Updated December 2020.
It may seem tricky trying to find recipes for just one person or muster up the inspiration for new dishes. However, with a few simple tips, you can make delicious meals for yourself without wasting food or spending unnecessary money.
Tip #1: Say no to prepackaged food
Everything comes in containers these days and the quantities they are sold in are not always thrifty. Does a recipe only call for 1 cup of broccoli? Then break off one cups-worth from the head of broccoli in store, unless you know you will finish the rest later.
Take note of what you’re buying. Is the price per each or per pound? Per pound gives you more flexibility. Don’t be afraid to break up a bunch of cauliflower crowns (if they are sold by the pound) or bananas.
Tip #2: Celebrate with breakfast for dinner
An all-time favorite! No, not a bowl of cereal. Think about a fluffy omelet with low-fat cheese, veggies, and a slice of whole-grain toast. It’s quick to make and is a single-serving friendly dish.
Tip #3: Split a recipe for two
It may seem obvious, but it’s much easier to divide a recipe in half than it is to reduce a family-sized recipe.
Tip #4: Find a friend and trade a meal
Know someone else who cooks for one? Suggest that each of you find a recipe that serves two, whip it up, and share a portion with each other. You will have plenty of variety and gain inspiration for trying new dishes.
Don’t hold back, the more the merrier! More people means more tasty meals for you to enjoy. Do make sure, however, that your meals reheat or that they are freezer-friendly. That way your friends can eat them right away or save them.
Tip #5: The freezer is your friend
Give yourself the great gift of a home-cooked meal. Put together a large freezable meal that you can divvy up into single portions to heat and eat at your request. By freezing a large meal, you won’t be stuck eating it over and over until it’s gone. You can find freezable food-storage containers for single-serving portions at most supermarkets and home stores.
Tip #6: Cook one day and eat for seven!
Invest in a whole chicken or ham. You can use it throughout the course of a few days and use it differently at each meal (and freeze some for later, too!). A whole chicken can be chicken salad and chicken tacos. A pot roast can be used in a wrap or added to soup. Just make sure you don’t go too big. Aim to buy a size just large enough that you won’t have to store meat in your fridge for longer than 3-4 days unless you are okay storing the rest in your freezer for another time.