So you’ve embarked on your healthy eating for one journey but what’s the plan, Stan? Do you actually have an actual strategy in place? How are going to achieve that goal?
I promised you hacks and tips on healthy eating for one and I’m here to deliver! These are just a few observations I’ve come across on my journey down this delicious road to the dinner table.
Do with them what you will. Here goes!
What’s In Your Basket? – The Store(y) Starts Here
One of the most difficult parts of eating as a single person is the waste that often comes with it.
Many perishables (especially produce) are sold in larger packages and it’s hard to use them up before their time is up. Here are a few suggestions:
Shop the salad bar. Although the salad bar is not the most economical way to buy groceries, there are times it may come in handy.
Take me, for example. Although I do like the occasional salad, I’m not a salad eater for the most part. After I’ve eaten the one salad I’m going to have for the next month or so, I struggle to find a use for the rest of that lettuce and all those stinkin’ cucumber slices.
This is where the salad bar comes in handy. It’s not just for salad building, either. Browse the salad bar to acquire small amounts of fresh ingredients in any meal you’re planning. There’s no waste and no prep. Win-win.
Pasta. Yes, pasta. You can take out whatever amount you want and just pop that box right back on the shelf where it will wait patiently for next time.
My two favorite ways to serve it are with sauce or as a pasta salad but it’s incredibly versatile.
There are so many shapes and flavors, made from a variety of ingredients (including gluten-free), that the possibilities are endless!
Shelf-stable and frozen items. In the same theme as pasta, there are many healthy items in the store that can be portioned out in varying amounts.
Many things you buy on the shelf have a very long life ahead of them such as nuts, peanut butter and dried fruits.
In the freezer section, you can find vegetables, fruits and loose, unbaked rolls.
Single serving. This is a category that also might appear to be less than economical because single-serve items typically have a higher unit price (cost per ounce, pound, etc.).
But consider that if you buy a bigger unit that you’re not going to finish before it expires, then you’re not saving money at all. Think yogurt, milk, and cereal.
Weekly Meal Prep Ideas – Not So Lazy Sundays
Portion out meat/poultry. As soon as you get home from the store, open up all those packages of meat and separate them into serving-sized portions.
Seal each portion individually in sandwich bags. Then place those bags in a larger freezer bag, label it, date it and pop it in the freezer.
The same goes for ground meats, sausages and hot dogs.
Do some advance prep. Take a look at your meal plan for the week. (You DID make one, right? Good.) Is there anything you can do in advance to make your weekday cooking less stressful?
For example, hardy vegetables (potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, etc.) can be prepped and stored in water for up to a week, while softer vegetables can be done 3-4 days in advance.
Salad dressings and marinades can be also prepared in advance.
Cook ahead. Make a big batch of something (like this classic meatloaf) and freeze it in single-portion sizes.
Things like hearty soups or lasagna freeze well and are easy grab-and-go, one-dish lunches.
Trust me, it will make your exit out the door much smoother on Monday morning.
Think breakfast. French toast, pancakes and waffles can all be made ahead and stored in your freezer, making breakfast a piece of…um…toast! Just pop ‘em in the microwave or toaster for a sweet treat.
This Basic Overnight Oats recipe can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Good Morning, Sunshine! – Tips For Planning Your Day
Don’t overdo it. Take the time to think about how much time you have (or are willing to take) to prepare/cook your meals during the week.
One of the biggest defeats in this game is planning to make a healthy, hearty, home-cooked meal on Tuesday evening (in quadruple to ensure you have extra to freeze up for later), only to realize that you’re too pooped to make it happen once you get home.
Make it easy. Choose easy dinner recipes for one so you don’t have to worry about packaging the leftovers for the freezer. This Spinach Feta Pizza comes together in just a few minutes with very little mess or cleanup!
Do as much advance prep as possible on your free days.
Simple recipes like this Strawberry Banana Yogurt Smoothie make breakfast a snap. Put it in a travel mug to sip on your way to work.
Double up. Choose recipes that specifically serve two or three like this simple Szechuan Style Shrimp. By making a meal you can eat a number of times during the week, you free up some spare time to get the laundry done, call a friend or just chill.
It’s Not Over (‘Till It’s Over)
This is not an exhaustive list, just a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas and what you’ve learned on your journey as well! I look forward to reading your comments below!
All my best,