Living alone has many benefits, quiet and peace whenever you need it, order and undisturbed organization, and room to relax and stretch out. But some things, like cooking, are just more fun when you have someone to share them with.
Cooking for guests usually evokes accomplishment and a sense of pride. But it can feel more like a chore, when you are cooking for yourself. On top of that, a busy lifestyle that includes any combination of work, childcare, school and exercise can make it difficult to prepare or plan healthy meals.
The following hints will help you prepare nutritious but tasty meals for one or two while saving money and time, keeping your healthy diet in check and reducing waste.
Save Money and Time, Reduce Waste
Use your freezer. You were wrong if you think that big batch cooking is just for big families. Go ahead and cook a favorite recipe, just for you, even it makes six servings. Portion the leftovers into containers, label with the date, seal tightly and freeze for up to two months. You can’t have an extra helping if it’s frozen solid, but storing your food this way will help with portion control too!
Also take advantage of your freezer to reduce your produce waste. Strawberries, bananas, carrots and broccoli can easily be frozen and used in things like soups and smoothies. Just wash, chop or peel if necessary, and store in the freezer in an airtight bag.
Invest in small appliances. Use some of that money you’ve saved by eating in and buy a few small appliances. A mini blender, food-processor and juicer will not only make cooking a breeze by shortening the preparation process, but might also expand your menu options to dips, pureed soups, fresh juices, smoothies and more. Also don’t forget about a toaster oven, which preheats in a flash and can be used to cook salmon, personal pizzas and other toasty treats.
Take advantage of bulk bins. You may skip your grocer’s bulk bins altogether, as a single, but bulk bin sections are perfect for the single shopper. Offering shelf-stable foods like flour, granola, grains, dried fruits, cereal, nuts, dried beans, legumes and soup mixes, these self-serve stations are often cheaper than the packages you buy in the grocery store. Plus, avoiding waste and saving money, you can fill your bag or container with the exact amount of food you need.
Plan your meals. Monday’s rice and roasted chicken can become Wednesday’s homemade chicken broth and vegetable soup with rice. Menu planning isn’t just for the ultra-organized, just jot down a few dishes that you’d like to make in the upcoming week and then think about how you can use up the inevitable leftovers in other meals. Make a plan when you’ll have time to make and eat all the meals on your list, put together a shopping list for the necessary ingredients, and you’re set!
With a dash of motivation and pinch of planning, cooking solo can be easy and fun, benefiting your bank account and your body.