Cooking for One: The Ultimate Solo Kitchen Guide

Have you ever found yourself staring at a recipe meant to serve an entire family and wondered, “How do I reduce this to serve just me?” You’re not alone. The world of cooking for one can seem daunting – it’s often depicted as lonely, wasteful, and overly complicated. But we’re here to debunk those myths and guide you through the joy and simplicity that can come from the art of cooking for one.

Cooking for one can be both a challenge and a rewarding experience. While it may seem like there’s no point in putting in effort for a meal just for yourself, it’s important to recognize the value in treating yourself to a wholesome, home-cooked meal. By learning the right techniques and discovering recipes tailored to the single diner, anyone can master the art of cooking for one and enjoy delicious meals without feeling overwhelmed or wasteful.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the tips and tricks for efficient grocery shopping, meal planning, and food storage to make cooking for one a seamless experience.  Furthermore, we will provide a selection of good meal ideas covering a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences. So, whether you’re a busy professional, a student, or simply someone who enjoys their own company, prepare to embark on a flavorful journey designed just for you.

a woman in a kitchen cooking for one
Photo By YuriArcurs

Why Cooking for One Can Be Fun and Easy

Contrary to popular belief, cooking for one doesn’t have to be a tedious task, nor does it mean you’re confined to a limited menu. In fact, it presents a unique opportunity to make your meals more personal, exploratory, fun, and easy. Here’s why cooking for one can be a joy rather than a chore.

Flexibility with Ingredients

When cooking for yourself, you become the master of your kitchen domain. This means you have complete control over what goes into your meals. Love mushrooms but detest olives? Go ahead, double up on those mushrooms in your pasta. Your favorite spice isn’t to everyone else’s taste? Well, when you’re cooking for one, you’re the only taste bud that matters! You have the freedom to use whatever ingredients you prefer, making every meal a personalized dining experience. This kind of flexibility allows you to cater to your own tastes and dietary requirements without having to consider anyone else’s preferences.

Mastering Portion Control

Solo cooking can also serve as a wonderful tool for mastering portion control. We often tend to overeat when we’re served large portions or when we have extra food left on the stove. When you’re preparing meals for yourself, you can control the quantity of each ingredient, helping you create balanced, nutritious meals that are the perfect size for you. This way, you’ll likely eat healthier and reduce food waste as well

An Opportunity to Experiment

Cooking for one is your ticket to culinary creativity and one of the best ways to experiment. It’s the perfect chance to experiment with new recipes, flavors, and cooking techniques without the pressure of pleasing others. Want to try your hand at making sushi or to concoct your own pasta sauce recipe? Go for it! If it doesn’t work out as planned, you’re the only one who needs to know. With every cooking experiment, you’ll learn and improve, and who knows, you may even stumble upon your new favorite dish!

In a nutshell, cooking for one is not about solitude or monotony. It’s about embracing the freedom to eat what you want, how you want, and when you want. It’s about savoring the joy of creating something from scratch and enjoying it at your own pace.

a woman preparing a salad in a bowl
Photo By YuriArcurs

Cooking for One Dietary Requirements

When you are just getting started cooking for one, it’s important to consider individual dietary requirements before you jump into planning meals. Some common dietary restrictions include:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Nut-free

Understanding your dietary requirements is crucial for planning satisfying and nutritious meals. It’s possible to make adjustments to recipes or find alternatives that cater to specific dietary restrictions. Your next step would be to scale those meals for one person.

Setting a Realistic Budget

The next step in cooking for one is determining a budget for meals so that you are able to make smart decisions when grocery shopping and meal planning. Some strategies to save money include:

  1. Buying in-season produce
  2. Taking advantage of sales and discounts
  3. Opting for budget-friendly proteins
  4. Shopping the freezer aisle for ingredients you need less of
  5. Using a local butcher or deli for individual portions of meat and cheese

Setting a realistic budget can help individuals stick to it and avoid overspending on groceries. In the long term it can also help you to have less waste and leftovers when you are cooking just for yourself.

Time Constraints

Time is a valuable resource for everyone, especially for those who are cooking solo. Assessing your available time for meal preparation can affect the types of recipes chosen. Some tips for saving time in the kitchen include:

  • Meal or food prepping: Prepare multiple meals or bulk prep ingredients at once and store them for later consumption.
  • Utilizing time-saving kitchen tools like air fryers, slow cookers, and choppers
  • Opting for easy-to-prepare recipes with minimal steps and fewer ingredients

The Art of Meal Planning for One

Mastering the art of meal planning can be a game-changer, especially when you’re cooking for yourself. While it may initially seem like an extra chore, the benefits are multifold. It reduces stress, saves time, leads to healthier choices, and minimizes waste. But how exactly do you plan meals effectively when you’re only cooking for yourself? Below we dive into some tips and steps to make this process easier.

