If you’re cooking for one or two are you finding yourself ordering out or driving through way too often? We know that cooking can be a fun, creative part of your life, but if your days of cooking for a houseful are in the past, those old favorite recipes might be way too much at this stage.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to cook delicious meals without cooking for an army? Think of the money you’d save! Think of the waste you’d eliminate. So, whether you’re cooking for two or just you; sometimes it’s hard to adapt recipes to ‘fit’. Here are seven creative tips to make that work, no matter your style!
#1 Cook for More and Share the Extras
The first tip in cooking for two is to choose any family-sized recipe and simply enjoy your meal. Sometimes it’s fun to make the whole thing like the old days. But instead of tossing or Tupperwaring, consider sharing. Depending on how much is left over, you could share a plate or pan with that sweet neighbor or your elderly relative. If you’d like to do this regularly, check with your church, homeless shelter, or women’s shelter and pack up your leftovers to share with those in need. It will be a big blessing for them and you.
Additionally, you could ask folks over to join you for a meal and then send some leftovers home with them! ?
#2 Meal Kit Companies for Two
Meal kit companies can be perfect for specific numbers of people at your table, especially if you’re just cooking for one. They’re not for everyone, but can be fun and cost-effective. We tried Hello Fresh. It was yummy and educational, but not quite as down-home as I like to cook. Other possibilities include Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Freshly. Most offer huge getting started discounts and come with directions and ingredients for the meals you’ve chosen.
Freshly is a little different. The meals are prepared and shipped. No learning how to prepare new recipes. It’s all done for you!
#3 Leftovers Deserve a Shot
Sometimes you just want the leftovers! Whether you cooked at home and the recipe didn’t sound that big! Or, the portions were huge at Cracker Barrel or Applebee’s so you got a doggy bag. Haven’t you heard everything’s better on the 2nd or even the 3rd day? Warm it up, add a jazzy salad and enjoy for the next day or a few. I intentionally double my meatloaf so there’ll be enough for a couple more meals and of course meatloaf sandwiches! (Thick bread, lots of mayo and ketchup, and a nice sprinkling of salt. Perfection!)
Another consideration if you consistently are taking home restaurant leftovers would be to split the meal. You have to eat out with someone who has similar tastes and maybe agree to take turns with orders. If you can get it to work, you’ll save some bucks!
#4 Cookbooks that Help You in Cooking for Two
Check out the “30 Minute Cooking for Two: Healthy Dishes Without All the Fuss’ it has lots of practical, easy meals for two. And, they’re healthy as well! After a while of following these recipes, you’ll be able to size down your recipes more easily.
30 Minute shares solutions for shopping for two, pantry and fridge staples to have on hand, storing suggestions, and 10 tips on how to minimize waste. The first tip was to “Plan your meals prior to grocery shopping to avoid impulse buys and overbuying.” This leads to my suggestion below for the Plan to Eat app.
Another title that could prove extremely helpful and delicious in cooking for one or two is One-Pot Cooking for Two: Effortless Meals for Your Sheet Pan, Skillet, Slow Cooker, and More. This cookbook not only supports creating delicious smaller meals but also using fewer pans and dishes (what could be better than that?!) This title is now in my cart. I’ll update this post later after I’ve checked it out in person.
#5 Do the Freezer Prep in One or Two Meal Size Containers
Cook ahead and FREEZE in single or double serving portions and then pop those puppies in the microwave when you’re in the mood. I bought an awesome book several years ago (it must’ve gotten lost in the move!) with a complete system for prepping ahead with freezer meals. If that sounds appealing to you, here are a couple of titles that look great to me (as replacement titles!) The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook and Taste of Home Make It Freeze It: 295 Make-Ahead Meals that Save Time & Money
#6 Cooking for Two with My Favorite Online Tool
One very helpful online resource is Plan to Eat. I love that place. You can plan your meals, capture recipes, and even create shopping lists! Super fun! Click here for a free trial. If you do decide to sign up, let’s be friends, and then we can share recipes! I’m a big fan of The Pioneer Woman, The Kitchen, and Trisha Yearwood so I tag their recipes to find them quicker. I also tag for the Mediterranean Diet, Cast Iron Cooking, Clean Eating, and several more. I would love to hook up on PTE! 🙂
Also, Plan to Eat will adjust ingredient amounts to the number of servings. Some online recipes will do the same thing before you save them. While you’re shrinking those meals, you might want to be lightening them up as well. Over at “Your Favorite Comfort Foods (Only Lighter)“several tips are shared to do just that. PTE just added a feature for using leftovers. I love how they’re always adding helpful new things.
#7 Cooking for Two Tasty Dinner Ideas
- Check out the collection of “Pantry Meals for One or Two” on Recipes for Friends on Quiet Hollow. A pantry meal is one that you put together from what you’ve got on hand in the pantry, fridge, or freezer. The recipes on that page are general suggestions for several yummy recipes when you’re cooking for one or two.
- One Dish Kitchen is a Facebook page and website which only does delicious small meals for one or two. Check this one out! Small Batch Microwave Fudge…yum.
- Why Experts Recommend Meal Planning for Every Home is an amazing resource to keep nearby when planning your meals. Everything you need to know about the practical side of meal planning…plus tons of yummy recipes for the process. 5 ⭐️’s
- Here are 6 Easy Meals Made in Minutes at the Silver Sneakers site. They look like they’d be very tasty while healthy. And, they’re formulated for one person…perfect.
- This Magic Pantry Recipe Generator will give you the tools you need to generate your own meals right out of your pantry. It’s free…have fun ‘generating’!
Here You Go!
So, let’s wrap this up. When you’re not cooking for a family any longer, it takes a while to readjust to cooking for yourself or maybe cooking for two or three. There are a few suggestions in this post for making that transition more seamless. Some of the ideas might solve another issue of this time of life; being alone. Sharing a meal can add to social belonging for you or someone else. And, in regards to our initial problem of eating out too often, I’m hoping the suggestions will result in your spending less or having fewer leftovers (unless you want them!) Bone Appetit! ?
Here are a couple of other posts about cooking and finding great recipes! My Five Favorite Cookbooks is a book review of a few I have on my kitchen counter. Easy Meals from Grandma’s Pantry will show you how to eat down your pantry! You might just start saving money by not having to hop over to the grocery store so often.
Also, there’s a page on Quiet Hollow called Recipes for Friends on Quiet Hollow devoted to recipes we love around here from friends, family, and favorites. Have fun!
Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.