Healthy Cooking for One — How to Create a New You

We’ve all seen him. That guy in the checkout line at the grocery store, the one we know is single and lives alone. 4 frozen dinners, 1 deli sandwich, 6-pack of beer and an economy sized bag of Cheetos.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just because we’re single, it doesn’t mean we’re doomed to a future of breakfast cereal, frozen pizza for one and Ramon noodles.

Nor must we choose drive thrus or gas station hot dogs (I often who came up with THAT idea. Like, was someone pumping their gas and suddenly thought, “Well, this makes me want to eat a smoked sausage!”?)

We have a choice. I’d like to share a few things that I’ve picked up along the way to make cooking for one a bit easier and, hopefully, a little more fun.

Healthy Ways Start to Your Day

Running late this morning? Always keep some bananas, frozen strawberries and yogurt on hand to make a smoothie. It just takes a minute and you can drink it on your way to work!

Overnight oats are convenient and the flavor combos are endless so you’ll never get bored. They can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge so go ahead and throw together a few one evening for a quick breakfast.

Everybody loves Sunday morning breakfast! Make a crustless quiche to enjoy with a leisurely cup of coffee and the newspaper. Store a few pieces in the fridge up to 5 days for a healthy lunch and put the rest in the freezer for another time!

Play It Again, Sam

No big plans for your day off? Make a big pot of spaghetti sauce and freeze it in portions for use another day. Might as well freeze up a batch of meatballs to go with it, too!

A dozen mini pork pies make a great grab and go lunch (or, rather 12!).

Make a dinner recipe that serves two and take the leftovers for lunch. Or make a recipe that serves three or four and have some left for an easy meal later in the week.

Try this Szechuan style shrimp or garlic chicken with caramelized mushrooms and onions. They’re easy to put together and any leftovers you don’t use can be put in the freezer for a future meal!

Make connected meals. For example, when making potatoes for garlic chicken, do a few extra and use the leftovers to go with Korean beef (instead of cooking rice).

Or save some potato cubes unmashed to make potato salad. While your boiling the eggs for the potato salad, throw in a few extra for egg salad.

And always, always, make extra rice to package up in single serving sizes and store in the freezer!

Strategic Contingency Planning

It happens. You get stuck working late, encounter a major traffic jam on the way home or get caught up in a lengthy conversation with a friend. Then it’s too late to cook that dinner you had planned or you’re just too tired.

Make sure you’ve stocked up on a few items that are have a decent shelf life and are quick and easy to throw together.

Eggs, cheese, peanut butter and pasta are excellent choices, as are crackers, rice and bread (store this double wrapped in the freezer if you need to!). Frozen fruits and vegetables require no prep at all so they can easily be used in a pinch.

Think of ways to be creative!

Decide to go to the farmers market, choose something you haven’t had before then go home and create a meal.

No, honestly, I “wing” a lot of my recipes and it always turns out fine. Ok, almost always. There was the “Fennel Incident”. Fennel, as it turns out, tastes like black licorice. Gross. Who knew?

Dress up your go-to meals. Grilled cheese? Mix it up with a two cheese combo, mustard and a couple of pickle slices. Add a splash of cream and some croutons to your tomato soup. Swap out the ketchup on your burger for some thousand island dressing.

Presto Chango! Leftovers don’t have to be the same thing that they were when they were originally left over. (Say THAT 5 times fast!) Pair the grilled chicken and roasted carrots you had last night with chopped onion, soy sauce, leftover rice and – BOOM! – a delicious (and definitely not leftover) stir-fry.

Riddle Me This

Who do you have to answer to anyway? Cooking for just you allows you to eat what you want, when you want, using whatever ingredients you want and as spicy (or not) as you want.

Who’s gonna even know? So what if that tuna and spaghetti thing didn’t measure up to your expectations? I’m not gonna tell and you don’t have to either!

No one’s watching, right? Pour a glass of wine, turn up the 80’s pop music and have a dance party in your pajamas while cooking pasta for the 3rd day in a row. Because you can.

