Practical Cooking Tips for Singles

Living alone is not without benefits—peace and quiet whenever you need it, undisturbed organization and order (or guilt-free sloppiness), and room to stretch out and relax. But some things are just more fun when you have someone to share them with. Cooking is one of those things.

Cooking for guests usually evokes a sense of pride and accomplishment. But when you are cooking for yourself, it can feel more like a chore. On top of that, a busy lifestyle that includes any combination of work, school, childcare and exercise can make it difficult to plan and prepare healthy meals. The following hints will help you prepare tasty, nutritious meals for one or two while saving time and money, reducing waste and keeping your healthy diet in check.

Use your freezer.

Big batch cooking isn’t just for big families. If you’ve been avoiding cooking a favorite recipe just because it makes six servings, go ahead and cook it just for you. Portion the leftovers into containers, seal tightly, label with the date and freeze for up to two months. Storing your food this way will help with portion control too—you can’t have an extra helping if it’s frozen solid!

Also take advantage of your freezer to reduce your produce waste. Bananas, strawberries, broccoli and carrots can easily be frozen and used in things like smoothies and soups. Just wash, peel and chop if necessary and store in an airtight bag in the freezer.

Invest in small appliances. 

Use some of that money you’ve saved by eating in and buy a few small appliances. A mini food processor, blender and juicer will not only make cooking a breeze by shortening the preparation process, but might also expand your menu options to include items sure to liven up any menu—pureed soups, smoothies, fresh juices, dips and more. And don’t forget about a toaster oven, which preheats in a flash and can be used to cook personal pizzas, salmon and other toasty treats.

Take advantage of bulk bins. 

As a single, you may skip your grocer's bulk bins altogether. But bulk bin sections are perfect for the single shopper. Offering shelf-stable foods like grains, cereal, flour, granola, dried fruits, nuts, soup mixes, dried beans and legumes, these self-serve stations are often cheaper than the packages you buy in the grocery store. Plus, you can fill your bag or container with the exact amount of food you need—avoiding waste and saving money.

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 two hours of cooking.
  • Discard leftovers if the food has been sitting at room temperature for more than one hour.
  • Eat or freeze leftovers within three to five days.
  • Eat frozen leftovers within two 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 carryout 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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Member Comments

Thank you Report
Good tips Report
thanks for sharing Report
Apartment has refrigerator/free
zer side by side. No room for storage Report
Good article. Thank you. Report
I often enjoy cooking, even if for just one. I often challenge myself to make several meals out of one cooking time and freezing meals for those occasions when I work later than planned or may not really feel motived. Plus if I have a ready made meal at home it is easier to talk myself out of stopping somewhere unhealthy for a quick meal or ordering delivery. Some good suggestions in this article. Thanks Report
I always do batch cooking for myself. I love having leftovers and it’s so easy to add vegetables to protein that’s been cooked ahead. When all else fails, soup is a great way to convert all those odds and ends into another meal. With good planning and advance preparation I am rarely tempted by takeout Report
Great info Report
thank you Report
Thanks so much for the great planning ideas! I will definitely buy in bulk and separate as well as cook for more than one and freeze and measure the leftovers. This info helps me a great deal! Report
Good ideas Report
Great article for the single person. Report
Good ideas. Thanks. Report
Healthier than eating out / take out! Report


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.