Cooking for one can seem like a fool's errand - so much time and effort to feed just one person. The trick is to minimize your effort while maximizing your output, or in cooking terms, do as little prep work as possible to produce a lot of food (all while keeping costs down, of course). Here are some tips to make cooking for one easy and productive:
o Something on sale? When you notice an item is significantly marked down, go ahead and stock up! You can either freeze it or plan your eating that week around it. If you freeze it, store it in a zip-top plastic bag and be sure to label and date it.
o Hate cutting vegetables? Instead of having to whip out the cutting board every time you want to cook, cut more vegetables than you need and store them in the fridge or freezer for easy use throughout the week. You'll save time by only having to clean up once and will have eliminated an extra step in cooking your next meal. (Or just eliminate cutting entirely and buy pre-chopped frozen veggies. We won't tell on ya.)
o Always using that one pantry item? Stock up, particularly when there's a sale! Rice and pastas pretty much never go bad, so you should always have them in your cupboard. Boil some pasta and throw some veggies in a saute pan, and you have an easy pasta dish that required almost zero prep time.
o Have a go-to that you love to make? Does it keep well? If so, make a big batch! Chili and soup will last for up to a week in the refrigerator, so make a big pot and then just reheat for easy meals throughout the week.
Most grocery stores have the same layout, with fresh foods (produce, meat, and dairy) on the perimeter of the store, and processed foods (with longer shelf lives) on the aisles in the middle of the store. Since we try to primarily eat whole, unprocessed foods, we tend to stick to the edges of the store as much as possible.
When comparing our options in the grocery store, we look at the ingredient list and ask ourselves a few key questions. How many ingredients do this have? Do I know what these ingredients are? Is sugar one of the first few ingredients? There’s no hard and fast rule, but generally the fewer ingredients, the better. The more easily pronounced ingredients, the better. The farther down sugar occurs on the ingredient list, the better (if it appears at all).