The Importance of Meal Planning for One

When you’re cooking for one, it can be tempting to opt for takeout or prepackaged meals, but these options can be heavy on the wallet and light on nutrition. That’s where meal planning comes into play.

Meal planning is the simple act of taking some time each week to plan your meals and snacks. This simple strategy ensures that you always have delicious and nutritious meals ready, without resorting to less healthy, more expensive alternatives.

Meal planning can help you maintain a balanced diet, making sure you’re getting a variety of nutrients throughout the week. It also allows you to make the most of your grocery haul, reducing waste by ensuring you use up everything you buy. Meal planning can be a simple as roughly planning which days you will be eat at home vs. meeting a friend for dinner and what types of meals you want to have on those days.

Plan Ahead for Culinary Success

Planning is key when it comes to successful meal planning. At the start of each week (or whenever works best for your schedule), take some time to consider what you’d like to eat for the upcoming days. Look at your calendar, consider your upcoming commitments, and create a flexible meal plan. 

Creating a Shopping List

After you have decided on your weekly meal plan you’ll want to create a shopping list. This helps you to purchase only the necessary ingredients for your meal plan. You’ll want to pick recipes that include overlapping ingredients so that you can minimize food fatigue and have less leftovers. Here are some tips for creating an effective shopping list:

  • Plan meals for the week, considering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
  • Know your weekly schedule: Do you have a work lunch this week where you will not need to pack a lunch? Do you have dinner with friends? Account for all of this while you are planning your meals 
  • Note ingredients needed for each recipe: Can you use ingredients that overlap with different recipes? For example: Making a Chicken Parmesan meal one night and a chicken stir fry the next night will use similar staple ingredients that you can purchase just once
  • Check your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator for items you already have so that you do not over buy ingredients that don’t have a purpose for that week
  • Organize your list by grocery store sections for better navigation

Meal Prepping Strategies

If the idea of cooking a fresh meal every night seems a bit overwhelming as a single person, or if your schedule doesn’t allow for nightly culinary adventures, there’s a fantastic solution for you: meal prepping. Contrary to what you might think, meal prepping when you’re cooking for one doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the kitchen on your days off, nor does it mean eating the same meal day after day. With a little planning, you can transform your cooking routine into a streamlined, stress-free process.

Bulk Prep, Easy Cook Healthy Meals

Meal prepping often conjures up images of rows of identical containers, each holding the same meal. However, that doesn’t have to always be the case! There are other styles of meal prep that can give you a more flexible approach such as bulk prepping ingredients. Instead of preparing entire meals, you can prepare individual ingredients to mix and match throughout the week.

For instance, you might roast a batch of vegetables, cook a pot of quinoa, grill some chicken breast or tofu, and make a homemade dressing with olive oil and vinegar. Now, with your pre-prepared components, you can easily assemble a variety of meals throughout the week without being stuck eating the same boring meals for five days. When you are ready to eat simply mix your veggies, protein, and quinoa for a hearty salad one day, and the next, stir-fry the same components with some additional spices and a new sauce for a completely different flavor profile.

Strategies for Effective Meal Planning

Meal planning can make cooking for one much easier and planning meals doesn’t need to be complicated or rigid. Here are some strategies to make meal planning for one a breeze:

  1. Prepare versatile ingredients: Cook grains, proteins, and vegetables that can be mixed and matched for multiple meals.
  2. Think in Terms of Components: Instead of planning different recipes for each meal, think in terms of components: proteins, grains, vegetables, and flavors (like sauces, herbs, and spices). This way, you can mix and match these components to create a variety of meals throughout the week.
  3. Embrace Small Batch Cooking: Prepare larger quantities of basic ingredients like grains, black beans, roasted veggies, or protein at the start of the week. You can then use these in different meals throughout the week, saving you time and effort on busy nights.
  4. Utilize Your Freezer: Freezing meals or meal components can be a lifesaver. Cooking a small batch of your favorite soup, curry, or stew? Freeze individual servings for future use. Similarly, you can freeze cooked grains, beans, or even chopped veggies for quick and easy meals.
  5. Plan for Leftovers: If you’re making a dish, plan to have it twice in a week, or transform the leftovers into a new meal. For example, last night’s grilled chicken can be today’s salad topper.
  6. Portion and store meals: If you are short on time you can always create one recipe then divide and store those meals in individual containers for grab-and-go convenience.

