COOKING FOR ONE
If you live by yourself and find it difficult to cook for one without wasting food, spending too much money, etc. then this post is for you! I have lived on my own for a few years now and find cooking plant based to take some time to get used to as fresh fruits and veg don’t always last as long as you think. Here are my tips that I have learned over the years.
1. Buy dry goods in bulk
Dry goods will be your best friend and the savior in your cabinets. Have any and all grains that you love and KNOW you will use on hand for the base of your favorite recipes. These have a pretty long shelf life, so it is good to buy them in bulk- just don’t cook them in bulk!
2. Buy fresh foods sparingly
Let me start off by saying I learned this through trial and error (a lot of error haha) but do not over buy produce!! It will go bad :( The only way I have found to buy produce that is successful for me is to go two times a week. I know this may not be ideal for everyone, but it allows me to see what I went through in a few days and if I need more or less. I also would get sick of having the same produce over and over again, so changing it a few times a week is perfect for me. If you do find yourself over shopping with the fresh foods and you know they are about to go bad- prep them- then freeze them.
3. Meal prep different meals
I am all for meal prepping, it saves time, energy, and gives you delicious meals. But… if you prep the same lunch for the whole week, by the third day you are probably not going to want it. I say if possible, meal prep for 2 days at a time, because life changes and you might end up going out for lunch one day and you don’t want your whole schedule to be off and food to go bad. Or if you must meal prep for the full week try to make a few different options and even put the last two in the freezer just in case.
4. Keep track
This may seem a bit tedious for some but if you are into it go for it, it has saved my life at the grocery store multiple times. Have a running list of what produce you have. That way you won’t double purchase and can plan meals around using up what you already have.
5. Make enough for 2
If making meals just for one seems like two much effort for just one serving, make enough for two. Aka make yourself dinner for the next night. You will be so grateful later on and it will make cooking feel like less of a waste of time and more like you are cooking for company (just your future self haha)
6. Make use of your freezer!
Use of your freezer is a huge key to be a successful single chef. I almost always have frozen veggies, sauces, soups, or fruit on hand for when I am actually almost out of food. You can prep your own produce and foods to freeze or buy frozen to start. This is a great way to deal with those times when you can’t get to the store but still need some veggies for your meal. Buying frozen can actually be just as good if not better than buying fresh in some cases as the produce is picked at peak ripeness. Notice though that this does not mean buying pre-made frozen meals!
7. How to join a CSA effectively
If you are like me and would love to join your local farm’s CSA program (community supported agriculture) but simply would not be able to eat that much produce, use my previous tip and freeze half of it and enjoy throughout the winter months! Turn tomatoes into tomato sauce, or veggies into soups to make those tired winter days that much easier.
8. Enjoy the time by yourself
Cooking alone can be… well… lonely. Put on some music, a podcast, FaceTime a friend, do whatever you need to make it feel more enjoyable and less of a chore because cooking your own food is the best way to ensure that you know exactly what you are putting into your body.
9. If you REALLY don’t have time
If you are leaving on vacation at the end of the week, have the busiest work week of your life, or need a break from cooking altogether, and still want some delicious plant-based meals? Check out Factor Meals for some pre-made plant-based options (they have many different diet accommodations as well). This will give you the break from cooking without the break from good food, letting you recharge for the next week.
Hope you enjoyed and don't feel so intimidated to cook for yourself!
Here are a few of my favorite recipes to meal prep and cook for myself:
Creamy Broccoli Potato Soup (freezes great)
Tofu Scramble (half the recipe for 2 breakfasts!)
Sourdough French Toast (the perfect brunch for 1)