Trying to start a new program of healthy cooking for one? Old habits die hard but here are a few tips to help get you back on track to start eating healthier!
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!”? (Yes, I’m kidding. Here’s why gas stations started selling food).
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 week of quick breakfasts.
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 for 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. 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 you’re 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 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 as 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!