Cooking for one person – 14 Questions Answered

So, you’re single and trying to eat healthily but cooking for one person seems like more trouble than it’s worth. You got questions…I’ve got answers!

Cooking for one person
Cooking for one person

When starting down a new path in life, there are always questions.  The problem, at least for me, is I feel dumb when I ask them. I feel like people who would have the answers, those “In The Know” are looking down at me and wondering why I would attempt this when it’s obvious that I don’t even have the most rudimentary skills to make it happen.

Is this the truth?  Probably not but all it takes is that one person to make us feel like we would never be able to pull this off, right?

I’m here to tell you that you can do it and I’d like to help!  I’ve got answers to 14 common questions about how to get started on this journey to eat healthier and be successful cooking for one.

What Should I Eat If I Live Alone?

What Should I Eat When Living Alone?
What Should I Eat When Living Alone?

What do single people eat?

Generally speaking, people who live alone tend to have poorer eating habits than those who don’t, men to a greater degree than women.  I’m not throwing shade here, it’s just a fact.

Why?  Theories abound but it seems most singles agree that it’s harder to keep fruits and vegetables fresh until they can be used and it’s harder to purchase portions of fresh food sized for a single person.

And let’s not forget accountability…it’s easier to eat cake for dinner when there’s no one there to see you do it.

What should I eat if I’m single?

I’m not crazy about the wording of this question because it seems to indicate that there are things we are “allowed” to eat and things we are “not allowed” to eat.

We should be striving to add more whole foods to our diets and cutting back on empty calories as well as processed foods but let’s face facts: There will absolutely be (the very occasional) times when you’re going to eat cake for dinner.  And that’s ok.

What can I cook that’s healthy?

What can I cook that's healthy?
What can I cook that’s healthy? 

What is a healthy dinner?

There’s no one-size-fits-all healthy meal.  People have different likes, different eating habits and different beliefs on what is ethical food.  Based on what our bodies need to thrive, a meal should consist of protein, fruits and/or veggies, complex carbs and calcium.  And don’t forget that a tad bit of fat helps your body absorb all those nutrients!

How do single people eat healthily?

It’s easier to eat healthy when you have the healthy foods you need right on hand. Whether you like to shop for groceries daily, weekly or monthly, make sure you go with a  meal plan in mind and a list in hand.

Take advantage of the butcher, seafood and deli counters to get the exact amount of product you’ll want to eat.  Shop for loose fruits and veggies in produce and don’t hesitate to ask the clerks in produce and meat if you can get portions smaller than the packages that are on the shelf.  Lastly, check-in the frozen aisle for healthy foods that will keep for a while in your freezer!

How do I cook when living alone?

How do you cook when living alone?
How do you cook when living alone?

What are the easiest things to cook?

There are plenty of simple recipes out there that just take just a few minutes to prepare such as spinach feta pizza and pan-seared scallops.  You could also just Google “simple meals to make” to get some great ideas as well!

How can I simplify cooking?

One of the easiest ways to simplify cooking, in my opinion, is to make something once and use it (at least) twice.  Make creamed spinach for a side to your steak and use the leftovers for eggs florentine. Dill Greek yogurt dip is great for dipping some veggies while watching your favorite movie but it’s also great as a chicken marinade or in egg salad!

You’d be surprised how easy it is to whip up something delightful when you have a good selection of condiments and spices.  Szechuan-style shrimp? Nothing but shrimp, rice and condiments. You can pick these spices and condiments up as you go along so don’t hesitate to invest in a new spice or additional type of mustard. These things have a long shelf life and come in handy when you’re on a mission to “throw something together”!

What should I cook for one person?

What should I cook for one person?
What should I cook for one person? 

What should I make for dinner for one person?

I think too many people feel like cooking for one person is somehow different than cooking for an entire family.  It’s exactly the same. Oh, the proportions may need to be adjusted but that’s it. Spaghetti and meatballs? Just cook 2 ounces of spaghetti (the end of the bundle should equal the diameter of a quarter), top with a quarter cup of sauce and a few meatballs.  Viola! Spaghetti for one.

What should I make for lunch for one person?

