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The Cheaper, Healthier Way to Cook for One

Updated on February 17, 2011
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Cooking for just one can be challenging at times, especially if you were used to cooking for more than one. When this happened to me, I found I wasn't as anxious to make meals just for myself and realized my diet was suffering because of it and my health. Through trial and error I came up with a way to keep me more on track, eat healthier and also lower my grocery bills. It will require a rather full day of cooking, but it will definitely be worth it in the weeks to come. Hope this helps those of you that are having to make the same adjustment.

BUY IN LARGER QUANTITIES

While this may seem like the last thing to do, it can save you quite a bit of money. If you are a memberof a store such as Sam's Club or Costco, it will save you even more. Personally, I've found the price of the membership worth the savings, but even at regular grocery stores, buying larger packages usually is thriftier. I buy a large package of meat and prepare the entire thing at one time. I usually make two or three different recipes to have a good variety of meals to choose from. Braising is a wonderful method of cooking that leaves you with a nice juice that can be used as is or made into gravy. I find it also helps keep the meat nice and juicy when reheated.

So, after you have cooked your meat (or meats, if you choose to do a couple different ones) just divide up into freezer containers in single servings, and be sure to label what it is and when you cooked it. Freeze and you'll have a good supply of the main part of your meal. Heat up your meat, add a salad or vegetables, maybe some pasta or rice and you have a homemade meal!

Soups and stews are another good choice because you will have your vegetables already added in. I personally have found that potatoes do not do well, so I leave those out. Lasagna, packaged into individual servings, is also delicious and freezes very well. Almost anything can be frozen, so use your imagination and get cooking!

When you come home tired and hungry, you'll love the convenience of opening your freezer and picking out your meal. It will make stopping for junk food much less likely and therefore much healthier. It also kept me from buying frozen dinners, which are quite expensive and, in my opinion, not as healthy or tasty as a homemade meal. Before I started this system, I was eating anything easy to make and usually it wasn't a very balanced meal. I could definitely feel the difference in my overall health. One of the most pleasant surprises was the difference in my grocery bills. I have saved a substantial amount of money not buying all that prepackaged food. Another nice thing is that if I do have an unexpected friend drop by, and want to invite them to dinner, all I have to do is whip out two portions.So, take one day, cook up some delicious dinners and enjoy cheaper, healthier meals for weeks to come!

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    • profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      What a great idea for those of us who live alone.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      It makes sense to cook more and freeze the left overs when you are on your own. My husband travels a lot so I'm constantly storing extras in the freezer for those nights I'm on my own. Nice Hub.

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 6 years ago from the South

      Thanks Karanda!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 6 years ago from Minnesota

      Great tips on cooking for one. I bet this is good for keeping a healthier weight since your not just eating what's around. When I was living alone I use to buy lots of hamburger and put them into patties. I'd put each patty in a sandwich bag and freeze until I needed one. I was on weight watchers at the time, so I would even weigh out the burger.

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 6 years ago from the South

      Thanks,Minnetonka. I do the same thing with hamburger! And it does help with weight because you can use better portion control. Weighing it out is a great idea.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Thanks, catgypsy, these are great tips for working couples, too. Some days when I get home from work I am grateful to be able to go to the freezer and heat up something quickly.

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Thanks Cloverleaf. It's like having TV dinners, but they are cheaper, tastier, and much healthier! Thanks for the comment.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Just came back from Costco. The day of convenience food and snacks are over for this family. Just can't afford them. Your ideas are great. Hub header picture is yummy looking.

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Haha...I get hungry ever time I look at it! As hard as it is to cut back, it may be a blessing in disguise. Having to make homemade meals has certainly made me eat healthier! Good luck!

    • Olde Cashmere profile image

      Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

      Oh boy, I could have used this advice when I made my first move. Lots of useful tips for people to stay on track with their health, it can hard to keep motivated to make a meal when you are only cooking for yourself and you provided useful tips to get through it. Excellent writing. Voted up, useful, and awesome (:

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Thanks Cashmere!

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi catgypsy. I do this a lot. I don´t spend a day cooking though, I just sometimes make the normal amount I would have made when I had a family and freeze what I don´t eat that night. Making a basic bolognese type sauce with mince meat is a good one, I find , because then you can have not only bolognese, but also chilly con carne, curry, or cottage pie filling from just one batch cooking of mince. like you I love the convenience of not having to cook every single night.

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      You are so right...if you make the right sauces, you can use them for several different meals! I also love the taste of leftovers as I think the flavors blend and meld together as they sit, so freezing things makes them taste that much better later. Thanks for commenting!

    • healingsword profile image

      Ann Wehrman 4 years ago from California

      Very thoughtful and practical Hub for those who live alone. Cooking for oneself and eating alone regularly can be challenging on an emotional level, too, so it's helpful to have healthy, substantial food at one's fingertips, like frozen, cooked meats, for quickly throwing together meals that are nutritious and not just junk food or eating cereal for dinner. Buying the large amount of meat and cutting it up, freezing it, then cooking one small piece at a time also works, for those who don't want to spend a long time preparing multiple meals at once. You're right, cooked/frozen potatoes do not make it, though:-)!

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Thanks for the comment and reading my hub, healingsword! It is hard to eat alone on an emotional level too! Yes, I buy large packages of meat and freeze individual portions...you're so right, that helps a lot. And I do think you eat healthier if you plan ahead like this. Thanks again.

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