- Written by Karen Lentner, MA, RD, LDN, Nutritionist
- Published: 23 August 2018
Cooking for one or two - simple strategies to make it work!
Do you ever find yourself thinking about preparing a meal and end up having cheese and crackers or a cup of tea with a bowl of cereal for dinner? Does it hardly seem worth the effort to plan and cook a meal for one person? Do you find yourself snacking your way through the day or eating whatever is easy and available? It doesn’t have to be difficult to cook nutritious, tasty meals for one or two people if you take a little time and plan ahead!
In order to stay healthy, we all need a variety of foods. Although cooking for one may be a challenge, it can also be fun. Plan your meals before you do your shopping. Look at grocery store flyers to see what’s on sale this week; look at cookbooks, magazines, or search online for recipes that are appealing. Check your kitchen to see what you already have on hand. Consider a small roast or chicken one day, utilizing leftovers for a sandwich or additional meals later in the week. Keep it simple, be flexible. Once you’ve planned your meals, a grocery list easily falls into place. Try shopping with family or a friend, purchasing items together (eggs, seasonings, meat, or packaged produce) to share the amount and cost. Convenience foods may be expensive and high in salt; keep this in mind when planning. Limit frozen dinner entrees, read labels, and add fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables to increase nutritional value. Cook a meal to share with a friend, and next time have your friend cook the meal.
Stocking your refrigerator and pantry helps you avoid having nothing to eat. Items may include rice, pasta, beans (dried or canned), eggs, canned tomatoes and sauce, canned tuna, chicken pieces, meatballs, pizza dough, peanut butter, hummus, and frozen vegetables in bags. Many of these items allow you to use just what you need. If making a stew or soup, prepare a recipe and freeze the remainder in small plastic containers (dated) and reheat at another time. Add leftover frozen fruit (bought in season or on sale) to pancake batter or muffins; add vegetables, cheese, meat/chicken or beans to stews, soups, salads, or eggs.
Consider following a weekly meal outline to help you plan:
- Sunday – traditional meat, potato/rice, vegetable
- Monday – breakfast for dinner
- Tuesday – casserole or sandwich made with Sunday leftovers
- Wednesday – pasta/meatless
- Thursday – eat from the freezer
- Friday – stir fry or tacos
- Saturday – soup/stew, sandwiches, or salad
Once a week, prepare and freeze extra portions of at least one main dish.
A quick and easy meal may include:
- English muffin pizza topped with tomato sauce, vegetables, cheese
- Microwaved baked potato topped with meat, chili, vegetables, and/or cheese
- Pasta/rice with ground beef or legumes, vegetables, and sauce
It’s easier than you think – cook ahead and freeze what you can!