It can be hard to buy food for just one person, let alone cook for only one, and much of the advice about cooking for one makes it seem like an onerous task. Luckily, I have a few fresh ideas that your clients will love...
Tip #1: Take It Out
If you're only cooking for yourself, then you're the boss. Consider purchasing a few prepared, ready-right-now foods from your favorite store or restaurant. Dress them up with a side of fruit or a salad -- or both.
For example, did you know that Whole Foods has a hot and cold buffet? It's easy to grocery shop and choose some take out at the same time!
Tip #2: Stock the Freezer
The freezer is your friend. By purchasing ready-to-eat cuts of fish, meat, and poultry, you can freeze them so that they're standing by and ready to cook when you need them.
Follow the directions on the package so that you don’t overcook them. The golden rule for cooking a piece of fish or chicken in the oven is to let it spend about 20 minutes at 375 degrees as long as it has been thawed first. (Thawing is easy - use the defrost button on the microwave).
Frozen rice and frozen veggies also reheat nicely.
Tip #3: Cook In a Batch
If you love to cook certain foods like chili, spaghetti bolognese, or lasagna, that's great! Make a big batch, and then when it's time to freeze the leftovers for later, divide what's left into single portions before wrapping it up. That way, your leftovers will be ready to reheat and eat the next time you have a hankering for them, without all the pressure of huge servings for multiple people.
Tip #4: Keep Sizes Small
When it comes to fresh fruits and veggies, be selective. Choose foods that are in season so that you get a variety of delicious produce that is at its prime. Remember, you don't need a lot, so just buy one or two of each food.
Once you get home, put your purchases in prominent places on your counter or in your refrigerator. That way, you won't forget about them.
Is fruit getting too ripe too fast? No worries! Make a smoothie for breakfast or dessert, or pop the rest in the freezer for later.
You can also purchase double-duty greens that are good either in fresh salads or steamed later. Arugula, spinach, and kale are all popular options for this. Sometimes it's also fun to buy a salad kit because it's small and packaged to last.
If you're purchasing dairy products, think small too. It's better to go back to the store every few days for milk, yogurt, and other staples than to throw a bunch of food away.
Tip #5: Have Emergency Meals Handy
No matter how many people you're cooking for, you'll have a day when you're either famished or pressed for time. Here are ideas for foods that freeze well and reheat fast:
- Frozen ravioli
- Fresh soup
- Seasoned chicken or fish
- Prepared foods from the take-out counter
Tip #6: Get Pantry Helpers
Canned beans are your best friend! You can make quick one-pot chili, tacos, burritos, or salad with them.
Nut butters help you make a sandwich really fast.
And oatmeal is great any time of day -- from breakfast through dessert.
And there you have it! A few tips and tricks that you can use to help your audience prepare healthful meals for one. To share this info, don't miss the printable handout I designed to accompany this post!
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.