Sometimes I do bake a bunch of sweet potatoes at one time (as mentioned above), but usually I’m making my egg/potato/veggie bowls on the fly.

An egg, bean, and veggie bowl.

This lets me do a quick fridge scan to see what’s most urgently needing to be used and then I work around that.

My skillet meals really don’t seem like that much work to me; eggs cook fast, and it doesn’t take long to slice up some veggies and brown them.

Even potatoes are pretty quick; getting a few servings worth of potatoes cut up for mashed potatoes goes fast, and cutting up a few potatoes to make wedges doesn’t take long.

breakfast potatoes and eggs.


(Here’s my secret for making fast potato cubes/wedges that don’t burn.)

That mashed potato bowl I made was probably a 20-30 minute endeavor start to finish, which is on the longer side of things. If it’s just sauteed veggies and eggs, that’s maybe 5-10 minutes of effort.

If we’re comparing this to takeout, I keep in mind that picking up takeout doesn’t take zero minutes; it does take time to place an order and drive there and back.

Plus, most takeout I’d get would probably be a little less nutrient-dense than my potato bowl.

Also, takeout would be far more expensive, and it wouldn’t help me use up my fridge contents.

green salad with eggs and potatoes.

One other reason I do this: I think feeding myself well is an important form of self-care.

First, it’s an acknowledgment that I matter. Even if it’s just me here, well, I am worth cooking for.

Kristen and Chiquita.


And secondly, feeding my cells well is gonna make me feel at least as good as other things we typically think of as self-care.

I’m not against massages or pedicures, obviously; I just think that cooking a nutrient-dense, tasty meal for yourself should also be considered a form of self-care. 🙂

(I also put sleep prioritization and regular exercise in this category!)

A roasted carrot modification

I posted a recipe for roasted carrots years ago, using a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. Those carrots are super good, but I have seriously streamlined the process since then.

easy roasted carrots

First, I don’t use any foil or parchment paper at all now (cheaper! More green!)

Secondly, I don’t mix anything in a bowl first.

I put some butter on the sheet pan, stick it in the hot oven for a few minutes to melt the butter, and then I take it out, add the carrots, season with salt and pepper, mix it all up, and put the pan in the oven.

Less mess, fewer dishes, faster carrots.

I edited the original recipe with these changes, but I thought I should also tell you here. 🙂

I recently made pizza crust using your recipe, and I want to know if the crust can be frozen prior to cooking, preferably in the ball stage. If so, at which point of prep would I do it?


I would make the dough and freeze it right after I finished kneading it.

homemade pizza

Then I’d let it thaw at room temperature (during this time, the yeast should have sufficient time to multiply, thus compensating for the lack of a first rise), and once it’s thawed and is fully at room temperature, you should be able to proceed with the recipe.

It will take a while for the dough to thaw if it’s in a ball shape, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time until you figure out how long the thawing process takes at your house.

homemade pepperoni pizza

One note: I learned by trial and error that yeast dough does not keep forever; if it’s in the freezer for more than a few months, you risk having dough that won’t rise, and that makes for an extremely dense pizza crust.

Inedible, actually. Ha.

Here’s the pizza crust recipe that I use.

In case you don’t click the above link: for really awesome homemade pizza, I highly recommend getting a pizza stone and heating it up super hot for an hour before sliding your pizza in the oven to bake. It makes a crazy difference in how good your homemade pizza is.

Trust me. 🙂

Also, here are 5 reasons that your homemade pizza is terrible (plus how to fix it!)

I reread your post on how to sell books on eBay and was wondering if you know where to buy the book mailers in bulk or where they are cheapest? I want to start selling my books and know you’ll steer me in the most frugal direction;)
I don’t think I have bought a shipping envelope in my entire life, actually. I just save the ones that my own online purchases come in, and that keeps me sufficiently supplied! That way, packing tape is the only shipping supply I have to buy.
ebay packages.
I regularly use the Amazon-branded padded envelopes, and it has never caused a problem. So, my best suggestion is to have a little area to stash shipping envelopes for future use.
Since I’m not a super high-volume eBay seller, sometimes I end up with more shipping packages than I need, and when that happens, I list some on my Buy Nothing group.
package in mailbox.
So, that’s another idea: if you need some, try asking on your Buy Nothing group. Maybe there’s someone out there like me who has extras. 🙂

Readers, what do you have to add to my answers?

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Megan in CA

Monday 1st of April 2024

The links to the pizza articles are very timely for me! I've just started trying to make homemade pizza dough, having never been brave enough to bake with yeast before, and I can use all the help I can get. I've been making personal sized pizzas for the family. Tonight's tasted better than the last attempt, but the shapes are all still veeeery wonky.

Fru-gal Lisa

Monday 1st of April 2024

If you are planning to move, save those mailers (mailing envelopes) with the built-in bubble wrap, and put breakables such as saucers, small plates and knick-knacks inside. Also get/save bubble wrap and other padding/paper from any boxed items delivered to your place. You won't have to buy as many foam protectors from the U-Haul store, or use the newsprint paper or newspapers for the smaller things this way. Might even be able to put larger items in there, depending on the size of the mailers or padding. I saved my padded envelopes for many months prior to my move and they came in real handy, plus they were free. And no, I didn't break or chip a thing.


Monday 1st of April 2024

When I worked in a regular office, I found that putting up a note that I was looking for things like used mailing envelopes or glass jars always netted me an abundance of the item. People seemed eager to recycle if it was as easy as bringing something along with them to work. One time I needed wood chop sticks for a foster kid's school project and I learned that people must just keep stashing them not knowing what to do with them because I received over 100 packs of them! Sometimes I would get one or two donations that could not be recycled and I just quietly got rid of those because I did not want to discourage responses to my notes.


Monday 1st of April 2024

@Lindsey, chopsticks can be used as kindling in a wood stove. Or as stakes for indoor plants (well I suppose outdoor too until the plant got too big).

Jennifer G

Monday 1st of April 2024

Best way ever to save bowl, measuring cups, etc. is use a recipe (or convert yourself) in grams with a kitchen scale. Started using a long time ago & have never looked back.

Blue Gate Farmgirl

Monday 1st of April 2024

I volunteer at the Senior Center and they have an over abundance of mailers and such. We keep it organized in a storage closet and use it for shipping out treats to the various National Guard troops serving abroad. At our local recycling depot there is a huge dumpster full of mailers that anyone can pick up to reuse. A little forethought when meal planning goes along way towards future meals during a busy week. One day of serious prep, peeling/chopping/roasting can yield rice/potato/pasta bowls. I always make big batches (3 heads) of lettuce, storing the pre made salads in mason quart jars with plastic lids...these will stay fresh for up to 5 days (if they last that long). I do this with cabbage, too. Onions I keep chopped and in 1/2 cup amounts in the freezer, same with fresh garlic, red peppers and roasted chiles. Chopping and roasting a sheet pan full of veggies can be used as a side, chop up a bit more and add stir fry sauce and a protein, chop up a bit more and add to fajitas or soup or veggie fried rice, top with an egg or two and you've got a 15 min meal. I usually have batches of teriyaki, peanut sauce and yum yum sauce ready to go. Chopped fruit, berries from the freezer, topped with vanilla yogurt makes a nice side or dessert. I taught a newly married group at church for a decade or so. Meal planning is such a budget saver.

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