What do you eat when you’re cooking for one? For too many people the answer is takeout, cold cereal, popcorn, or some thrown together leftovers we wouldn’t dare share with another human being. But there’s no reason that meals for one need to be any less healthy and delicious than what you would serve to guests. While it may feel hard to plan and prepare meals for just yourself, it’s important to remember that eating well is vital at any age. Healthy eating can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. The most important part of eating well for one is to have a plan. Enjoy a healthy, balanced diet with these tips for meal planning for one.
Plan Your Menu
Don’t wait until you get home to start thinking about what’s for dinner. Without a plan, it’s easy to fall into a habit of choosing whatever is quick and convenient, like ordering a pizza or popping some popcorn. Choose recipes that specifically serve one or two people. While a little bit of leftovers is nice, you don’t necessarily want to eat the same thing all week. You can also cut almost recipe in half with a little math. You might also need to adjust the cooking time when making a recipe smaller than the original.
Plan your meals so that ingredients, or leftovers, from one night transition over to the next meal. For example, if you have rice as a side dish on Monday, you can use leftover rice as an ingredient for a casserole on Tuesday. If a recipe on Wednesday uses half a green pepper, slice up the other half and add it to your salad on Thursday. If you cook a chicken at the start of the week, or pick up a roast chicken, you can use that meat in dishes like tacos, salads, and sandwiches all week. For meals with a lot of leftovers, like lasagna, a casserole, or stew, portion out the remaining servings and put them in the freezer. You won’t get tired of eating the same dish for a week in a row, and you’ll know you have a few nights of food stocked away for a busy evening.
Make a list of the menus you plan to have that week, then write your shopping list for the ingredients you need to pick up at the store. Work on collecting recipes that use few ingredients, making shopping and food preparation faster. The salad bar at your grocery store is a great place to pick up fresh produce when you only need a small amount, like a handful of celery or a few cherry tomatoes. Think about versions of ingredients that last longer than others. For example, a tube of tomato paste lasts longer than a can when you’re cooking for one.
Always keep an emergency shelf in your pantry stocked with items such as pasta, canned tuna and salmon, peanut butter, canned or frozen vegetables, legumes, and canned fruit, and powdered milk. You never know when bad weather or personal illness might keep you from the grocery store. You can plan quick meals with just a few basic items.
Utilize your freezer for storing foods. Just like storing leftovers, you can divide bulk foods into smaller portions and freeze them to store. Vegetables can be blanched and then frozen. Nuts freeze well, and so does butter. Just make sure that you label and date everything for reference.
Dining for one doesn’t have to mean just eating whatever is available. Gather recipes, healthy ingredients, and make a plan. You’ll see how simple it can be to make nutritious meals for one. At Coverage Made, we are here to help you live well. Count on us for useful information about making wise financial and insurance choices.