18 Essential Tips For Cooking For One


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As fun and creative as cooking can be, it can be tough to get your chef hat on when you’re only


making meals

for yourself. But don’t let bulk ingredients, family-sized recipes, and crazy amounts of leftovers scare you into another night of cereal or popcorn. With the right tools and tips, it is possible to cook up a single-serving storm (and love doing it, too).

“It’s important to everyone to have basic cooking skills,” says


Dana Angelo White

, M.S., R.D. “It’s all too easy to fall into a trap of ordering take out every night, which is no good for your wallet or your waistline.” Hear that. (PS: Have you signed up for the


#NoTakeoutChallenge

?) To avoid becoming a victim of your go-to delivery app again, consider these 18 tips that’ll make cooking for uno a breeze.

Shopping

1. Plan your meals out ahead of time…

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Meal planning can take a lot of the stress out of cooking for one. “You can choose recipes that use similar ingredients so that food isn’t wasted,” says


Katie Cavuto

, M.S., R.D. For example, if you’ve been itching to make a dish with butternut squash, think of a couple of other meals you can use the ingredient in, too.

2. …So you don’t over-buy at the grocery store.

Planning ahead can help prevent over-the-top impulse buys. “Don’t over-do it,” says Cavuto. “Pick one or two vegetables and proteins you can utilize throughout the week.” As tempting as it might be to grab everything that sounds appealing, save some things for the next week.

3. When you’re shopping, head for the bulk bins and buy only what you need.

Although buying in bulk isn’t a great idea for solo diners, shopping from the bulk

bins

is. It allows you to take only as much as you need. This lets you customize the quantity you plan to purchase, explains Cavuto. This is way more efficient than buying a pre-packaged ingredient you

know

you won’t use up.

4. And don’t rule out frozen fruits and vegetables.

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“Frozen fruits and vegetables are great options,” says


Elaine Magee

, M.P.H., R.D., wellness services corporate dietitian for Albertsons Companies. Boil, steam, or use veggies in a recipe, and toss fruits into smoothies or oatmeal. “You can use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer without any worry of waste,” she adds.

5. Buy single servings at the meat or seafood counter.

Steer clear of packaged meats made for bigger recipes and ask for a smaller portion at the counter. This way you’ll get exactly the amount you’re looking for.

6. Consider produce shopping at a farmer’s market.

The beauty of shopping for fresh food at the farmer’s market is that you can buy exactly how much you need. And it’s typically not crazy expensive, either. (Not to mention, there’s nothing better than straight-from-the-farm produce.)

Cooking

7. Stick with meals made up of individual ingredients.

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“You can cook a small amount of a grain or pasta as well as a single serving of fish, chicken, or steak,” says Cavuto. “Even vegetables can be easily prepared for one!” When each element of your meal is individual, you have more control over how much you’re cooking.

8. And mix up your spices and marinades to avoid boredom.

Just because you’re eating, say, chicken every night doesn’t mean you have to be eating the

same

chicken. “Mix up your flavor profiles,” says Cavuto. For example, “A piece of roasted salmon can take on an entirely different vibe depending on the spice blend or marinade you choose.” If cooking for one leaves you feeling bored with your ingredients for the week, expand your horizons with different preparations.

9. You can also amp up easy single-serving recipes.

Everyone has their standard dinner-for-one dishes, but give your go-tos new life by adding in new ingredients or presentations. “Think about how creative you can be just making quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, and salads,” says Magee. She suggests making a healthy topping baked potato “bar” on your plate, or giving your grilled cheese a grown-up twist. (Try flavorful ingredient add-ins or drizzle a little truffle oil on top.)

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10. Or cut a big recipe in half.

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Don’t be afraid to cut your favorite recipe in half to scale back on leftovers. “If the recipe calls for a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, you can usually cut the ingredients in half and use an 8 x 8-inch baking dish,” says Magee. (It’ll probably cook faster so don’t forget to take that into account.) “For recipes likes stews and chili, you can usually cut the ingredients in half and use a smaller size pot.”

11. Don’t try to scale back a large recipe to a single-serving one, though.

“It’s not a great idea to try and scale down a recipe from eight servings to one,” says White. “Aside from annoying math, there’s a good chance the proportion of ingredients will be off and the final product will suffer.” Stick with halving recipes, and embrace the leftovers—after all, it’s your delicious creation!

12. But you can still cook in batches.

Don’t be afraid of batch cooking with versatile ingredients you use all the time, says Cavuto. “One cup of cooked quinoa can be turned into a savory side dish, a breakfast cereal, and a grain salad for lunch.” It’ll save you time cooking, and you’ll always have your go-to ingredients on hand.

Leftovers And Storing

13. Make sure it’s not out of sight, out of mind.

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This is the oldest trick in the book, but it’s especially important when you’re cooking for one and trying to avoid waste. “For fresh fruits and vegetables, buy just what you need every few days and keep them front and center on your kitchen counter or in your refrigerator so you remember they’re there,” says Magee.

14. Store individual ingredients in the freezer…

The freezer is a beautiful thing. Aside from fruits and veggies, you can store raw and cooked meats, as well as breads and baked goods—totally game changing when you’re not about to buy package of tortillas or loaf of bread for one. “Breads and baked goods can go bad before you have a chance to use them all, but they freeze beautifully,” says White.

15. As well as cooked meals.

“Invest in some great freezer and microwave-friendly single-serving containers for your leftovers,” says Magee. “This way you can also store a couple servings of your leftovers in your freezer for next week.” Boom, it’s DIY frozen dinners.

16. Get creative with your leftovers.

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Leftovers can take on new lives in different dishes, especially when you’re using individual ingredients. Same base, totally different meals. “[Leftovers] can be morphed into meals for later in the week. Monday’s chicken fajitas can turn into Tuesday’s stir fry with brown rice,” says White. White suggests making a homemade pizza at the end of the week with leftovers.

17. And plan on bringing last night’s dinner for lunch.

A homemade meal trumps unpredictable cafeteria food. “You can plan to have (and look forward to) tonight’s dinner leftovers for lunch tomorrow,” says Magee. “Make it easy by putting the leftovers directly into the container you can easily take to work and reheat in the microwave.” No fuss, no muss.

18. Most importantly, enjoy yourself.

Cooking for one really doesn’t have to be a pain. “Food is an outlet for creativity,” says White. “Try to recreate a favorite restaurant dish, update a family recipe, or hit up the farmers’ market for inspiration. Cooking for yourself also allows you to adjust everything to your exact preferences. Spicy, mild, acidic—whatever


you

like!”

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.self.com


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