If there's anything tougher than cooking for a crowd, it's cooking for one. When you have a single mouth to feed, it can be difficult to muster the motivation to shop for ingredients, prepare meals, cook and clean up—especially when most recipes yield multiple servings that will likely languish in the fridge before ultimately getting pitched. For many one-person households, the takeout menu often takes priority over the recipe book…but that convenience comes at a cost to your pocketbook and your waistline.
Fortunately, there are plenty of compact recipes designed for solo dining, making it easy to downsize the cooking process without compromising on taste. With these efficient yet delicious one-person meals, you'll buy fewer ingredients, spend less time prepping and waste less food—and discover that good things really can come in small packages.
- Two-Minute Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal: With 11 grams of protein and only 135 calories, this fast, filling breakfast will keep you satisfied until lunch.
- Asparagus, Brie and Smoked Salmon Omelet: Stuffed with smoked salmon, slender asparagus, creamy brie and ripe cherry tomatoes, this omelet makes the perfect brunch for one.
- Grain-Free Apple Cinnamon Roll Porridge: For those looking to eat grain-free, this porridge alternative gets its sweetness from fresh apples and a touch of cinnamon.
- Masala Omelette: This omelet is packed with fresh veggies and a hint of spice that makes breakfast or brunch a special treat for the senses.
- Scrambled Eggs with Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto: Topped with cherry tomatoes and dairy-free pesto, this gorgeous and healthy breakfast is gluten-free, Paleo-friendly and low-carb.
- Nutella Cookie Dough Breakfast Bites: Don’t let the name fool you: Packed with protein and fiber, these single-serve bites taste like dessert but get your day off to a healthy, energized start.
- Microwave Banana Oatmeal: Creamy and delicious, this single-serve oatmeal will help keep you full till lunch.
- Cheesy Pesto Scramble: Full of veggies and high in protein, this is breakfast for one feels a little bit indulgent, thanks to the addition of cheese and pesto.
- Vegetarian Farmer's Breakfast: This German classic-made-modern is perfect for rebuilding after a tough workout.
- Blueberry Coconut Flour Pancakes for One: These grain-free, Paleo-approved pancakes have been scaled down for one hungry individual.
Sandwiches & Wraps
- Southwestern Wraps: Make as many or as few of these delicious and nutritious Southwestern wraps as you'd like.
- Avocado Egg Salad Wraps: Need a single-serve lunch on the quick? This protein-packed wrap comes together beautifully in just a few minutes.
- The Ultimate Avocado Sandwich: This super tasty sandwich is stacked with essential "good" fats and plenty of protein.
- California Turkey Club Wrap: Stuffed with turkey, bacon, avocado, tomato and lettuce, this makes a delicious and balanced lunch.
- Pork Pita with Fried Black Beans & Apple Celery Slaw: Pork, apples and beans form a tantalizing trifecta in this savory lunch or dinner dish.
- Turkey Pesto Avocado Sandwich: A mouth-watering, turkey and grilled cheese sandwich with avocado and pesto that makes for a crispy, melt-in-your mouth experience.
- Grilled Zucchini Hummus Wrap: Who said vegetarian meals have to be boring? Fresh veggies are grilled to perfection and packed into this wrap, making it an easy meal for one.
- Spicy Spinach and Avocado Quesadilla: Spicy and simple, this six-ingredient meal makes it easy to whip up a healthy, hearty dinner on busy nights.
Snacks & Appetizers
- Individual Chicken Pot Pies: These petite pies are the perfect comfort food on a chilly night, while helping you hit your daily veggie quota.
- Quinoa Pizza Crust: Topped with tomato sauce, fresh basil, shallots, ribboned carrots and cashew cheese, this super-simple pizza is packed with fiber and protein.
- Zucchini & Ginger Cashew Pesto on Zucchini Logs: Vegan and gluten-free, this makes a nutritious and satisfying snack.
- Spinach Quinoa Stuffed Peppers: Sweet bell peppers are stuffed with quinoa, spices, corn and black beans, then roasted to perfection.
Soups & Salads
- Spinach & Feta Pita Pizza: This might be the only time you can enjoy an entire pizza without an ounce of guilt.
- Pesto Mozzarella Tart: Using pesto as a base, this versatile pastry snack can be prepared in three delicious ways.
- Superfood Green Smoothie Bowl: This well-rounded breakfast is a complete source of protein, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.
- Veggie "Sushi" Rolls: Perfect for a midday pick-me-up, they’re packed with nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, protein and healthy fats -- not to mention creamy deliciousness!
- Kale and Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette: This fresh medley is a flavorful way to incorporate more kale into your diet.
- Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad: Satisfying enough to serve for lunch or dinner, this savory salad is delicious paired with hummus and kale chips.
