Nutrition Articles

Practical Cooking Tips for Singles

Save Time, Money and Reduce Waste

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Plan your meals. Monday’s roasted chicken and rice can become Wednesday’s vegetable soup with rice and homemade chicken broth. The ultimate in no-waste efficient eating, menu planning isn’t just for the ultra-organized. Just jot down a few dishes that you’d like to make in the upcoming week and then brainstorm about how you can use up the inevitable leftovers in other meals. Plan out when you’ll have time to make and eat all the meals on your list, put together a shopping list for the necessary ingredients, and you’re set!

Limit your snack food options. If you have trouble motivating yourself to cook, grazing on whatever is easy, you might wind up eating crackers and ice cream every night. Instead, buy apples, carrots, celery and other healthy snacks. Wash and chop them as soon as you get home from the store. Snack on these healthy alternatives while you’re waiting for your real meal to cook.

Combine foods. If cooking is not a favorite pastime of yours but you’re determined to eat healthy at home, aim for one-dish meals that incorporate a variety of food groups. Scrambled eggs with sautéed peppers and onions on whole grain toast or a homemade personal pizza topped with broccoli and tomatoes on whole wheat pita are two healthy and simple ideas. Soups are another great way to pack a lot of variety and nutrition into one pot.

Dine in with friends! Wondering “Why cook a great meal if there’s no one to share it with?” Invite some friends over for dinner and benefit from the company and the leftovers.

Do a little research. There are lots of cookbooks out there full of recipes that making cooking for one or two easy (no math skills required). Check your local library, bookstore, or the Internet for ideas.

Keep it safe. To be healthy, your food also has to be safe. Stick to the following food safety guidelines.
  • Store leftovers within 2 hours of cooking.
  • Discard leftovers if the food has been sitting at room temperature for more than 1 hour.
  • Eat or freeze leftovers within 3-5 days
  • Eat frozen leftovers within 2 months.

If you live alone, cooking often becomes a thankless chore, with no one to appreciate you for slaving over the hot stove—except yourself. It becomes easier to give in to the temptation of carry out than to cook a healthy meal. But with a pinch of planning and a dash of motivation, cooking solo can be fun and easy, benefiting your body and your bank account.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • Taste of Home magazine used to have a section called, "Cooking for One or Two." There were a variety of recipes in each issue. I haven't taken the magazine for a long time. I don't know if they still do this or not, but for some of you it might be worth checking into. - 1/11/2014 8:31:04 AM
  • Great tips. But I am not single. - 12/22/2013 3:03:02 PM
  • Great tips. But I am not single. - 12/22/2013 3:03:00 PM
  • DIETER061
    I enjoy cooking for myself. I stir fry Vegies with a lean protein and add rice, or pasta. It changes every day. I find chopping veggies very relaxing when doing it in small portions. - 1/4/2013 6:31:21 AM
  • BETHFOODGOD1
    Living alone means you can focus on healthy eating--sometimes my meals get boring, but I can control it so much easier. - 12/2/2012 7:03:19 PM
  • One positive thing about cooking and eating alone is it lets you more easily practice mindfulness--livi
    ng in the moment, focusing on each act of cooking, and each flavor while eating, more slowly. Of course, you do need to have social meals too! - 12/2/2012 1:13:59 AM
  • Lots of good tips and ideas there. Thank You. - 9/13/2012 6:04:44 AM
  • Although I am not single, I really appreciated reading this article. My husband does not eat all of my vegeterian dishes. therefore, I was concerned about cooking so much. This article solved that problem for me. - 2/1/2012 10:33:47 PM
  • PATTICAKE13
    Thank you for all the infor. It gets me into the right mind set. I had forgotten what i use to do, when I was eating 3 meals a day. with nothing in bewteen. Eating healthy meals and menues. - 8/20/2011 5:29:33 PM
  • Cooking once a week and freezing or refrigerating - meh. Makes me feel like I'm eating leftovers. I'd rather cook every day or eat raw than store cooked food. Just me... - 8/20/2011 8:44:27 AM
  • Awesome Tips! I try to get together with a couple of my single buddies once a month & do a swap. We each make a full recipe, portion out the servings, keep a serving for ourselves & swap the remaining portions with each other. It's a nice way to share your extra stuff & not end up eating the same thing all week. - 8/9/2011 6:52:51 PM
  • I try to do most of my cooking on the weekends and then immediately put the dish into individual containers for meals during the week or freezing. Saves me lots of time, since my weeknights are often busy. I also have a single friend who likes to eat as much as I like to cook, so that works out great. I find I eat less too when I eat with a friend since I'm engaged in conversation and not just eating! I eat slower and have a chance to feel full. - 8/9/2011 4:08:32 PM
  • These tips certainly apply to singles, I use them and I'm single! I like to get the family packs of boneless skinless chicken breast on sale and freeze them flat. I'll plan a variety of meals that week around chicken so it doesn't get boring. I make enough to have a lunch the next day at work. Be creative. - 8/9/2011 12:20:49 PM
  • MYNEWNORMAL
    I love the idea about using the bulk section of the grocery store. I always thought of that for large quantities, but buying only what I need will keep me from having to throw out half-full packages after they expire. Thanks! - 5/12/2011 11:45:34 AM
  • BIENEGOLD
    There wasn't a single tip in here that was actually for singles. Fail. - 4/14/2011 8:17:52 PM

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