Cooking for One or Two
Cut that recipe down to size when cooking for one.
Standard family-size recipes are hard to use for only one or two people. We offer tips on cutting down recipes, as well as shopping tips to save money. Grocery stores are taking notice and catering more to single-person households. Today's families are diverse, and the markets have adapted to offer many choices and sizes. Learn more by reading our free tip sheet on one-person meals.
The key to success is planning.
Planning helps to minimize trips to the grocery store and limit those impulse buys. With good planning, you can save time and money and reduce food waste. Cooking for one begins with making a plan to buy the right ingredients to make meals for a week.
- Eat a wide variety of foods each week. Variety helps you get all the essential nutrients and makes eating more fun.
- Choose foods from all food groups using ChooseMyPlate.
- Take advantage of quality convenience products packaged for one or two persons.
Maximize Your Meals And Save Money
- Make a shopping list and plan out your menus for the week.
- Look for any sale items or coupons to save money.
- Try to buy only the amount of food you will eat in a week.
- Repackage, label, and freeze extra food in single servings.
- Cook once, eat twice.
- Label and freeze in heat-and-eat individual portions.
Cut Your Recipes In Half Using These Easy Measurements
- Half of 1/4 Cup equals 2 Tablespoons
- Half of 1/3 Cup equals 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
- Half of 1/2 Cup equals 1/4 Cup
- Half of 2/3 Cup equals 1/3 Cup
- Half of 1 Tablespoon equals 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Half of 1 teaspoon equals 1/2 teaspoon
- Half of 1/2 teaspoon equals 1/4 teaspoon
- Half of 1/4 teaspoon equals 1/8 teaspoon
- Half of 1/8 teaspoon equals a dash
Store For Another Meal
- Invest in reusable single-serving containers.
- Label, date, and freeze in individual servings.
- Package leftovers into multiple containers so they can be reheated in smaller quantities.
Condiments And Sauces
- Choose smaller bottles of condiments or sauces.
- Buy spice mixes instead of containers of single spices, such as Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Use the markets deli or kitchen departments and select only what you need. Ask for a quarter-pound of roasted poultry or two scoops of bean salad. Choose a few main entrée’s and side dishes for days you may not feel like cooking.
- Break down bakery items and freeze them for later.
- Buy desserts in single servings. Choose cake mixes, puddings, or frozen fruit bars for one.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Instead of purchasing larger amounts of prepackaged produce, buy it by the piece or buy a mixed bag. For example, choose three to five bananas and a bag of grapes, two oranges or apples, add a bunch of carrots, a few onions, a zucchini, and some greens. You are good to go for a week! Add individual serving sizes of canned and frozen items which have extended shelf lives.
- Proteins: Select meat and fish from the butcher counter to get what you like. For example, choose a pork chop, a chicken breast, and a salmon filet. Wrap each piece individually with a label. Add one-half dozen eggs for the week.
- Grains: Buy smaller-sized servings of rice, pasta, and cereals and enjoy the variety of smaller packages. Buy bread and freeze half for next week.
- Dairy: Choose single-serving cheese sticks and individual yogurts. Add shelf-stable milk instead of larger containers with quick expiration dates.
- 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.
- One Person Households Are On The Rise, US Census Bureau, November 19, 2019.
- MyPlate, My Wins, Meal Planning for One, ChooseMyPlate.gov
- Cooking Healthy Meals for One or Two: A Checklist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln