8 Tips for Cooking for One

Whether you live alone or your partner is traveling, we all end up cooking for one. And it’s sometimes a bit of a challenge, especially when most recipes aren’t created to make a single serving. But, of course, cooking for one isn’t impossible either, especially if you have the right know-how. Here are eight tips to help you make healthy, delicious, and interesting meals for one!

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Buy only what you need
When it comes to grocery shopping, family-size bags are, of course, a better deal, but only if you eat what’s inside before it spoils. When it comes to cooking for one, be careful about how much you buy. If you end up tossing expired food, you’re essentially throwing money away. When you’re grocery shopping, think about what you can reasonably eat before the produce perishes and only buy what you need for the upcoming week.

Use fresh produce more than one way
Once you’ve purchased your fresh produce for the week, be strategic with it. Eat your most perishable items first, such as berries and leafy greens, and save heartier produce, like carrots and potatoes, for meals later in the week, so nothing goes to waste.

Embrace frozen produce 
If you have trouble with spoiling produce, embrace the frozen variety! Frozen fruits and veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh and they’re often more affordable, especially if they don’t go to waste. Since frozen fruits and veggies are already chopped up, they make an easy and nutritious addition to smoothies, stir fries, pasta dishes, and soups. Just be sure to choose products without sauces or added sugar for the healthiest option.

Shop the bulk bins
Bulk bins are great if you’re cooking for one. They allow you to buy a single serving of ingredients like nuts, grains, or dried fruit that won’t go bad before you can use them. Plus, you can try just a tiny scoop of new foods to increase the variety in your meals.

Get clever with leftovers
With a little planning, you can make one recipe for dinner and have enough left over to make a totally different meal the next day. For instance, baked chicken breast can be served alongside veggies and rice one night, tossed into a salad the next night, and added to tacos after that. Trust me, it won’t feel like you’re eating leftovers!

Try eggs
Eggs can make a meal happen in a flash. They’re an excellent source of protein, contain a whole slew of nutrients, and the recipe possibilities are endless. Toss a handful of fresh spinach into scrambled eggs or make a quick egg sandwich on a whole grain English muffin, or hard-boil a few ahead of time for a quick and easy breakfast, snack, or addition to a salad.

Cook without recipes
If recipes have you preparing too much food that ultimately goes uneaten, try cooking without them! For instance, you could easily ad-lib a pita pizza with some cheese and roasted vegetables. Cooking for just yourself allows you to play around with different ingredients, textures, and flavors to figure out what you enjoy most. And once you’ve found some favorites, you’ll have a bunch of go-to recipes for one!

Make desserts in mugs or ramekins 
Who doesn’t love dessert? But if you’re cooking for one, baking an entire batch of cookies can be just too much temptation. Instead, make single-serving desserts in mugs or ramekins to keep your portion sizes in check. Some of my favorites: 3-Minute Oatmeal Raisin CookieBlueberry Pie for One, Microwave Nut Butter Cookieand No-Bake Cookie Dough.

Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.

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