Life Hacks: 3 Fresh Ways to Cook for One

Meals are generally enjoyed when sharing it with others. We may look forward to having a meal at a restaurant with a friend, cooking a big meal for family or meeting up for coffee. At home alone, it can be difficult to put a lot effort into preparing a good meal. In honor of this month’s National Nutrition Month, following are some tips to cooking meals for one 

1.     Cook a large dish once or twice a week.

Meals like casserole, chili, soup, stew or meatloaf can add up to several meals. As the dish is cooling, place single servings in smaller containers that are safe for the freezer and microwave. After the dish cools, label the containers with the date and place them in the freezer. These meals can be generally stored for 2-3 months. This would provide a variety of “microwave” meals that are generally healthier than store-bought frozen meals. As you plan what to eat for the week, place the frozen container in the refrigerator the day before you heat it in the microwave or stove top. This is a safe way to thaw foods and reheat them more evenly. 

2.     Stock up on frozen and canned produce.

Fresh produce can go bad quickly, and for many, it’s hard to get out every few days for new fresh produce. This makes frozen and canned vegetables a good alternative. Frozen and canned vegetables are picked and then quickly flash frozen or canned in order to preserve their nutrients. Some canned and frozen vegetables even retain their nutritional value more than fresh produce due to the time that fresh produce is exposed to air, heat and time. Frozen vegetables can be portioned out in single servings and prepared quickly in the microwave or steamed to provide a variety of vegetables that don’t spoil quickly. 

3.     Plan a potluck.

If you live in a community such as an apartment complex, condo or senior housing, potlucks or dish exchanges are a great option. Plan on getting together with potluck items once or twice a month to have a meal with others and try new dishes. Another fun option is a dish exchange (similar to a cookie exchange), where everyone brings a big dish for everyone to portion out into their own containers for a later meal. 

Click here for more tips from the USDA on meal planning for one:

These tips came from Mary Arleth, registered dietitian at SKLD Ionia. This nutrition advice is not meant to replace nutrition advice given by a healthcare professional specific to your health and condition.


Wendy Margolin