Life is what you make it so make it good. Be brave, be bold, be empowered. And above all, have fun.

What are your thoughts on cooking for one? What are your favorite recipes and strategies? Let me know in the comments below!

Cynthia

Cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

16 Replies to “Healthy Cooking for One — How to Create a New You”

  1. Lot’s of great ideas for cooking for one! I think it is so important to remember that the investment in time spent cooking a wholesome meal is not wasted if there are leftovers! So many don’t actually eat their leftovers and end up tossing it all…. that’s when time and money are wasted. But a few extra minutes in the kitchen one night can quickly mean that you don’t need to spend any time the next night!

  2. Wow! How much energy and vibes one can get from eating a good food is underrated and this post has done quite enough just to expatiate more on that. I truly like every bit of what you have explained here. Treating oneself to something worthwhile and eating to peak of satisfaction would fulfill the inner peace and give joy undeniable. Thanks for this

  3. Cynthia, I love these ideas for single living, and the great thing about single living you can eat what you like and you don’t have to worry about what to cook each night for the family. If you want to eat spaghetti and mince for three days running then you can without answering to anyone.

    I especially enjoyed your tip of doubling up things like potatoes when you cook them and use the extra for potato salad another day or even in a soup or mashed on another. If you do food like this ahead of time, you are less likely to eat rubbish as you know what you have ready for you in your fridge.

    1. Thank you for your words of encouragement!  I have struggle hard with the “eating for one” delemma and have really hoped that this website could help people face their own struggles with it.  Please keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing!

  4. My husband travels frequently and is away for a month or two. I have noticed that I start eating unhealthily as soon as I am left alone. I just stop cooking and start ordering fast food and gain weight every time. Your article will help me continue to eat healthy during this period, as well. Thanks a lot for all the suggestions.

    1. I’m glad I could help.  The fast food trap is an easy one to fall into (I have a leaning towards Big Macs) but we can get past it!  Please let me know how things go for you and if you have any tips you’d like to add.

  5. Thanks for this post with many great ideas! I love the idea of making a couple extra potatoes or thinking ahead and freezing leftovers. So often, leftovers go to waste for different reasons. One being that people get tired of eating the same thing night after night. By freezing them when they are fresh, you can choose when you want to eat it again! I love your back-up ideas for healthy eating when time just gets away. These are easy things to always have on hand that will work in a pinch!

    1. Ashley, thank you for your comments and I’m happy that I may have given you a few ideas!  I have a freezer full of different items so life never gets boring!  I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how it goes for you!

  6. I love this article about healthy eating and cooking! I love to cook all the time, so this is great for me. Definitely a brilliant topic to choose, as anyone can do it. 

    Cooking can be made so easy if you just put in a tiny amount of effort. You’re food can taste one hundred times better and healthier too. 

    Love the detail you go to, and the quirky content makes for a really good read. Thanks 

    Darren

    1. Darren, thanks for the support and words of encouragement.  I love to cook and I love to share with others who may think it’s “over their heads”.  Once you try it, you realize that it can be quite simple.  

  7. Hi Cynthia, I really like the idea of these simple recipes, I always end up taking the same things to work for lunch which is normally packet microwave rice or a sandwich, the thing is I live on my own so I don’t see the point in cooking anything even though I used to enjoy it. 

    I’m gonna give some serious thought on your recipes, who knows, it might get me serious again about preparing fresh meals.

    Thanks for your post,

    Pete 👍

    1. Hey, Pete, thank you for your kind words.  I hope you’ll “take a chance” on cooking again!  Let me know how it goes!

  8. Hello Cynthia, 

    You made me remember my days as a single, the grocery was my friend. I would visit the grocery every Saturday in preparation for the next week ahead.
    Thanks for your touch of creativity on how to eat healthily, you considered different case scenario, from Sunday morning breakfast, after working late al through the day and even when one decides to change to the farmers market, you took your time to help out with the different scenario.
    Thanks a lot

    1. It’s fun to take a pleasant trip down memory lane I’m so happy you enjoyed the article and thank you for your encouraging words!

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