First published October 2, 2019
Finding the motivation to cook meals for one can be challenging. Many recipes make 4-6 portions, so doing the math to make smaller meals can make buying ingredients a pain. Buying ingredients like fresh fruits and vegetables can seem wasteful, as they often come in large quantities, which may not be eaten in time to avoid spoilage. For cancer survivors, healthy eating is recommended as the best way to reduce your risk of developing cancer again.
To help you achieve this, here are our favorite ways to make cooking for one a breeze:
Create a Meal Plan
Having a rough idea of what you want to eat throughout the week will make it easier to save time and avoid food waste- for example, you may decide to cook some minced meat which can be used in tacos for dinner one evening, and in spaghetti Bolognese the next. Check out our quick guide to setting up your pantry – it will give you a list of healthy kitchen basics to make cooking easy
Bulk cooking frequently-eaten foods will save you time. Grains like quinoa and rice can be cooked in bulk and will keep for two to three days in the fridge in a sealed container or frozen for use at a later date.
Only Buy What You Will Use
Fresh fruits and vegetables often come in large quantities. For items that you know you will not use, consider buying the loose variety- the bumper pack may seem like better value, but it won’t be if you end up throwing it out! Similarly for meat, head to a butchers counter and buy the amount you need for the particular meal you need- butchers will have no problem selling you smaller quantities.
Use Your Freezer
If you know you won’t use what you have bought, consider freezing it. Foods with a high moisture content (such as lettuce and cucumbers) will not freeze well, however most fruit and vegetables can be frozen to use at a later date. Freezing leftover soups or stews turn your freezer into your own private take out. If you are new to freezing our tutorial should help. For certain foods, such as leafy greens, it is important to blanch them prior to freezing- learn how here.
If you are frequently in and out, it may be easier to just buy frozen fruits and vegetables, and just use what you need.
Always remember that recipes are guidelines. If you have half a can of chickpeas, but you need a can you can substitute that for other beans in recipes, or for meat. If you have leftover soup, throw in some frozen veggies or chopped herbs or add a squeeze of lemon juice. This will refresh and jazz up the flavors. Getting creative will help avoid buying ingredients which you don’t use often.
Swap with Friends
Know of someone else also cooking for one? Why not arrange a swap, where you trade a meal with a friend? This will save you money and allow you to broaden your palette- you never know what you will end up discovering!