Cooking for One – 15 thoughts

If you live on your own, shopping and cooking can sometimes be tricky – supermarkets are geared towards families and couples. Chops and fillets of fish and baking potatoes come in packs of two – if not more. I sometimes find myself fancying a bit of coleslaw, or some hummous, or whatever – but I don’t want to be eating it every day for a week!

I’ve been cooking for one since my husband left back in February – but even before he left, he worked away a lot, so cooking for one is something I’ve had lots of practice in. These are my thoughts, hints, tips and suggestions.

Be positive –

  • You can cook what you want to eat.
  • You can eat when you want to eat.
  • You can try something new – and if it all goes dreadfully wrong you can rustle up some cheese on toast without having to apologise to anyone.

You can still treat yourself –

  • Make cooking into an event. Spend the evening making a big pot of your favourite stew, or try out a new recipe. Pour a glass of wine, get creative.
  • There’s no reason why you can’t have a proper family dinner – roast chicken, veggies, roasties, stuffing, gravy. I’m quite evangelical about Rubber Chicken.
  • Bake half a cake – bake a single sponge cake, cut it in half and put one half on top of the other, sandwiched with jam or cream or whatever you fancy – you stand more of a chance of getting through it before it goes stale than you would if it was a whole double-tier sponge cake.
  • Don’t always have your meal sitting on the sofa watching the telly. Set the table, do it properly.
  • Do something nice for yourself. I always fill the kettle and leave a mug with a teabag in it on the bench, so that when I get up in the morning, or get in from work, all I have to do is flick the switch on the kettle. It’s not quite the same as someone making you a cuppa – but it’s the next best thing. It’s my teeny tiny way of showing myself that I care about me.

Practicalities –

  • You can cook double quantities and freeze some meals. Then, instead of heading for the cook-chill aisle, you just need to take something out of the freezer. Cheaper, probably healthier, just as quick – and without the bother of having to stop at the supermarket on the way home from work.
  • Buy some smaller sized pieces of equipment – a couple of smaller pans, smaller cooking trays, a smaller casserole dish, that sort of thing. There’s no point in spending more than you need heating up things that are bigger than you need.
  • Meal planning is just as important for one as it is for a family – it means you will only be buying what you need, and it also means that you can make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. You’re more likely to actually cook a proper meal if you know ‘tonight it’s salmon’ and all the ingredients are already bought and waiting. Plan what you’ll do with the leftovers too.
  • Beware of BOGOF deals – unless you’re able to freeze it, or you actually want to eat it every night for a week, they’re a false economy. I hate wasting food.
  • With the move away from plastic packaging, I’m hoping that things will change – buying loose is best for single people. It means we can buy as much or as little as we need. In the meantime, explore the deli counter and the little local shops where you can buy in bulk (which is ironic, as bulk is the last thing we want to buy in).

And finally –

  • It is worth the effort.
  • You are worth the effort.

What’s your best cooking-for-one life hack? And your favourite recipe?

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Deirdré Meyburgh says:

    I make a mug brownie in the microwave and eat it all up! There are lots of mug recipes on the internet, even proper food mug recipes, meat included. No wasting, and I can try something new often. It also saves on washing up, as all ingredients are mixed in the mug!


    1. Love it!! Guess what I’ll be Googling while I have my lunch!!


  2. gosforthgirl says:

    Use a slow cooker! I have two – one large and one small. Great for making a casserole either sufficient for one meal or a large one to make extrs meals. Also very welcoming to return home to lovely aromas if ready cooked dinner at minimal cost!

    Keep a beady eye open on the meat counter and when meat is reduced – maybe one portion left it then.

    Food diaries are a good idea but don’t always achieve it!

    My friend and I cook alternate weeks for each other once a week plus wine. It helps she lives in the same road !


    1. I don’t actually own a slow cooker!! My cousin is a chef and he put me off them years ago, saying they didn’t get the food hot enough. I’m guessing they’ve improved the design these days, so will add it to my Christmas list!!


  3. SisterStay says:

    I love your “And finally” comments. That’s important to remember.


    1. Thank you, I felt it needed to be said. xx


  4. anglosvizzera says:

    Our slow cooker certainly simmers (just ‘on the boil’), so presumably it’s up to a safe temperature. The meat gets cooked, after all.

    Another useful thing might be a pressure cooker if time’s an issue and is great for cooking dried and soaked beans safely and quickly.

    We make our own mayonnaise using a hand blender, so we only make what we need (very easy to make in less than a minute – youtube videos show how.) So making a little bit of ‘coleslaw’ for one is easy as you can use any kind of brassica leaf you have, not just the usual cabbage. I’ve even used the softer parts of the leaves around a cauliflower, a carrot and some onion – and it keeps for a while in the fridge. I guess you could even use a couple of shredded brussels sprouts?

    When I lived on my own in a rented place, not having much exotic kitchen equipment, I used to buy fresh fish reduced from Morrisons and stick it in the freezer. Then I’d use it with whatever else I had around, salad or steamed veg.


    1. Great idea to use sprouts!! Interestingly, I make my own potato salad, but haven’t had a go at coleslaw. Has to be better than buying it and letting it fester in the fridge (I happen to know there’s a pot in there at the moment, it just hasn’t been coleslaw weather!!).

      Liked by 1 person

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