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Be Smart, Eat Well, Get Healthy

Cooking for one can be fun!

simple meal in a bowl

Are you part of the fastest growing group in the U.S.? If you are a single or two-person household, then yes, you are. Do you struggle to cook for just you or one other? Instead of resorting to the drive-thru or worse, a bowl of cereal for dinner try these tips:

Adjust your grocery shopping routine:

  • Don’t buy the largest box or package because it’s “cheaper”. It’s not a great deal if you throw half of it out.
  • Buy frozen vegetables loose in the bag – cook one serving at a time.
  • Buy fresh fruit by the piece rather than by the bag.
  • Don't buy "specialty" ingredients if plain will do (self-rising flour vs. all-purpose).
  • Keep non-fat dry milk on hand to use in cooking.
  • Buy lean ground meat (at least 90% lean) – it keeps longer in the freezer.
  • Choose individually wrapped items to cut down on food waste; cheese, pudding, applesauce, crackers
  • Use the deli and meat counter to buy the amounts you will use. This can also be an opportunity to try new things.
  • Buy spice packets and small sized condiments

Cook once and eat several times:

  • Rotisserie chicken use for tacos, soups, stir fry, etc
  • Ham use for ham salad, soup beans, breakfast casserole, omelets
  • Roast beef use for beef and noodles, shepherd’s pie, BBQ

Make a large amount and freeze small portions:

  • Use waterproof labels and stick-on small plastic containers. They’ll stay in place over time but are removable without leaving a sticky residue behind.
  • Wrap individual servings of meat in heavy-duty aluminum foil and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator when ready to use and cook in the same foil; it saves on clean up.
  • One-half package of macaroni and cheese or other noodle seasoning mix can be saved in a baggie or plastic container. Don’t forget to put the directions in the container!
  • Buy egg substitutes and freeze them (fresh whole eggs don't freeze well).
  • Most foods, even those we think of as "shelf-stable," keep longer in the refrigerator. If it takes you a long time to use up 1 lb. of coffee, 5 lbs. of flour, or a box of raisins, refrigerate them.

Use appliances creatively:

  • Use a toaster oven to broil, roast, or heat single servings of meat.
  • Stir-fry small amounts of food at a time.
  • Use a waffle maker or other kitchen equipment to make a panini-style sandwich.
  • Air fry for healthier foods that taste delicious.
  • Use pressure cookers to make easy-peel hardboiled eggs, rice, and soups.
  • Experiment with new recipes and cooking techniques.
  • Take pleasure in cooking and learn to maximize food and its health benefits.
  • Treat yourself to occasional extravagances, such as expensive cuts of meat.

Enjoy meals with friends and family. Have a potluck freezer party. Have guests bring a dish to share and then divide up leftovers and freeze in individual portions.

For more info and specific instructions on how to reduce a recipe