Remember, meal planning is all about making your life easier. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Start with planning just a few meals a week and gradually increase as you get comfortable with the process. With a bit of practice, meal planning can become second nature and your solo meals will be as varied, delicious, and stress-free as ever.

a woman solo cooking on a pot on the stove with a wooden spoon
Photo By YuriArcurs

Maximizing Your Pantry and Freezer

Your pantry and freezer can be your best allies. By cleverly using pantry staples and maintaining a well-stocked freezer, you can whip up a variety of meals with minimal effort and fewer trips to the grocery store. Here’s how to make the most out of these invaluable resources.

Harness the Power of Pantry Staples

A well-stocked pantry is a treasure trove for the solo cook. Keeping it filled with non-perishable items such as pasta, grains, canned goods, a variety of spices, oils, and condiments can make meal preparation a breeze. When you have a base of pantry staples, you’re already halfway to a delicious meal.

For example, pasta can quickly transform into a delightful dinner with the addition of a simple sauce and some veggies. Canned beans can be the hero of a hearty salad or soup, and grains like rice, quinoa, or bulgur can serve as the base for countless dishes. Vinegar, Olive Oil, and Brown Sugar can be kept on hand to make a tasty sauce or dressing. Having these versatile ingredients at your disposal means you’re always just a few steps away from a meal with ingredients you already have on hand.

Building a Freezer Stash of Delicious Meals

Having a selection of freezer-friendly meals at your fingertips can be a lifesaver on busy days or when you’re simply not in the mood to cook and don’t have any fresh foods available. Invest some time in preparing and freezing meal portions that can be easily reheated when needed. Dishes like casseroles, soups, stews, and cooked grains are all excellent candidates for freezing.

Don’t forget about leftovers! Freezing leftovers not only helps minimize waste but also is an easy way to keep a variety of meal options ready to go. For example, if you are making a chili one night but don’t want to have chili all week you might freeze the remaining portions for a quick meal in the future. These small batch meals can then be re-invented into new meals or enjoyed as is, saving you time and effort. Here are some ideas to re-invent your leftover chili into different meals:

  • Chili Stuffed Peppers: Scoop the chili into hollowed-out bell peppers, top with cheese, and bake until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted.
  • Chili Mac and Cheese: Combine the chili with cooked macaroni and cheese sauce for a flavorful twist on classic mac and cheese.
  • Chili Nachos: Layer tortilla chips with chili, cheese, jalapeños, and any other desired toppings, then bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Chili Baked Potatoes: Top baked potatoes with warmed chili, cheese, sour cream, and green onions for a hearty and satisfying meal.
  • Chili Dogs: Serve your leftover chili on top of a hotdog in a bun for a nostalgic quick dinner.
  • Chili Salad: Use leftover chili as a flavorful topping for a bed of greens, adding toppings like diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, avocado, and dressing of your choice.

We like to use Souper Cubes to build our Freezer stash

What are Super Cubes? Souper Cubes are a great addition to your kitchen! They sturdy silicone trays with compartments with lids. They are designed for portion control and easy storage for single serving meals. The individual cubes, once frozen, can be popped out and stored in a freezer bag or container, freeing up the tray for more recipes. These are great to add to your kitchen when cooking for one, as it allows you to make larger batches of soups, stews, or sauces and then freeze individual servings for later use and no waste.

Souper Cubes 2 Cup Silicone Freezer Tray With Lid - Easy Meal Prep Container and Kitchen Storage Solution - Silicone Mold for Soup and Food Storage - Aqua - 2-Pack

Souper Cubes 1 Cup Silicone Freezer Tray With Lid - Easy Meal Prep Container and Kitchen Storage Solution - Silicone Molds for Soup and Food Storage - Aqua - 2-Pack
Souper Cubes Stoneware - 5" Square Baking Dish - Ceramic Baking Pan Set - Kitchen Essentials and Bakeware - Set of 2 - Cranberry

Investing time in planning meals, creating shopping lists, and employing meal-prepping strategies can significantly improve the cooking experience for a single individual. Furthermore, utilizing pantry staples and the freezer can help streamline meal preparation while minimizing waste and grocery store trips.

Choosing Your Cooking Style: Single Serve Meals vs. Small Batch Cooking

When it comes to cooking for one, finding a style that suits your lifestyle can make all the difference. Two popular approaches are single serve meals and small batch cooking. Each has its own advantages and potential drawbacks, and understanding these can help you decide which approach is best for you.

