For the past three years, Tom has been working out of town. That has given me a unique cooking set up. Half the time I’m cooking for both of us and half the time I’m cooking for just myself.
In the beginning, I really felt what so many single people had told me, cooking for one is hard. I ate more bowls of cereal for dinner than I care to admit. But then I realized, a girl can’t sustain herself on cereal alone…even if I do add protein powder to the milk to make it a more “balanced” meal. And so I had to figure out how to make healthy meals for one. Now I actually find cooking for one WAY easier than cooking for two or a family and I’m ready to share my tips and tricks!
1. Cook once and repurpose
I’m not a big fan of eating the same leftovers day after day. But it can be a challenge when you’re cooking for yourself to use up ingredients. Instead of making an entire recipe, scale it back and repurpose the leftover ingredients into a completely different meal.
What do I mean? If for example, I buy a butternut squash, I’ll cube and roast the entire butternut squash. The first day I’ll eat the squash as a side dish with salmon. The second day I’ll add roasted squash to a salad. The third day I’ll blend up the remaining roasted squash and create a pasta sauce. Instead of eating the same roasted squash three days in a row, I managed to use up an entire squash and eat three completely different meals. This same idea can be used for so many different ingredients, it just takes a little planning, which leads me to tip #2.
2. Meal plan
As I always say, the key to healthy eating is meal planning and grocery shopping accordingly. The same principles apply regardless if you’re feeding just yourself or a family of 5. Prepare a meal plan and consider the ingredients that you can use in multiple meals throughout the week. This will reduce waste and make healthy eating so much easier.
There is nothing worse than standing in front of a fridge having no idea what to make. If you make a meal plan at the beginning of the week, your ingredients will be on hand and you can begin prepping dinner when you get home from work.
3. Aim for balance, not perfection
When I’m cooking for Tom, I feel that I should make a “proper” meal but when it’s just for myself, I don’t care about food rules. As long as I have a balanced plate of vegetables, protein and starch, I don’t care if the meal doesn’t fully go together. This means at times I eat strange dinner combinations. It’s not uncommon to see things like roasted broccoli and sweet potato with boiled eggs or barbequed chicken breast with hashbrowns and a side salad. So get creative in the kitchen, put together whatever YOU feel like eating. There are no rules.
4. Opt for vegetarian
Personally, I often find cooking meat feels like more work so when I’m alone, I opt for vegetarian food most of the time. Beans are a great source of protein that can be cooked in large batches and frozen into individual servings ready to be microwaved and easily added on top of salads, into a pasta or casserole. Eggs are something I eat very, very regularly. They are such an easy to cook protein source with almost endless combinations.
5. Freeze leftovers
If you do make large portions of a recipe, don’t feel that you need to eat it all as leftovers in one week. Instead, freeze individual portions. These are perfect to reheat on busy nights or times you just don’t feel up to cooking. A healthy meal is ready and in the freezer, so you don’t have to rely upon a lean cuisine (blech).
6. When all else fails, eat breakfast
I don’t know about you, but I love breakfast foods. Now I’m not recommending cereal for supper daily but I am saying go ahead and eat breakfast foods. They are quick and easy. French toast with a side of fresh cut fruit makes a great meal. So does a vegetable omelette with toast and peanut butter.
Do you find cooking for one hard? What tips do you have to make cooking for one easy and healthy?
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