Cooking Just for One (or Two)? Tips, Tricks and Thoughts

Table Setting for One

Cooking for One? Who says it’s not worthwhile?

Chatting with a neighbor yesterday I learned that she was feeling anxious about her son’s imminent departure for college–for all the usual motherly reasons, of course, but also because she would be left cooking just for one. “I’ve already noticed I can’t eat like a teenager any more,” she bemoaned while patting the little midriff bulge that begins to happen around midlife.  She wondered what would happen without a growing teenage boy propelling her to make good meals.

As a 25-year veteran in the healthy meal making area, I’ve heard the “cooking for one” lament hundreds of times. And for the longest of times, I indulged the common assumption that it doesn’t make sense to cook just for one.  I readily handed out free passes to any and all single householders. “Sure,” I would commiserate with them, “you can munch on miserable crackers and cheese and call it dinner.”

I get it, having a one-person household means your body no longer needs healthy meals, right?

And having only one at the table means you don’t deserve freshly-prepared meals, with inviting colors and smells.

And certainly, you’re not entitled to relax, put your feet up and savor the flavors.

 As I began looking at things from these perspectives, the common assumptions about cooking for one started sounding pretty silly. So I started doing what all educated people should do with any common assumption heard more than ten times: Question it!

  • Why does a change in household numbers automatically require a decrease in meal quality?
  • Who says it’s too much effort to cook a good meal for one?
  • Why does someone else get to dictate what we do and don’t deserve?
  • Do we have to believe the common assumption?  Can it be changed?

I’m excited for our Cooking for One or Two (or Even a Few) class. It starts on Thursday, July 10. With nearly a third of households now having only one person, it’s time to begin creating a new common assumption that supports everyone’s access to the comfort, nurture and deliciousness of wholesome meals, no matter if there are one or ten at the table!  Join us in class to start a new conversation–or add your thoughts below.

In the meantime, if you’re cooking just for one (or two or even a few), here’s a helpful strategy:   Invest the time to make one good recipe, get a week’s worth of inspiration from the leftovers.  Not only does this take care of the “deciding-what-to-cook-conundrum” ( the hardest part about cooking), the leftover bits and pieces give you a timesaving head start on meal making the rest of the week. See this strategy in action in the next couple posts where you’ll find:

a) the root recipe, Sautéed Beet and Snap Pea Salad with Steak Strips and Cumin Dressing

b) a list of likely leftovers from making the salad; and

c) quick “throw-together” dinner ideas for the rest of the week–plus a lunch

Be amazed at how a little upfront investment yields benefits–and great meals–all week long, even if there’s only one at the table.


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