Exploring Single Serve Meals

If you love variety and enjoy cooking, single serve meals could be your ideal solution. These meals, tailored specifically for one, allow you to try different dishes every day. The key benefits of single serve meals include:

  1. Perfect and Smaller Portions: You prepare just what you need, which can help avoid overeating and control portions.
  2. Minimized Waste: By cooking only what you’ll eat, you reduce the chances of food waste.
  3. Daily Variety: With no leftovers to work through, you can enjoy a different meal every day if you wish.

But be mindful, there could be a few challenges:

  • Cooking Time: Preparing meals frequently means investing time in the kitchen, and often, the preparation and cooking time for a single serving is nearly as long as cooking in bulk.
  • Cost: Buying ingredients for single serve meals might sometimes be costlier compared to purchasing in larger quantities.

Discovering Small Batch Cooking and Meal Prep

If you’re pressed for time or prefer to cook less frequently, small batch cooking or meal prep may be the way to go. This approach involves preparing several servings of a meal at once and saving the extras for later. Here are some of the advantages:

  1. Economical: Buying and cooking in bulk can often save money and time.
  2. Efficient: Preparing multiple meals at once reduces the amount of time you need to spend cooking throughout the week.
  3. Balanced Eating: With planned and prepared meals on hand, is a great way to maintain a nutritious diet.

However, small batch cooking may present a few hurdles:

  • Storage Needs: You’ll need enough fridge or freezer space to store the additional meals.
  • Limited Variety: While you can mix and match to some extent, you may find yourself eating the same meal multiple times in a week which can lead to food fatigue.

Ultimately, the choice between single serve meals and small batch cooking depends on your personal lifestyle and preferences. Both methods offer benefits and require certain considerations. Embrace the method that resonates most with your cooking style, or better yet, blend both approaches to create a flexible cooking plan that’s uniquely suited to your needs! For example, it might make sense to batch prep or meal prep your lunches since you need a quick meal to grab and go while you aren’t home and then create single serving meals for dinner when you have more time. There’s no right or wrong approach here.

A woman holding a bowl ready to eat
Photo By YuriArcurs

Mastering Cooking Techniques: The Solo Chef’s Guide

With the right techniques, you can whip up diverse, delicious dishes that cater perfectly to your palate when you are cooking for yourself. Here are some versatile cooking methods to consider when cooking solo:

Air Frying: The Easiest Way to Make a Fast Dinner

An air fryer can be your best friend when cooking for one. This popular kitchen gadget uses hot air circulation to ‘fry’ foods without the need for excessive oil, reducing calorie and fat content without compromising taste or texture. From vegetables and proteins to guilty pleasure snacks, air fryers offer a healthier twist on traditional frying. They’re available in various sizes to suit your needs and can easily accommodate single servings. The bonus: it’s a kitchen appliance that doesn’t take up too much countertop space!

Instant Vortex 2QT Mini Air Fryer, Small Air fryer that Crisps, Reheats, Bakes, Roasts for Quick Easy Meals, Includes over 100 In-App Recipes, is Dishwasher-Safe, from the Makers of Instant Pot, Black

DASH Tasti-Crisp™ Electric Air Fryer Oven, 2.6 Qt., Black – Compact Air Fryer for Healthier Food in Minutes, Ideal for Small Spaces - Auto Shut Off, Digital, 1000-Watt
COSORI Air Fryer Pro LE 5-Qt Airfryer, Quick and Easy Meals, UP to 450℉, Quiet, 85% Oil less, 130+ Recipes , 9 Customizable Functions, SHAKE Reminder, Compact, Dishwasher Safe

Roasting: Unlocking Rich Flavors

Roasting is a cooking technique that enhances the natural flavors of your ingredients. It involves using dry heat, often in an oven, to cook your food to perfection. It’s ideal for smaller cuts of meat like chicken breasts or fish filets, and for enhancing the sweetness in vegetables like brussel sprouts, bell peppers, onions, or tomatoes. The result? Tender, juicy dishes brimming with flavor. The best part? You can do all of this right in your oven and multi task while your dinner is cooking.

Stir-Frying: Quick, Easy, and Nutritious

Stir-frying is a time-saving technique that delivers flavorful, balanced meals. By quickly cooking small, evenly-sized pieces of food in a hot pan with a bit of oil, you can put together a nutritious meal in minutes. The versatility of stir-frying allows you to experiment with a variety of ingredients – from different meats to an array of vegetables, and even noodles.

Steaming: Simplicity at Its Best

For simplicity and health, it’s hard to beat steaming. This technique involves cooking food in the steam from boiling water, retaining more nutrients and making dishes easier to digest. Whether it’s vibrant vegetables like broccoli and carrots, or lean proteins such as fish or chicken, steaming offers a healthy, straightforward cooking option. With a steamer basket or a microwave steamer, you can steam your meals with minimal equipment and effort.

