When you live by yourself, ordering takeout or heating up frozen dinners sounds a lot easier than cooking for one. And it is, but it’s definitely not healthier or as satisfying as cooking a homemade meal. Yes, it takes time to find a recipe, shop for ingredients, and cook the meal, but you also have the luxury of spending less and cooking whatever your heart desires. It’s well worth the time, money, and effort to have delicious meals all to yourself. Check out these seven easy and healthy ways to cook for one:
- Make multiple meals from one recipe:
If you’re not too keen on the idea of leftovers or simply cannot stomach the same old pot roast day after day, mix it up by creating different meals from the same leftovers. Say you have a dozen leftover grilled shrimp from the night before but don’t want to eat another shrimp taco; you can toss them into a bed of mixed greens and add a splash of vinaigrette for a delicious and healthy salad.
- Freeze individual portions:
Cooking for one isn’t a waste of food once you discover the art of freezing. If you make a casserole or stew, eat what you want and separate the remainders into individual containers that have been dated and place them in the freezer. When you want to eat your leftovers, just thaw and voila! You have a delicious single-serving meal for day or night.
- Use up your extras:
When you’re cooking for one, you’re bound to have extra ingredients that you can’t use. Say you’re making a casserole that uses rice and you cook more than you need, you can save the extra cooked rice and use it in a stir-fry or rice pudding dish later. You can do the same thing with leftover uncooked meat that has been frozen. Use your extras and you’ll save yourself time and money.
- Purchase individually packaged meats:
A good method for cooking healthy, simple meals is to purchase individually packaged meats that you can freeze and thaw out as needed. Individually packaged chicken breasts and fish filets are easy to thaw, season, and cook for a single meal or multiple meals that can be eaten for a few days.
- Make one-pot meals:
Cut your cleanup in half by using one pot or pan to make your meals. Instead of pan frying a chicken breast by itself and sautéing veggies in another pan, combine the flavors by cooking them together. An even easier method is to wrap meat and vegetables in foil packets and pop them into the oven. Try salmon drizzled with olive oil, lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Pair with asparagus for the ultimate heart-healthy meal.
- Stock your pantry:
When you cook for yourself, it’s important to make sure your pantry is stocked with the ingredients you need to make simple, healthy meals. On your next trip to the store, stock up on canned vegetables, beans, dry fruits, quinoa, pastas, barley, and other basics that can be used to make a quick dish when you’re running low on other ingredients. Mayo Clinic recommends rinsing canned foods under cold water to lower their sodium content.
- Turn healthy snacks into meals:
Now, we’re not suggesting you eat a whole can of peanuts for dinner or an entire bag of granola for breakfast. It is completely possible to turn healthy snacks into filling meals, but it’s going to require some variety. For example, you can spread peanut butter, ricotta cheese, or Greek yogurt on a few brown rice cakes and sprinkle fresh strawberries or raisins on top. Depending on your choice of toppings, this snack can be a good source of calcium, protein, and other essential vitamins and minerals.