Getting older brings about a lot of changes and one of the most frustrating is cooking for one. Finding ways to cook delicious, satisfying and nutritious meals for yourself can often make eating such a chore it’s easier to hit a drive-through restaurant than cook. But before you resort to that, consider these tips and recipes that make cooking for one easier and healthier.
Tip #1 Plan Ahead:
If you raised a family, you already know menu planning is key to great meals, and it also helps you save money (less impulse buying) and avoid food waste. As you plan, consider ingredients that can be used in more than one meal like pasta, eggs and potatoes, and stick to your list. Need help planning? The National Institutes of Health provides sample menus to get you going in the right direction.
Tip #2 Scale Down Quantities:
It can be difficult to avoid buying more than you need because prepackaged foods don’t often come in small amounts. One way to get only what you need is to choose as many items as possible from the bulk foods section and the deli. You can purchase only the amount you intend to use immediately and you avoid having to throw away food (and money).
Tip #3 Beware of Perishables:
Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet, but they are also the foods with the shortest shelf life. Purchase only what you know you will eat during the next week and consider buying your produce at a local farmers market. Locally sourced fruits and veggies were likely picked that day, rather than that month, so you can expect them to last longer when you get them home. You can also try preservation techniques from Reader’s Digest spelled out in the article, “12 Trick to Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh Longer.”
Tip #4 Freeze Leftovers:
No one wants to eat the same meal over and over again, so plan ahead to freeze leftovers. You not only avoid waste, you have meals in reserve for those days when there’s no time to cook. Meals that reheat well include pastas like spaghetti and lasagna, pizza, soups, cooked vegetables, and meats. When your meal plan includes frozen leftovers, be sure to thaw them in advance so they reheat faster and more evenly. Find out more about making the most of leftovers from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the article, “Tips for Reheating Leftovers.”
Tip #5 Scale Down Recipes:
While it may not be possible with all recipes, many can be halved or quartered without losing flavor. It’s easiest to start with recipes that serve four or fewer and make the calculations necessary. If math isn’t your strong suit, check out MyKitchenCalculator.com. It’s easy to “resize” your favorite recipes with the app or online.
Tip #6 Share With a Friend:
Another way to get variety in your meals is to share with one or more friends who are also cooking for one. For example, if four friends each make their favorite entrée and share it with each person in the group, everyone get a good meal and an opportunity to show off their culinary prowess as well!
As you plan your menu, you may also enjoy some of the offerings at One Dish Kitchen. This website offers recipes and meal plans as well as articles on a range of small-quantity cooking and baking topics. Here are two of the many great recipes from One Dish Kitchen that you won’t be able to resist.
Soft, buttery Small-Batch Strawberry White Chocolate Scones made with fresh strawberries. These fruit-filled scones are perfect for breakfast or dessert and are so easy to make. This recipe will give you 4 lovely scones.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Cool: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Cuisine: Breakfast, British
Servings: 4 scones Calories: 447kcal
Author: Joanie Zisk
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
For the Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Place the chopped strawberries in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar over the top and stir gently. Set bowl aside and let sit while you make the dough.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Line a baking sheet with Silpat™ or parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and sugar.
- Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg yolk. Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Gently stir in the white chocolate chips and the chopped strawberries.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead very lightly and form a circle. (Add a little more flour to the dough if the dough becomes too sticky to handle). The circle should be about 5-inches in diameter and 1-inch thickness.
- Cut the scones into 4 triangles and place on a small baking sheet lined with Silpat™ or parchment paper.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for a minute, then transfer onto wire rack to continue cooling.
To Prepare the Glaze
- In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and the cream until smooth. Spoon over each scone.
Serving: 1scone | Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 313mg | Potassium: 250mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 9% | Vitamin C: 12.8% | Calcium: 12.8% | Iron: 9.9%
Easy to make and full of flavor, this Lemon and Garlic Chicken for One is sure to please. This single serving meal cooks in under 30 minutes and can be cooked in the oven or on the grill. Serve over rice or orzo pasta. For a low carb variation, serve in a lettuce wrap.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Resting: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Main dish
Cuisine: Main dish
Servings: 1 person
Author: Joanie Zisk
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 6-ounce chicken breast
1/2 cup uncooked orzo
1 tablespoon butter
- Combine the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Place the chicken breast in a shallow dish and pour marinade over the chicken. Cover dish and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until completely cooked through and chicken is no longer pink inside.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and cover it with a piece of foil and allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- While the chicken is baking, make the orzo. Fill a medium sized pot 3/4 full with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add dried orzo to the pot and boil the orzo about 8 minutes or until it has a firm, chewy texture, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking together.
- Drain orzo in a colander. Add the orzo back into the warm pot and stir in the butter.
- Slice the chicken and serve over cooked orzo.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 548kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 719mg | Potassium: 585mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 9.8% | Vitamin C: 16.8% | Calcium: 3.2% | Iron: 10.9%