Cooking for One - Tips for Healthy Meals
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
When you prepare meals just for yourself, cooking for one can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. But if you plan ahead and prepare, cooking for yourself can open up a whole new world beyond frozen pizza and instant noodle soup. Here are some tips for making healthy meals for one:
- Keep your pantry and freezer well stocked. Stock your freezer with loose-pack frozen veggies and fruits, shrimp and individual chicken breasts. If you’ve got whole-grain noodles, quick-cooking brown rice, and canned beans, broth, tomato sauce, tuna and salmon in the pantry, you can put together something in no time.
- Turn leftovers into makeovers. If you’re grilling chicken, make extra and add it to tomorrow’s pasta. If you’re cooking some fish, make enough to fold into some corn tortillas with salsa for fish tacos tomorrow night.
- Have breakfast for dinner. There’s no rule that says you have to eat “dinner food” for dinner. Why not try a veggie omelet for dinner with a piece of fruit?
- Find some one-dish meals that you like. Soups, stews and casseroles can be a balanced meal of protein and veggies and healthy starch, all in one dish.
- Plan to use it or lose it. Plan ways to make the best use of perishable items, like veggies. If you buy a big bundle of asparagus and only cook half, you’ll probably end up throwing the other half away. Instead, cook it all and have half for tonight’s side dish, and toss the rest into tomorrow’s main-dish salad.
- Adjust recipes when you need to. Most recipes are for 4-6 people, but you can usually cut most in half without any adjustments. On the other hand, if you’re going to go to the trouble of cooking something, you might just want to make the full amount and freeze the leftovers.
- Organize a potluck. If you know other people who frequently eat alone, try organizing a potluck. If everyone brings something and swaps the leftovers, you’ll get more variety, and it’s a lot more fun than eating by yourself.