11 Helpful Tips To Cook for One Person

Making enough food for just you can be difficult if you live alone or if your eating habits differ from those you live with. The hassle of cooking a dinner from scratch, washing multiple dishes, and then having too many leftovers to consume often feels worth skipping in favor of ordering in.

Cooking for just one person can be quite a challenge, but it doesn't have to be stressful. Here are some ways that you can make cooking for your single self easier so you can enjoy your meals more. By following these tips, you'll also waste less food and money each week.

Tips to Cook for One!

  1. Plan Meals Ahead Of Time

    Whether you're feeding one person, four people, or 400 people, it all begins with a plan. You'll be fully aware of the groceries you need to buy, as well as the proper quantity. Consider the events of this week. Create a grocery list based on your ideas for the upcoming meals.

    Yes, meal planning takes work, but you'll find that having a plan makes your meals so much more enjoyable. Meals that have all the necessary ingredients for a healthy diet are typically the tastiest and most satisfying.

    Avoid overbuying the produce. In the late spring and summer, when the fruit is at its peak, this might be challenging. It's easy to overbuy tempting fruit that will eventually spoil because you can't possibly consume it all before it goes bad. Instead, figure out how much fresh food you'll need for your weekly menu and stick to it.

    Click here to learn more about successful meal planning

  2. Buy Ingredients That Can Be Used In Multiple Dishes

    older woman cooking alone in kitchenIt is easier to purchase an abundance of veggies, meats, and fruits when living in a multi-person family because these foods are more likely to be consumed. However, if you are shopping for one person, you will end up with far more fresh items than you can manage.

    Plan to get a limited range of vegetables that may be used in several different dishes instead (so you won't get bored eating the same one or two meals). For example, consider buying spinach, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, which can all be used in quiche, tacos, spaghetti, rice, soups, and other dishes.

  3. Stock Non-Perishables

    Stock your pantry with grains and legumes. Buy from bulk bins and store in airtight food storage containers. When your pantry is stocked in this way, you don't have to rely on convenience foods from the grocery store that are overly wrapped in plastic and can quickly measure out single amounts of lentils, pasta, rice, quinoa, beans, or nuts. Additionally, buying in bulk is incredibly economical.

  4. Learn Easy Recipes

    Recipes that don't require recalculating ingredient measurements, are simple to prepare for one person, including sandwiches, omelets, pasta, smoothies, stir fry, salad, and quesadillas. When you are familiar with a couple of easy recipes that have already been designed for a single person, you can prepare your meal quickly.

  5. Use Frozen Fruits/Vegetables

    If you're chopping vegetables (and have some ample time), you might as well make a big batch and store them in the freezer for later use. My mother always prepared weekday dinners in less time (than it took us to complete our homework) by using frozen, chopped vegetables. For convenience, you can also buy precut frozen fruits and veggies from the grocery store. This way, you can worry less about using them up before they go bad. 

  6. Cut Large Recipes In Half

    To reduce leftovers, don't be scared to half your favorite recipe. If a recipe calls for a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, for instance, you can typically half the ingredients and use an 8*8-inch baking dish instead. Don't forget to remember that it will likely cook more quickly. Likewise, you can cut the ingredients in half and use a smaller pot for recipes like stews, soups, and chili.

  7. Make Extra, So You Have Leftovers For The Week

    The freezer is a wonderful invention. Aside from fruits and vegetables, you may freeze raw and cooked meats, as well as cooked meals. For your leftovers, invest in some fantastic single-serving containers that are both freezer- and microwave-friendly. This will also allow you to freeze a few portions of your leftovers for the following week.

  8. Recreate The Leftovers

    older gentleman preparing food alone in kitchenLeftovers are often boring. You may not want to eat it again because you already ate it. To keep food interesting, find innovative ways to use leftovers! For example, if you grilled a steak for dinner and have some leftovers, you can reuse it for an omelet the next morning or chop it into pieces and use it to make a burrito for dinner the next night. If you have roasted chicken with vegetables and a potato for supper one night, save any leftover chicken for a grilled sandwich the next day.

  9. Donate Extra Ingredients

    One challenge with cooking for one is having extra ingredients. It's rare that all ingredients get used completely, regardless of how many portions you make. One solution to this problem is giving some of the extra ingredients (like a bag of flour or a can of beans) in your recipe to a friend, family member, or local food shelf. Someone will appreciate the food, and it will be better than letting food sit around and potentially even go bad in your pantry. 

  10. Consider A Meal Delivery Kit

    A service that delivers consumers pre-portioned ingredients and recipes, typically as a subscription service, is called a "Meal Kit." You can prepare healthy, home-cooked meals this way without having to worry about meal planning or running to the store for ingredients.

    The two most affordable 2022 meal kit services, with plans starting at roughly $5 per serving, are EveryPlate and Dinnerly. The next tier includes services like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef, each of which charges $9 to $10 per dish.

  11. Most Importantly, Enjoy Yourself

    Cooking for one does not have to be stressful. Food serves as a creative outlet. Try recreating a dish from a favorite restaurant, modernizing a family recipe, or browsing the farmers market for ideas. Cooking meals for oneself also enables you to customize every aspect to your own preferences. Whatever you prefer: spicy, mild, or anything in between.

Let us know in the comments below - What's your best tip to cook for one?