Microwave Cookware 6 in 1 [ Made in Japan] Freezer & Oven Safe, Vegetable, Rice, Ramen Steamer BPA Free (Black)

DELUXE Vegetable Steamer, Collapsible and Expandable Stainless-Steel Steam Insert Rack for Steaming Food, Compatible with Instant Pot and 3, 6, 8 Qt Cooking Pan (Small, 5.3 to 9.5 Inches)
Microwave Cookware Steamer- 3 Piece Microwave Cooker w Food Container, Removable Strainer and Locking Steam Vent Lid- BPA Free, Fridge and Freezer Safe | 1.3 Liters, 6x6x4 Inches

Microwaving: Convenience is Key

For the solo cook in a hurry, the microwave oven can be a lifesaver. From pre-packaged, single-serving meals to simple homemade dishes like oatmeal or scrambled eggs, the microwave is a convenient solution. It’s also perfect for reheating leftovers, ensuring you can enjoy your small-batch cooking efforts over several meals.

2 sets Microwave Egg Cooker,1 Minute Fast Egg Hamburg Omelet Maker Kitchen Cooking Tool(Red and clear)

Our Favorite Microwave Accessory

This little gadget will poach or steam an egg for an easy breakfast

Remember, cooking for one is an opportunity to explore and experiment. By mastering these techniques, you can enjoy a variety of tasty, nutritious meals that fit into your lifestyle with ease.

Kitchen Essentials: The Solo Cook’s Toolbox

While cooking for one might seem straightforward, having the right tools in your kitchen can significantly streamline the process. The following kitchen essentials will not only make your cooking endeavors more efficient but will also enhance the quality and variety of your meals.

1. Quality Chopping Knife

At the heart of every kitchen is a good-quality chopping knife. A sharp, well-balanced knife can make food preparation safer, quicker, and more enjoyable. Whether you’re chopping vegetables, slicing meat, or mincing herbs, a versatile chef’s knife is a worthwhile investment.

Cutluxe Santoku Knife – 7" Chopping Knife, Vegetable Knife – Forged High Carbon German Steel – Full Tang & Razor Sharp – Ergonomic Handle Design – Artisan Series

2. Cutting Board

A durable cutting board is another essential tool. Opt for a material that is easy to clean and gentle on your knives, such as wood or bamboo. Having a dedicated surface for food preparation helps maintain cleanliness and provides a stable area for chopping and slicing.

Tribal Cooking Cutting Boards - 3 Set - Warrior Strength Small to Extra Large Cutting Boards for Kitchen, Meat, Vegetables - Dishwasher Safe, Juice Groove, Non-Slip Rubber Chopping Board Set

3. Non-Stick Skillet

A non-stick skillet is an incredibly versatile piece of cookware, ideal for everything from frying eggs to sautéing vegetables or cooking meats. It uses less oil than traditional skillets and allows for easier cleanup, making it a great choice for solo cooks.

BALLARINI Parma by HENCKELS 3-pc Nonstick Pot and Pan Set, Made in Italy, Set includes 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch fry pan

4. Small Saucepan

A small saucepan is perfect for cooking for one. It’s ideal for boiling eggs, heating soup, cooking grains, or making sauces. Look for a saucepan with a lid for extra versatility.

BALLARINI Parma by HENCKELS 2.8-qt Nonstick Sauce Pan with Lid, Made in Italy, Durable and Easy to clean

5. Baking Sheet or Dish

A baking sheet is useful for everything from roasting vegetables to baking fish filets or chicken breasts. It’s also the perfect tool for reheating leftovers or making a single-serving dessert.

USA Pan Bakeware Half Sheet Pan, Set of 2, Aluminized Steel

Pyrex Deep Baking Dish Set (6-Piece, BPA-Free Lids), Model:
Razab LARGE 7.6 Cups/1800 ML/1.9 Qt Glass Loaf Pan with Lids (Set of 2) - Meatloaf Pan BPA free Airtight Lids Grip Handle Easy Carry, Microwave and Oven Safe - Loaf Pans For Baking Bread, Cakes

6. Air Fryer

An air fryer, as mentioned earlier, is a modern kitchen gadget that allows you to fry foods with minimal to no oil. It’s perfect for cooking single servings, and it does so in less time than a conventional oven.

