Creating balanced meals to last throughout the day and/or week can be a challenge for many, especially when living alone. Cooking for one may seem like a challenge, but here are a few simple tips to help you prevent wasting food and your money.
Find and write out recipes and meals for the week before you shop. Before heading to the store, be sure to research the meals that will be on the menu for the week ahead. Keep it simple. No need to pick out every day in advance—start by picking between two to three meals that include ingredients that can be used to create leftovers the following day, or throughout the week.
Next step—make a list! Be sure to write down key ingredients, and the amounts needed for each meal. Read this post for some meal prepping inspo.
Weigh out your produce. In the produce section of the grocery store, it’s beneficial to weigh out the produce needed. Instead of grabbing three or four potatoes, apples, or onions, and throwing them in the cart, try weighing the produce at the store. Doing so can avoid purchasing too many items that may potentially go bad during the week.
Buy ingredients that can be used in multiple ways. While it may take some time, it can be worthwhile to find recipes that include similar ingredients. Some examples include broccoli or carrots for salads, as side dishes, and as an afternoon snack, and shredded chicken to add to a salad, a sandwich, or just on the side as a snack. Instead of watching the spinach go bad, add a handful to a morning egg scramble, or to a fruit smoothie.
Planning out what ingredients are needed for the week can help you to not over-buy at the store, and ultimately can be used within the week, instead of going bad.
Harness your inner prep cook. Slicing and dicing can seem like a chore if it’s done every day. Save some time and consider doing it all at once instead. Put on some fun music, grab some small tupperware containers for storage, and get to choppin’!
Meal prep sheet pan meals. Another great way to cook for one is to make sheet pan meals. Not only does it require less dishes in general, it can all be cooked at once in the oven! Start by adding one or two vegetables of your choice and spreading them out evenly on the baking sheet. Be sure to leave enough room for your protein, add some seasoning or spices, and let it bake. This will allow you around half an hour to take a shower, tidy up the house, or watch some television while it cooks!
Pack the snacks. When it comes to consuming healthy snacks throughout the day, it may be wise to grab a reusable bag, and portion out the snacks for the week. For example, following the serving size and portion out the trail-mix, pretzels, or carrots and hummus for the week ahead. That way, you grab it and go!
If you’re working from home, you can simply open the refrigerator and grab a bag of pre-portioned snacks that are ready to go, versus diving into the entire bag and over-consuming.
Get creative. Everything may not work out perfectly, but being creative with leftovers can sometimes bring delightful (and convenient) meals! Couldn’t finish the salad, but dressing has already been added? No worries—next day, spoon it out onto a warm spinach tortilla for a delicious wrap! Using up leftovers in creative ways is another great option to steer clear from the fast food drive-thru line, knowing there’s a healthier alternative waiting in the refrigerator.
Keep in mind that cooking for one doesn’t need to be looked at as a chore. In fact, it can actually be a great form of self-care. Try and do some of the lifting up front, and then enjoy the week ahead filled with deliciousness!
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.