7 tips for cooking for one

Cooking for one can feel like a chore at times, but there are ways to make it a fun and creative experience. Let’s explore some ways to take the stress out of eating for one.

Before we get into the tips, why is it hard to cook for one person? The truth is, a lot of the food we purchase is packaged with families in mind, making it tricky to get through what we buy and reducing our options.

Picture the scene: you get home from a long day at work. You’re exhausted and ready for an evening to just switch off and relax. You just need to figure out dinner first. You head to the fridge and find wilted veggies, questionable leftovers and an empty freezer. You reach for the same cereal you had at breakfast and promise yourself you’ll restock tomorrow.

Sound familiar? Not being able to share the load of cooking with others can make it feel like a slog, and can lead to more convenience eating. Of course, this is totally fine, but when it becomes a habit it can affect how you feel. If you’re feeling the strain but are determined to make cooking for one joyful again, try these tips.

Cooking for one tips and tricks

1. Get planning

One of the best ways to reduce food waste and ensure you’ll use up any ingredients you buy is to set out a meal plan. Think about how you can use certain ingredients in multiple recipes. For example, if you buy a bag of spinach, think about what dishes you can add this to throughout the week; you might add it to a pasta dish, wilt some on the side of scrambled eggs and throw some into a smoothie.

Meal planning may take a little time and effort upfront, but as well as reducing food waste, it can really help relieve that ‘what-shall-I-have-for-dinner-tonight?’ stress.

2. Shop smart (and small)

By the time you come to your food shop, you should have a good plan in place and know what you need to pick up. To ensure you’re getting quantities that work for you, think small! This might mean going to the meat/cheese counter to get the amounts you need and buying loose fruits and veg. Be mindful about items that can be frozen too, to help you make more of the ingredient.

Don’t forget about storage solutions either. Do you have containers to store leftovers and freezer items? Keep this in mind when shopping and add some to your basket if needed. 

3. Stock your pantry and freezer

Part of the problem when cooking for one is that fresh ingredients don’t always last long enough. Ensuring you have a pantry/store cupboard full of non-perishables can help here. Things like canned items, pasta, rice, cereals, nuts and dried fruit can be versatile and ensure you’re never stuck for snacks.

The same goes for your freezer. Stock up on frozen fruit and vegetables to help them last longer and make eating well a cinch. 

4. Embrace batch cooking

When in doubt, cook more than one portion and freeze your leftovers. Batch cooking things that can either be frozen or stored like soups, stews, home-made granola, muffins or pasta make the effort of cooking go further. Looking for inspiration? Try these recipes:

5. Use versatile and simple recipes

To help simplify the cooking and clean-up process, try one-pot dishes like stir-fries, sheet pan meals or pasta dishes. Look for simple recipes that don’t use too many ingredients or too many steps to help make cooking less daunting.

It can help to have a few go-to meals that you familiarise yourself with. Recipes that are quick, easy and you enjoy. Having these to hand can help when inspiration runs dry or you don’t have the energy to think of something new.

6. Get creative with leftovers

If you get to the end of the week and find a few straggler ingredients, try to get creative with what you can do with them. A great way to do this is to search for recipes based on what you’ve got left in the fridge. Hopefully, you’ll find ideas to try or get inspired. With that in mind, our final tip is…

7. Make time to get inspired

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, take some time to go down a recipe rabbit hole, hunt down new cookbooks and get lost on recipe TikTok. Consider joining a cooking community, perhaps through a local supper club or a cooking class. Allow yourself to get excited about the food you’re making, try new cuisines and bring that enthusiasm to every meal.

Cooking can be a joyful thing; a moment of mindfulness and self-care. It’s a chance for us to nourish ourselves, physically and emotionally. It doesn’t have to be your favourite thing in the world, but we hope with these tips it’s at least not the worst thing in the world.

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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Content Producer for Memiah and writer for Nutritionist Resource and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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