Cooking for One: 4 Tips from SupperworksKW
Sometimes it seems like cost-effective meal planning and preparation is designed with only families in mind, and it can be difficult to prepare nutritious, cost-effective meals if you’re only cooking for one. Saving money and making delicious meals for one (that don’t require you to eat leftovers all week!) requires some planning, but it can be done!
Here are my top tips for designing meal plans for one. Next time you find yourself heading for a drive-thru after work, see if one of these tips will work for you instead.
Plan ahead to use up perishable ingredients
Save money by minimizing your food waste. Many meals require you to open a can of perishable food (such as legumes or vegetables), but might only use a small portion of the can’s contents for your recipe. Don’t let the rest of that can of chickpeas be forgotten in the back of your fridge! With a little planning you can avoid food waste by planning your meals to use up leftover perishable ingredients that could quickly go bad. When you choose a meal to prepare, identify any ingredients, such as canned goods or fresh produce, that might leave you with extras. Then, deliberately plan a meal or two that will use up leftover ingredients.
Buy spices and other non-perishables at bulk foods stores to save money.
Bulk food stores aren’t just for massive purchases; they also allow you to purchase only the amounts you need, which can be a cost-effective way of acquiring expensive ingredients in small amounts. Many people cooking for just themselves are often deterred by the presence of spices, nuts, dried fruit, and other seasoning ingredients in their chosen recipes. Ingredients like this can be expensive when purchased from a grocery store, especially if a recipe requires a spice you don’t often use. Avoid this issue by purchasing spices and seasonings at bulk food stores. These stores eliminate the cost of packaging, while also allowing you to customize the amount you’re purchasing.
Find leftovers you’ll love
One of the most common complaints I hear from people cooking for one is that they hate making large, family-sized recipes and eating the same leftovers for a week. However, high-yield recipes can be a valuable meal planning tool! Find two or three recipes you love, and freeze leftovers in individual portions. Large recipes, such as lasagna or chili, thaw from frozen nicely, and will stay delicious in your freezer for up to three months. You’ll look forward to eating leftovers if it’s a meal you enjoy.
Think outside of recipes
If you’re fairly confident with your cooking skills, consider going off-script and building flexible dishes (like custom salads, pastas, and stews) around ingredients that you love so that you can tailor the portion size to your needs. For example, if you love building salads, consider keeping salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, sunflower seeds, and your favourite dressing on hand. Use up remaining perishable ingredients in your fridge by keeping pasta noodles and sauce on hand, and including the perishable ingredients in your fridge that need to be used up.
At Supperworks, we know how tricky it can be to plan meals for one, which is why we offer single portion versions of many customer favourites. Visit our menu to see our most recent meal-for-one options, and follow my blog to make sure you never miss a meal planning tip.