When you have spent decades cooking for a houseful of growing children, it can be challenging to scale back your cooking and recipes to feed just yourself. A recipe that fed your family of 4 or 6 could now last you a week. By day 3 you’ve probably lost total interest and by day 4 or 5 it really isn’t safe to eat any longer. The problem is worse when you’re on a fixed budget and there just isn’t money to waste. Cooking for one IS doable though, you just have to know how to plan and make a few adjustments!
Just Say No to TV Dinners and Canned Foods
If you’re feeling lonely or sad, struggling to find your motivation or where you belong at this stage in life, eating a sad frozen tv dinner or can of Chef Boyardee is only going to leave you feeling worse. When you sit down with a healthy, home-cooked meal you’ll not only feel better emotionally, your body will feel better! Many foods can also make you more prone to depression by depriving the brain of certain hormones or by causing overproduction of others (1). Likewise, the absence of vital nutrients while eating a highly processed, high fat diet lowers your mood and leaves you feeling tired and sluggish. If the microwave mac ‘n cheese is calling your name, try this super simple single-serving recipe instead!
Eating home-cooked meals has many health benefits. According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, people who cook more at home consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all. This is critical if you are treating diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Studies have also shown that complex carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods cause inflammation in the brain and can impair brain functioning, even increasing the risk of alzheimer’s (2). Eating out or buying processed foods may be tempting because it’s easy and there’s no waste but it’s not healthy!
Don’t Waste Ingredients – Or Money
Buying individual servings of meat or even produce can be impossible or at the very least, more expensive per unit. Continuing to buy ingredients as packaged or in bulk quantity is okay if you know how to store it properly allowing it to last you weeks, even months.
Most meats can be frozen so buy the bulk package that’s less expensive per pound and freeze it in quart size freezer bags in 1 or 2 portion sizes. When you need a chicken breast for dinner or some ground beef for a taco salad you can pull just the portion you want from the freezer. Bonus – because it’s a small portion it will thaw much faster as well!
The trick to using produce before it rots is knowing how to use ingredients across your meals. For example, you could use half an avocado and a pita in the morning for an Avo-Egg-Breakfast-Pizza then use the other half of the avocado for Avocado Spinach & Strawberry Salad at lunch. Leftover pitas can be used as a dipper in hummus for a snack or as the base for a lunch pizza later in the week. Spinach and strawberries can be blended into a healthy breakfast smoothie or the strawberries can make a tasty Strawberry Salsa for homemade cinnamon tortilla chips (hint: if you have leftover tortillas they can be used for breakfast burritos or in place of bread for sandwiches!). Plan meals around a few ingredients at a time and you’ll enjoy the variety of ways it can be served and waste less food and money.
Now Get Cooking!
Rather than get discouraged trying to cut your favorite recipes down from 6-8 servings to 1-2, check out these helpful websites for a variety of recipes already measured out to feed 1-2 people!