Cooking for one or two

How to enjoy healthy meals without all the leftover and waste

During a recent Senior Series of Nutrition classes, the discussion arose related to preparing healthy recipes, foods and meals when many seniors are cooking for themselves or possibly two people.   Michigan State University Extension encourages you to consider not only the challenges when cooking for only one or two people, but also the benefits as well. 

  • Homemade meals are usually more nutritious and better tasting than eating out, which is a great health benefit.
  • When cooking for yourself, you can enjoy any foods you like without having to worry if others have the same food preferences as you.  If you love sweet potatoes, then you can prepare and enjoy them.  If you want an omelet with veggies for dinner or reheated chili for breakfast you have the flexibility to eat what you want.  
  • Another benefit of cooking for less people is you can prepare meals ahead, cook once and eat twice (or maybe even three times).  Utilizing your freezer is a great tip when preparing meals and recipes ahead of time.  Using this strategy allows you to turn leftovers into frozen meals that you can enjoy later when you are busy and don’t have time to prepare a meal.
  • Invite a friend, neighbor or family member over to enjoy a meal together if you have a recipe you enjoy preparing and it has larger number of servings.
  • If you want to prepare those favorite family large scale recipes, adapting them is possible.  Start by halving the recipe, adding seasonings gradually and reducing the cooking time.  Check for doneness of the item using a food thermometer since the recipe will likely cook more quickly.

The recipe below is an example of a meal that can easily be cooked and enjoyed now and then turned into a frozen meal for later.


Easy Chicken Pot Pie


Cook time: 45 minutes                   Makes: 6 servings



1 2⁄3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (thawed)
1 cup cooked chicken (cut-up)
1 can cream of chicken soup, low-fat (10-3/4 ounce, condensed)
1 cup baking mix, reduced-fat (example: Bisquick)
1⁄2 cup milk (non-fat)
1 egg



1. Wash hands and any cooking surfaces.

2. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

3. Mix vegetables, chicken and soup in ungreased, 9-inch pie plate

4. Stir remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl with fork until blended. Pour over vegetables and chicken in pie plate.

5. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.


SNAP Ed Recipe Finder, Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, Expanded Nutrition Program


Cooking smaller meals can be done and still allow you to enjoy your favorite recipes and foods.

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