If you only have yourself to cook for, it can be pretty tempting to fall into the trap of a takeaway for one – which usually means you’re ordering for at least three. This may be the easier option, but it also has a negative impact on both your bank balance and waistline.
Instead, try and make cooking for yourself simple so you’ll get a tasty homemade meal every day with minimal fuss and for a lot less cash. There are loads of different ways you can create solo meals that are ready to go in a few minutes and that definitely aren’t as sad as a microwave meal for one
As part of our Tefalphabet, we’ve put together some easy tips that will see you getting more use out of your kitchen and stop your local Chinese takeaway from knowing your order off by heart. Here’s how you should be stepping up your solo style:
Plan your meals
You may already write a shopping list each week, but if you plan what meals you’re going to make, it’s much easier to see what you can do with leftovers – as well as make you realise that you probably don’t need the six tins of kidney beans that are on offer.
It also means you can fit your meals around your schedule, after all, no one wants to come home and cook something super complicated after a day of meetings or a long session at the gym.
Write a weekly or two weekly plan that uses up all of the ingredients you need and makes the most of anything you can cook in bulk, such as sauces. This will mean you won’t end up doing the mad dash to the supermarket to pick up a tin of tomatoes or the one onion you thought you had.
Frozen veggies are your friend
One of the downsides to shopping and cooking for one is the fact that you might find foods go off before you get a chance to cook them. While your meal plan will help with this, sometimes vegetables just don’t have as much life in them as you think.
To save yourself the disappointment of reaching for your carrots only to find they are mostly liquid in a bag by making the most of frozen veggies. Not only will this mean you know your vegetables are still edible, frozen varieties are usually prepared and good to go, making your life easier.
Portion things out
While a lot of things like fresh fish and meat are available in smaller packages that are suitable for one person, these can work out fairly expensive in the long-run. You might find that it’s better to shell out more for a family pack and then just portion it out.
Things like beef mince and chicken breasts can be bagged up so they’re ready for a number of single meals. You can also freeze them so you can be sure they won’t go off before you get round to eating each portion.
Plus, you’ll know you have spare portions if you do get a chance to avoid a lonely meal for one.
Batch cook what you can
There are so many ingredients that can be used to make different meals, especially if you cook them in bulk. Tomato sauce can be made into chili, pasta bake and bolognese, while simple foods like quinoa can be used as a side, turned into a salad or even transformed into a healthy breakfast.
If you know that you can use an ingredient or a part of a meal for several different things, save yourself some time by cooking extra so it’s ready when you are. Simply freeze what you can and package the rest up for the fridge until you need it.
There’s very little point in making a ridiculously complicated meal if you’re just cooking for yourself, especially as you’ve got no one else to pawn the washing up on. If you’ve got numerous parts to a meal, it can mean using several pans, a couple of chopping boards and maybe even a baking dish, all of which needs to be washed up and put away.
You can save yourself time and effort by making a meal that needs no more than two pans or – even better – make something that means you can throw everything in the same dish. This makes preparation, cooking and the subsequent clean up much easier so you won’t be tempted to reach the phone and take the easy way out.
See what other tips we’ve got in our Tefalphabet that could help you cook up a storm with minimal fuss.