- Tadka-Topped Roasted Root Soup: Pureed veggies are transformed with tadka, a seared Indian spice mix that infuses the dish with unforgettable flavor.
- Pomegranate and Pear Mason Jar Salad: Not only is it gorgeous, this bold, bright salad boasts a mouth-watering mix of sweet and salty flavors.
- Summer Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette: This healthy spring salad makes the most of the season's produce, featuring fresh strawberries in both the salad and the dressing. Serves two, or one if you're hungry!
- BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad: Avocado and eggs are the foundation for bold southwestern flavors, crunchy bacon and red onion.
- White Bean Salad: Filling and satisfying, this salad has more than 20 grams of protein and loads of iron, calcium and magnesium.
- Easy Thai Steak Salad: An ideal source of protein for one, this veggie-loaded sirloin steak salad couldn't be simpler to throw together.
Meat & Seafood Main Dishes
- Creamy Pork Chop with Mustard & Apples: Super simple to prepare, this classic dish never disappoints.
- Spanish-Style Chicken with Olives & Peppers: This sassy, spicy dish is prepared all in one pan for easy prep and clean-up.
- Herb-Crusted Turkey Roast for One: For those times when you’re craving a tender, juicy turkey, without the Thanksgiving crowd.
- Blackened Tilapia with Cilantro Lime Sauce: This healthy, flavorful and low-calorie dish comes together in just 10 minutes.
- Roasted Salmon & Asparagus: In this 20-minute dinner, seasoned salmon bakes on a bed of asparagus in one pan.
- Catfish with Fennel and Tomatoes for One: Fennel, red pepper, tomatoes and garlic lend a delightful flavoring to this savory seafood dish.
Drinks & Desserts
- Key Lime Pie Protein Smoothie: Full of protein and vitamin C, this smooth, creamy smoothie satisfies your sweet tooth while keeping sugar cravings at bay.
- Banana Bread Mug Cake: Grain-free and refined sugar-free, this mug cake is healthy enough to eat for breakfast and delicious enough to enjoy for dessert.
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Smoothie: Fuel your next workout or power through the day with the rich, buttery taste of your favorite dessert, packed with protein and low in calories.
- No-Bake Giant Cookie for One: Soft, chewy and secretly healthy, this guilt-free cookie is ready in minutes.
- Healthy Edible Banana Bread Batter for One: Enjoy the taste and texture of banana bread batter, without the egg, gluten or excess calories.
- Carrot Cake Coconut Smoothie: When you need to hit the reset button, this bright smoothie is chock-full of vitamin A. Bonus: It tastes like carrot cake in a glass.
- Honey-Roasted Figs with Pistachio & Greek Yogurt: With a cold, creamy texture and exotic flavors, this is a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Cake: When your sweet tooth strikes, splurge smart with this single-serving dessert.
- One-Minute Blueberry Muffin: This healthy, single-serving muffin is ready in just a minute with a microwave, and can also be prepared in the oven.
- Vanilla Cake Batter Oatmeal: Indulge in the scrumptious taste of cake batter in a protein-packed oatmeal.
9 Cooking Tips for Singles
What are your favorite single-serving recipes? How do you make cooking for one a win-win?
- Make a meal plan. Just because you're cooking for one doesn't mean you should wing it. Take the time to create a weekly meal plan and stock your kitchen with healthy staples. You'll be much more likely to cook instead of falling into the takeout trap.
- Become a master of scaling down. Almost any recipe can be cut in half, or even quartered, to produce the perfect-size portion for one. To streamline the process, invest in a kitchen scale and use an online conversion calculator.
- Make friends with the freezer. Go ahead and make that big recipe, then divvy the extras into single-serve portions and freeze them for future meals. In addition to reducing waste and making mealtimes easier, this helps with portion control. You can also freeze extra fruits and veggies for smoothies.
- Invest in some small appliances. A single-size blender, juicer, toaster oven and food processor will keep you motivated to cook while shortening the process.
- Learn how to preserve produce. Prolong the life of your fruits and veggies with a few smart storage tips.
- Shop the bulk bins. By hand-picking custom amounts of grains, flour, cereals, spices and other loose items, you'll save big over the full-size packaging and reduce waste.
- Breathe new life into leftovers. Look for creative ways to reinvent leftovers. For example, all that extra chicken can be repurposed into a soup, quesadilla or pasta dish.
- Make it fun. Do whatever makes the cooking process more enjoyable, whether that's rocking out to your favorite music playlist, breaking out the fancy dishes or cooking and eating outside on warm summer evenings.
- Hit up the grocery counters. Instead of settling for the pre-packaged (and often larger-sized) meats, seafood and deli selections, visit the counters and request single portions of those foods.