Cooking for one involves unique challenges. Let’s face it, you can only eat so many sandwiches, salads and frozen entrees! Most recipes are written for 4-6 servings. Frustrating to say the least, and you deserve better! Here are 6 smart tips for eating and preparing healthy, well-balanced meals, even if you’re the only one at the table!

Tip #1:  Use ramekins (or mugs)! These made-for-one dishes are oven and microwave safe! Let’s start with dessert ideas! Even health coaches enjoy dessert. Here are two clever ideas: 

Fruit Crisp

Ingredients:

1 apple (or pear)

1/4 cup flour or whole wheat flour (healthier)

1/4 cup sugar or brown sugar

2 tbsp butter melted or applesauce (healthier)

dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Cut up one apple or pear place in lightly greased ramekin

Mix the flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon.

Lay mixture on top of fruit and bake in oven for 25 minutes! 

*One word of advice, place ramekins on a baking sheet!

Microwave Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour

1/4 cup white sugar or coconut sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons milk or milk substitute

2 tablespoons applesauce

1 tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a microwave-safe ramekin (or BIG mug); stir in milk, applesauce, water, and vanilla extract.

Cook in microwave until cake is done in the middle, about 1 minute 45 seconds.

Need more ‘mug’ ideas? Check out this list! There are breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas in this list too! 

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Tip #2: Consider the egg! It happens to be all the rage now. Have you noticed a fried egg on pizza and hamburgers?! You can do it too. Here are a few ideas: Fry an egg and place over your favorite mixed vegetables. Top a sunny-side up over noodles with cherry tomatoes, add parmesan cheese and pepper! Scramble an egg or two with rice, add a few veggies, like broccoli and carrots and season with soy sauce. Poach an egg to have inside an english muffin, add a slice of cheese and sliced avocado! The great thing about eggs is  they are healthy and come in single serving size. Be creative.

Tip #3: Roast a cornish hen. Another item that comes in a single serving. It’s so easy, they take about an hour in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. Be sure to use a thermometer and make sure it reads 165 degrees! Here’s a simple recipe: rub outside of hen with olive oil, add salt and pepper, put lemon wedges inside the cavity and roast for about an hour! Peel and slice a carrot and potato to place under the bird and bake in a small pie plate or gratin dish for easier clean up. That’s it and you have an amazing dish!

Tip #4: Here are three tips for shopping and cooking for one.

Buy frozen vegetables, they taste like fresh and last longer. Plus, you can use only what you need and put back in the freezer.

Load up on dried goods like pasta, rice, lentils, quinoa and oats. Store in airtight containers and you’ll be able to keep them for a few years!

Buy in the bulk bins! This allows you to grab only what you need and you’ll be able to try a new ingredient before buying the whole container and deciding you don’t like it! Grains, nuts, almond butter, and spices are just a few items  you’ll find in the bulk bins. Check it out next time you’re at the grocery store.

Tip #5: Cook in bulk and freeze single serving meals once a month! This technique turns those recipes for four into about 20 different single meals  you can enjoy for the rest of the month! It’s worth the hassle and will save you from unhealthy eating when you’re ravenous! Choose only the foods/recipes you love. That’s the sweet part of cooking for yourself. Here’s the plan, and after shopping, you really only need a few hours to complete the process!

  1. Choose five recipes you’d like to try. Here are a few ideas for you! 
  2. Make a shopping list and sort your ingredients by ‘aisle’; like produce, meat, dairy, dry goods, etc. etc. That way you won’t forget an ingredient. Don’t forget to purchase the containers you’ll be using for freezing! Tupperware has a great line especially for freezing food. You can also check out ziplock versa glass containers for better freezing of single meals.
  3. Make sure your meals are balanced with proteins, complex carbohydrates (think leafy greans) and healthy fats (no transfats)!
  4. Choose an afternoon or morning to prepare your five recipes! Or split it up. Take an hour in the morning to chop, dice and prepare ingredients, take a break and then finish in the afternoon or the next day!
  5. Divide into single size portions in your ready-to-go containers and LABEL them with the date and contents. Include directions if you need!
  6. Place in freezer and you have a variety of 20 single meals for the whole month.
  7. When you’re ready to eat, simply place your frozen entree’ in the oven and bake until cooked all the way through. Most of the recipes you’ll be making will already have been cooked, so it’s really just heating them up. Oven is the preferred way to heat a frozen meal, but microwave will work in a flash. 

Tip #6: Make quesadillas, soup, flatbread or pasta out of leftovers. So, you don’t want to do the bulk cooking! I get it. Go ahead and make a bigger meal, knowing you’ll have leftovers and then use your leftovers the next day in a creative way! For example, if you made meatloaf on Sunday, why not use the leftover meat for spaghetti and meatballs on Monday? Or maybe you roasted (or bought!) a whole chicken for a meal with broccoli as your side. Why not make chicken/broccoli quesadillas the next day? I can honestly say I’ve made quesadillas out of just about any thing! Everything tastes pretty delicious with cheese. Another example of creative leftover use is topping a small, single serving of baked flatbread with salad leftovers! Of course any vegetable that is starting ‘to turn’ can be put in a pot with some chicken or beef stock, add rice or noodles and you’ve got soup d’jour!

Here is another great link for super easy and healthy meals you can make in minutes! I can’t wait to try a few myself, enjoy.

Cooking for one can be pleasurable and gratifying. Turn on your favorite tunes, pour yourself a cool beverage in a flute or wine glass. Yes, non-alcoholic drinks are just more fun in a wine glass. Try Perrier with an orange slice, it’s lovely. Get out the cloth napkins and treat yourself, because you are worth it! 

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