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4 tips for cooking for one

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A man cooking in his kitchen.

The single face a significant challenge with their food budget: How to make cooking for one economical.

Actually, let me re-phrase that. It’s not that cooking for one isn’t economical. The real problem is motivation. Setting aside time and having the desire to cook when you’re the only one eating is more of a hurdle.

The things that trip us up are:

  • Eating out (not economical)
  • Eating poorly (scarfing a sandwich while standing over the sink)
  • Frozen meals (trust me; you can do better)

To counter those tendencies, you need a few things in your repertoire that taste great, keep well, freeze well, and that you won’t get tired of, even if you have to eat them several days in a row. Here are a few tips to help you stretch your “single” dollars.

Make soup.

Soup is fairly easy to make and should not be expensive. Most soups freeze well, and they make packing lunch for the office a snap. Once you start making your own soup and realizing how much better it tastes, you’ll positively never, ever want soup from a can again. Get two or three soup recipes in your rotation and you’ll build in some nice variety.

Plan for the sequel.

You should plan your meals like a movie director who knows from the very start there will be a sequel to the first film. If you make a main course like chicken, pork or beef over the weekend, consider how you can mix it up with the leftovers. Saturday’s steak becomes Monday’s salad topping or fajita filling. Sunday’s roast chicken becomes the basis for Tuesday’s chicken-broccoli casserole, chicken a la king, or chicken salad. “Cooking once and eating twice” is a common theme in food and family magazines. You can get good ideas by browsing there.

Breakfast for dinner.

No where is it written that eggs must be eaten before 12 noon. Scrambled or poached eggs, omelets, pancakes, etc. make great dinners, and it costs just pennies to put them on the table.

Plan your shopping.

I find this one especially challenging, but I know I would cut my spending, shop less, and waste less food if I planned ahead before going shopping. Trying to plan meals one week at a time makes a lot more sense than day by day. You’ll reduce your tendency for impulse purchases, make it easier to track your expenses, and recover precious hours spent wandering the aisles of grocery stores.

Whether you’re single, divorced, widowed, an empty nester, or on your own for the first time, you still need to eat, and you might as well eat well. You can do it without breaking the bank!