My favorite lunch for one is a repeat of what was for dinner.  It was good then, right? Well, it’s good now, too!

What about breakfast?

What I make for breakfast is varied depending on whether I have to work or not.  If I have to be up and out in a hurry (because, let’s face it. We’re always in a hurry in the morning, right?) I’ll go for a very quick smoothie or something that I’ve pre-made on my day off, like a breakfast cookie or overnight oats.

If I have the time, I like to make eggs with…well…something.  It depends on my mood.

Sometimes, (I’ll admit it!) I just grab whatever leftover comes to hand, even if it isn’t technically considered to be “breakfast food”.

I guess what I’m saying here is just have something.  While we can’t always make time for breakfast, we can always grab something healthy and eat it on the way. Not hungry? Grab something anyway because I guarantee that you will be. Your body hasn’t had food in 12 hours or more and, if you’re famished by lunch, I also guarantee that take-out is going to look much better than that salad you packed.

What should I cook tonight?

So, it’s happened.  You were busy, you didn’t take the time to plan, you didn’t take anything out of the freezer.  There’s nothing for dinner.

Really? Nothing?

This penne pasta dish comes together in no time flat.  So do scrambled eggs, peanut butter toast or a hummus tabouli wrap.  Just take a deep breath, open your cupboard and your mind.  I promise there’s something to eat!

What can I cook when I run out of ideas?

This is actually one of my favorite things.  Why? Because I get to try something new. First of all, what do you have for ingredients?  Let’s say you have a chicken breast, a potato and some frozen peas. Just Google it! Seriously.  “Chicken potato frozen peas. Enter.” This method has never failed me.

Still got questions?  Ask away in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them!.

All my best


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10 Replies to “Cooking for one person – 14 Questions Answered”

  1. This is a really well put-together article! I can definitely say that I have learned a lot from this single article, the fact that everything in regards to cooking is so diverse is what really allows me to absorb knowledge on a wide array of topics. And in fact, i was lucky because you answered one of my questions which is actually the one about living alone. I am about to move out and have been wondering this myself. So thank you very much !

    1. Thank you for your kind words.  I hope this article will help you build a pantry in your new place.  I wish you all the best!

  2. This is a very wonderful article Cynthia. Thank you for sharing. Although I am not single and live with my fiance, I still find it very hard to motivate myself to cook consistently for the both of us. I have never been big on leftovers, but leftover spaghetti and chili is the bomb, so I try not to make portions that are too big. However my biggest drawback is the prep work and then the cleanup afterwards. I really do enjoy cooking, but it’s always a struggle. A lot of those recipes you listed in the article sounded delicious so I’ll definitely have to check them out.

    1. Cooking every day can be a struggle, whether for one person or more.  I certainly hope you find some inspiration on my site.  Please let me know which ones you have tried and which ones you like best!

  3. There are really a lot of questions to ask and answer when cooking for oneself. The desire to want to know if all that is been done is okay and alright brings about lots of questions popping in one’s head and flashing through one’s mind. Well, thanks for writing this article to deal with some of the most important questions there is to ask and how to find the answers to them. I did learn something fantastic from reading this article.

  4. Yesterday, my son asked me this: how can I eat healthy while being single. I answered “Buy a bag of the spinach or romaine salad greens for the most nutrition, then add any or all of the following:
    Dried fruit.
    Roasted nuts.
    Ready-to-go veggies like cherry or grape tomatoes; sugar snap peas; sliced, shredded, or baby carrots.
    Canned beans (kidney, black, or garbanzo).
    Water-packed tuna.”

    1. Abel, it sounds like you’re on the right track AND setting a good example for your son!  I like the way you think.

  5. Enjoyed you answering some of life’s essential and mundane questions. I am not single but often struggled with the questions you answered in this post. Cooking for me is sometimes fun but often times daunting and there is the clean-up afterward. Ugh.  

    Love your positive approach to What Should I cook Tonight? section. Been there and often times I do find something worth cooking if I just put a little more effort into it. Thanks!

    1. I’m glad you found this article to be helpful (even if you’re not single!)  Thank you for your comments.

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