Today's post is brought to you by Camille, intern with dailyServing and Katie Goldberg, RD.
Many of my friends don’t cook, because they don’t want the hassle of cooking for one. They think it’s too much effort, or that they’re not worth the energy. “If I had someone ELSE to cook for, it would make it worth it.”
Who says you need to have a significant other, or a family to make it “worth” cooking?! You’re worth it! Being single in the kitchen comes with many benefits, and the flexibility to eat whatever you want without worrying about anyone else. Once you’ve mastered the task, it will be fun and easy to create healthy meals fit for one without getting bored – or eating the same thing every night of the week!
The first part to master: the shopping. Trust me when I say, it’s a challenge to buy enough variety without over-buying and being wasteful. Start with these shopping tips and you’ll be breezing through the store like a pro in no time:
Shop in the bulk section. I’m not talking about hitting up Costco or Sam’s Club, here. Many grocery stores give you the opportunity to buy products like spices, grains, beans, nuts, and snacks in bulk, which makes it easier for you to buy exactly what you need. Delis and meat counters allow you to buy smaller portions of food. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for one chicken breast or a quarter pound of ground turkey.
Take advantage of the many options available to you. Have problems with milk going bad? When kept refrigerated, milk alternatives like soy, almond, or coconut milk have a longer shelf life than dairy milk. Don't like that? Try buying milk in smaller containers like kids’ milk chugs. It might mean a higher unit price, but you’re saving money in the long run by not throwing anything out.
Getting it Home
Another key part in becoming a master single-chef is spending a little extra time in the kitchen after unpacking your groceries.
Prep, prep, prep! Chop up foods like fresh fruits and veggies as soon as you get home so you’re more apt to use them. Pre-portion them in zip lock baggies or to-go containers so they’re easy to grab on your way out the door, or to cut back on morning prep for an omelet.
Become the Queen (or King) of the freezer. Pre-wrap and freeze half of your loaf of bread when you get home from the store. Keep the other half in the refrigerator. Separate chicken breasts in individual freezer-safe bags so they’re easier to thaw and cook. Make a large batch of grains and freeze them in individual portions for later use. Don’t think you’re going to eat your leftovers? Pack them nicely in a freezer and microwave-safe container to re-heat on nights when you don’t have time to cook.
Getting a Meal
The last, and most rewarding part of cooking for one? Learning how to make that recipe your - well - meal ;)
Substitute. As a single dweller, you probably won’t always have a fridge stocked with a huge variety of produce and odd ingredients. Don’t let that discourage you from trying new recipes. You can often make substitutions that will put your own twist on the dish, or even improve the nutritional quality! I reference this substitutions list all the time.
Make cooking part of your social life. Getting together with friends and offering to cook or host a potluck is a great way to get out of a rut and try new and exciting dishes. Or make it a weekly thing — take turns making new recipes and sharing leftovers with a group of friends.
Getting it Quick
Here are a few of my easy dinner go-to’s if you’re in a hurry:
Omelet with whatever veggies are in the fridge/freezer
1 piece of foil, 1 salmon filet, chopped veggies, EVOO, seasonings
Wrap everything in the foil, bake at 400 until fish is flakey (20 minutes?), and enjoy not doing the dishes :)
Look for stir-fry veggies pre-packaged in produce or the frozen section of the grocery store
Store-bought sauces are quick and easy, but so is homemade. Check out Cook Smarts Guide to Stir Fry, including their basic sauce recipes.
Last night’s leftovers in a sandwich or over a salad
Made really good salmon, grilled veggies, and quinoa last night for dinner? Toss the leftovers over a bed of spinach with some homemade vinaigrette dressing.
Grains + Protein + Greens + Extra Veggies + Savory Sauce
That's my round-up. What are your go-to meals when you’re cooking for one?
Camille is a Dietetic intern working with dailyServing, LLC and Katie Goldberg, RD as part of her supervised practice hours. She is also earning her MBA from Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business and one day hopes to change consumer nutrition choices through affective and informative marketing and education. Camille is an alumna of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and is passionate about cooking, running, traveling, and supporting animal welfare.