Learning to cook for one

Cooking tips for one to avoid food waste.

There are circumstances that make it necessary for people to learn how to cook for one person. This can be a difficult and frustrating task, as most recipes feed four to six people. Michigan State University Extension can provide ideas and tips to help you think smarter about meal planning.

You are no longer a child, and mom does not cook for you. Maybe your children have all moved away, and you and your spouse are empty nesters. You are recently widowed, and the children live far away. These are all circumstances that subject us to learning how to cook for one person. Dining at restaurants alone is not an option, as this is expensive and less healthy. In order to train our brains to think smaller in terms of meal planning, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of cooking for one, and then review cooking tips to help you get started.

  • No one will complain about your cooking
  • You can flavor foods according to your taste buds
  • You eat on your schedule
  • Less dishes to wash
  • Less expensive to eat healthier
  • Visiting the grocery store often to purchase fresh produce
  • Spending more money to purchase foods that cost more in smaller amounts (ex. bread, milk)
  • You may need more freezer space than usual
  • Budgeting is essential to prevent over buying sale items
  • There is no one to help you cook or clean
Tips on cooking for one

Cook a meal for four and eat it throughout the week, or freeze half in individual containers. You can also divide recipes in half – just be sure to adjust cooking time also. Shopping at a bulk food store allows you to purchase the exact quantity needed. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh, and can used in the amount needed for a meal. Purchase berries in season and on sale, and freeze them until needed. Prepare easily spoiled produce first (i.e. lettuce, zucchini and spinach), then focus on produce with some staying power (i.e. cabbage, carrots and potatoes). Purchase family pack meats, and freeze them in portion sizes. Pre-form ground meats into patties, and freeze until ready to be used. Use a crock pot or slow cooker for any sized meal. Prepare a large salad that will last for a few meals.

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