Instant Vortex 2QT Mini Air Fryer, Small Air fryer that Crisps, Reheats, Bakes, Roasts for Quick Easy Meals, Includes over 100 In-App Recipes, is Dishwasher-Safe, from the Makers of Instant Pot, Black

DASH Tasti-Crisp™ Electric Air Fryer Oven, 2.6 Qt., Black – Compact Air Fryer for Healthier Food in Minutes, Ideal for Small Spaces - Auto Shut Off, Digital, 1000-Watt
COSORI Air Fryer Pro LE 5-Qt Airfryer, Quick and Easy Meals, UP to 450℉, Quiet, 85% Oil less, 130+ Recipes , 9 Customizable Functions, SHAKE Reminder, Compact, Dishwasher Safe

7. Silicone Spatula

A silicone spatula is heat-resistant, non-scratch, and flexible, making it perfect for cooking and baking. It’s ideal for scraping bowls, stirring ingredients, or flipping food in your skillet.

Pack of 2 Silicone Solid Turner,Non Stick Slotted Kitchen Spatulas,High Heat Resistant BPA Free Cooking Utensils,Ideal Cookware for Fish,Eggs,Pancakes (Black)

Cuisinart CTG-00-S3MSJ Mini Silicone Spatulas, Set of 3, Jewel

8. Mixing Bowls

A set of mixing bowls in various sizes is essential for any kitchen. They’re useful for everything from mixing ingredients to serving salads or storing leftovers.

Pyrex Smart Essentials 3-Piece Prepware Mixing Bowl Set, 1-Qt, 1.5-Qt ,and 2.5-Qt Glass Mixing Bowls, Dishwasher, Microwave and Freezer Safe

Pyrex 8 Piece Ribbed Bowl (4) Set Including Assorted Colored Locking Lids (Ribbed)
Mixing Bowls Set with Airtight Lids, 20PCS Stainless Steel, Nesting Bowls with 3 Grater Attachments & Non-Slip Bottoms, Size7, 4, 3, 2, 1.5, 1QT Bowls for Baking&Prepping

9. Food Scale

A food scale is an invaluable tool for solo cooks looking for precision and control. With a food scale, you can accurately measure ingredients directly into your cooking vessel, eliminating the need for multiple measuring cups and reducing kitchen clutter. This handy tool ensures you’re using the exact quantities specified in recipes, contributing to better results, particularly in baking where exact proportions matter.

Etekcity Food Kitchen Scale, 22lb Digital Weight Scale Grams and Ounces Rechargeable Waterproof Tool for Weight Loss, Cooking, Baking, Meat, Bread, Large 0.05oz/1g Accuracy

Greater Goods High Capacity Kitchen Scale - A Premium Food Scale That Weighs in Grams & Ounces w/a 22 Pound Capacity | Feat. a Hi-Def LCD Screen and Stainless Steel Platform | Designed in St. Louis

10. Souper Cubes

When you’re cooking for one, Souper Cubes can be a game-changer. These silicone trays are specifically designed for freezing soups, sauces, stews, and even smoothies into perfect, single-serving cubes. The beauty of Souper Cubes lies in their practical design – with measured lines for portion control, a rigid frame for easy maneuvering, and a lid to protect contents from freezer burn.

Souper Cubes make it incredibly convenient to prepare meals in bulk and freeze them for later use, offering a time-saving solution for solo cooks. If you’re looking to simplify your meal prep and reduce food waste, incorporating Souper Cubes into your kitchen toolkit is a wise move.

Souper Cubes 2 Cup Silicone Freezer Tray With Lid - Easy Meal Prep Container and Kitchen Storage Solution - Silicone Mold for Soup and Food Storage - Aqua - 2-Pack

Souper Cubes 1 Cup Silicone Freezer Tray With Lid - Easy Meal Prep Container and Kitchen Storage Solution - Silicone Molds for Soup and Food Storage - Aqua - 2-Pack
Souper Cubes Stoneware - 5" Square Baking Dish - Ceramic Baking Pan Set - Kitchen Essentials and Bakeware - Set of 2 - White

11. Vegetable Chopper

Imagine this – you’re meal prepping your lunch for the week and juggling many tasks in the kitchen. What if I told you there’s a tool that could be your best buddy? Yep, that’s the vegetable chopper! It’s a real time-saver, zipping through veggies with consistency every time. No more knife slips – it’s super safe too. Plus, its space-saving design and easy clean-up makes it the friendly kitchen helper you’ve always dreamed of! Trust me, cooking becomes so much more fun and effortless with it around!

Fullstar Vegetable Chopper - Spiralizer Vegetable Slicer - Onion Chopper with Container - Pro Food Chopper - Slicer Dicer Cutter - (4 in 1, White)

12. Meal Prep Containers

Finally, meal prep containers are a must for anyone cooking for one. They’re perfect for storing leftovers or prepping meals ahead of time. Opt for microwave-safe, dishwasher-friendly containers for added convenience.

