I’ve lived in sharehouses, and now by myself, for a number of years now and whilst I was in a relationship for much of that time I also did a whole lot of cooking for one. I therefore know all too well that it can feel like a chore at times, and that you can easily fall into a rut of eating just simple to prepare, not all that nutritious (or delicious!) meals. Today I thought I would share with you some of my top tops for cooking for one to make it not only enjoyable but help you save money too!
1. Make A Meal Plan
I feel like meal planning is my answer to everything but it seriously is that useful! When cooking for one, meal planning means that you can make the most of ingredients that you’re buying and use them in multiple meals across the week. This might mean that you can buy a packet of tofu for example, then use it in a stir-fry for one dinner and crispy tofu tacos another night, rather than being stuck with half a packet and not knowing what to do with it!
Whilst it might be tempting to just buy things as you go given you don’t have to factor in anyone else’s wants or needs in my experience this just results in lots of wasted food and wasted money, neither of which are good outcomes!
2. Bulk Bins & Delis Are Your Friend
I know when we think of bulk bins it’s to buy things in large quantities, but they are equally excellent for buying small quantities too. This means you no longer have to find room to store large packets of grains, spices, legumes and nuts that you might not use all that often and instead can just pick up what you need at the time. The same goes for deli counters as you can get small servings of cheeses like feta, or even meat or seafood if that’s your thing. This is particularly excellent if you’re not a fan of eating the same thing for a few nights in a row as you no longer need to be dictated by serving sizes in packets.
3. Become Friends With Your Freezer
At any one time you’ll find single servings of up to five different meals stacked in my freezer, meaning that I always have something on hand if I need a meal in a hurry. Cooking for one doesn’t have to mean eating the same thing all week, instead pop a couple of serves of things like curries, soups, stews and even burritos in your freezer and set aside a night a week that you choose something from there to eat. It’s a great way to ensure you keep plenty of variety in your diet and is perfect for those nights when you know you’ll be in a rush!
4. Reinvent Leftovers
Cooking for one can make you a pro at reinventing leftovers, and I think it’s an excellent life skill to foster! Get creative and you’ll find yourself eating much more interesting meals, even if they’re based on the same original ingredients! Frittatas and fried rice are standard go-tos for leftover veggies, but you can turn a serve of curry into a pot-pie, leftover beans into a quesadilla or even into a baked potato topping. The options are pretty much endless, and I’d love to hear about some of your reinvented leftover success stories!
5. Get Good At Conversions
Learning to convert a recipe into one or two serves is key to successful cooking for one, particularly for recipes that don’t freeze well. A good set of digital scales and a full set of measuring cups and spoons are definitely your friend here. Just because a recipe was designed to serve 4 or 6 doesn’t mean it has to, particularly if it uses predominately fresh veggies and grains. Even if you have to open a can of tomatoes or whatnot, if you factor that in to your meal plan then you can use the rest of the can in something later in the week.
6. Make It Fun
The real key to making cooking for one less of a chore is to find a way to make it fun. This might mean trying out recipes that you otherwise would never get the opportunity to or popping on some music or a podcast to entertain you while you cook. Personally I’m a big fan of doing a Sunday arvo preparation session where I cook up a few things that I can either eat during the week or pop in the freezer, and prepare veggies and the like for other meals, all while listening to a whole host of podcasts. That way during the week I have healthy, delicious food ready to go, and I can enjoy foods that I wouldn’t bother to prepare after work due to their complexity or time needed. Perfect!