Bentgo® Glass All-in-One Salad Container - Large 61-oz Salad Bowl, 4-Compartment Bento-Style Tray for Toppings, 3-oz Sauce Container for Dressings, and Built-In Reusable Fork (Lavender)

PrepNaturals 4 Pack 34 Oz Glass Meal Prep Containers - Dishwasher Microwave Freezer Oven Safe - Glass Storage Containers with Lids (Multi-Compartment)
Ello Duraglass 3.4 Cup Meal Prep Sets 10Pc, 5 Pack Set- Glass Food Storage Container with Silicone Sleeve and Airtight BPA-Free Plastic Lids, Dishwasher, Microwave, and Freezer Safe, Evening Orchard

Remember, you don’t need an excessively stocked kitchen to create delicious, nutritious meals. With these essential tools, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate your solo cooking journey with confidence and ease. 

Cooking for One Meal Ideas

Quick and Easy Dinners

For those with a busy schedule, quick and easy dinners are a must. Try dishes such as stir-fried vegetables with tofu or shrimp, sheet pan dinners, spaghetti aglio e olio, or a simple omelet with a side salad. These recipes take less than 30 minutes from start to finish and require minimal ingredients.

Check out some delicious dinners on The Solo Spoon blog.

Protein and Rice Bowls

Rice bowls provide a balanced meal filled with flavor and can be a form of comfort food. Options include teriyaki chicken with steamed broccoli or salmon with asparagus and a lemon drizzle. Cook enough rice for a few days and mix and match your protein and vegetable pairings to keep it interesting.

Check out some single-serving recipes on The Solo Spoon blog:

Southwest Chicken and Rice Bowl

Southwest Chicken and Rice Bowl

Chicken Teriyaki Pineapple Rice Bowl

Chicken Teriyaki Pineapple Rice Bowl

Salmon Vermicelli Bowl

Salmon Vermicelli Bowl

Satisfying Salads

A salad doesn’t have to be boring. For a more filling option, try combining leafy greens with grains like quinoa or barley, roasted vegetables, or nuts and seeds. Top it off with lean proteins like grilled chicken or tofu and a light dressing. Try experimenting with various textures and flavors.

Hearty Soups

Soups can be a comforting and nutritious meal. Some easy recipes to try are lentil soup, tomato basil soup, or miso soup with vegetables. Make a large batch and enjoy the leftovers throughout the week, either as a main dish or as a side to sandwiches or salads.

Filling Sandwiches

Sandwiches can also be hearty and delightful. Choose whole grain bread and stuff it with lean protein like turkey or deli chicken, along with avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes. Don’t be afraid to try unusual combinations like hummus and cucumber or even sautéed mushrooms with onions.

Balanced Breakfasts

A balanced breakfast sets the tone for the day. Options include whole-grain toast with avocado and eggs, overnight oats with berries and nuts, or a green smoothie with banana and spinach. Vary your choices and ensure they contain a mix of protein, healthy fats, and whole grains.

Check out some breakfast options on The Solo Spoon blog:

Hashbrown Egg Bake Meal Prep

Hashbrown Egg Bake Meal Prep

Single Serve Cinnamon Sugar Baked Oats

Single Serve Cinnamon Sugar Baked Oats

Chocolate Chia Pudding Meal Prep

Chocolate Chia Pudding Meal Prep

Delectable Desserts

Indulge in a sweet treat without the guilt. Choose from healthier dessert options like greek yogurt with honey and berries, dark chocolate squares, or make single-serving mug cakes. Satisfy your sweet tooth without overindulging by focusing on portion control and natural sweeteners.

Check out some dessert options on The Solo Spoon blog.

Small Batch Rice Krispie Treats

Small Batch Rice Krispie Treats

Fruit Nachos for One

Fruit Nachos for One

Peach Crisp for One

Peach Crisp for One

Tips for Reducing Food Waste: Smart Strategies for Solo Cooks

As a solo cook, managing food waste can be a challenge. Fortunately, with the right approach, you can reduce waste significantly, promoting a sustainable cooking practice while saving money. Here are some smart tips on buying, storing, and using perishable ingredients wisely:

1. Buy Smart

When grocery shopping, focus on buying only what you need. Plan your meals for the week, make a list, and stick to it. Consider purchasing smaller quantities of fresh produce and perishable items to ensure you can consume them before they spoil.

2. Use Your Freezer

Your freezer is a powerful tool in combating food waste. Portion out leftovers or batch-cooked meals into single servings and freeze them for future meals. Freeze fresh fruits and vegetables that are about to spoil – they’ll be perfect for smoothies, stir-fries, or soups.

Follow these guidelines when freezing leftovers:

  • Cool your food completely before freezing to avoid raising the freezer’s temperature.
  • Use freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label your containers with the date and type of dish.
  • Wrap meat or poultry tightly to protect it from air exposure.
  • Defrost frozen leftovers in your refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave before reheating.
  • Keep in mind that frozen leftovers can generally be stored safely for 2-6 months. However, the quality may decline over time.
  • Use Souper Cubes as an innovative and convenient solution for freezing leftovers, especially soups, stews, chilies, and sauces. These silicone trays are designed to freeze and store your leftovers in perfect portions. 

3. Store Food Properly

Store foods correctly to extend their shelf life. For instance, keep root vegetables in a cool, dark place, store herbs like cut flowers in the fridge, and always keep your dry goods in airtight containers.

4. Understand Expiration Dates

Remember that “sell by” and “use by” dates are not necessarily hard and fast rules. Use your judgment – if it smells and looks fine, it’s probably still good to eat, some food might just be less fresh.

5. Utilize Leftovers Creatively

If you have leftovers, get creative! Transform yesterday’s dinner into today’s lunch with a little imagination. Use leftover chicken or leftover vegetables in a salad or stir-fry, or blend leftover veggies into a soup.

6. Make Use of Everything

Try to utilize every part of your ingredients. For example, vegetable peels can be used to make stocks, the zest of citrus fruits can add flavor to a variety of dishes, and overripe fruits are perfect for baking or smoothies.

7. Compost Food Scraps

If you have access to outdoor space or a local composting facility, composting is an excellent way to make use of your organic food waste. Compost can help improve your soil’s health and fertility, making your plants happy.

By adopting these practices, you’ll not only reduce food waste but also become a more mindful, efficient, and sustainable cook. 

Cooking for One Frequently Asked Questions

Making solo cooking more enjoyable can be achieved through various means. Here are a few ideas:

  1. View cooking as a form of self-care and a chance to cater to your taste buds.
  2. You can create a pleasant cooking environment by de-cluttering and organizing your kitchen.
  3. Engage in entertainment such as music or a podcast while cooking to make it a relaxing experience.
  4. Embrace mindful cooking by being present and appreciating the colors, aromas, and sounds involved in the process.
  5. Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with new recipes and plate your meals in an appealing way to make each dining experience special.

For more detailed tips, refer to the “Why Cooking for One Can Be Fun and Easy” section of this blog post.

Minimizing food waste when cooking for one involves careful planning and smart storage. Start by buying only what you need, focusing on versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes. Use your freezer effectively to store leftovers or surplus fresh produce. Store your food correctly to extend its shelf life, and understand that “sell by” and “use by” dates are guidelines, not hard rules. Be creative with your leftovers, and try to utilize every part of your ingredients. Composting is also an excellent way to handle organic waste if you have access to a garden.

For more tips on reducing food waste, refer to the “Tips for Reducing Food Waste” section of this blog post.

When cooking for just one person, focus on recipes that are easy, nutritious, and adaptable. Some ideas include:

  1. Stir-fries: These are quick, easy, and versatile. You can use any combination of vegetables and protein that you have on hand.
  2. Pasta: A simple pasta dish with a few fresh ingredients can be a satisfying meal.
  3. Omelets or Scrambled Eggs: They’re easy to make, packed with protein, and you can add in vegetables for extra nutrition.
  4. Salads: Salads can be hearty, filling, and endlessly customizable based on what you have on hand.
  5. Rice and Grain Bowls: We love pairing a protein and vegetable of your choice over a rice or any grain in a bowl for a quick and easy meal.
  6. Soups and Stews: They can be made in larger quantities and then portioned and frozen for future meals in Souper Cubes for easy portion storage.
  7. Sandwiches and Wraps: These are easy to put together and can be made using a variety of fillings to keep things interesting.

Remember, cooking for one gives you the freedom to experiment and cater to your own tastes. For more recipe ideas, refer to the “Top 10 Easy Recipes for One” section of this blog post.

Meal planning when cooking for one involves several strategic steps:

  1. Start with a list: Decide on the meals you’d like to prepare for the week, taking into account your preferences and nutritional needs. Create a shopping list based on these meals to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients on hand.
  2. Consider versatility: Choose ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes throughout the week. This not only saves money but also allows for variety in your meals. Using overlapping ingredients like sweet potatoes, red onion, brown rice, and ground beef in different recipes also gives you a variety of meal that you can make with different flavor profiles.
  3. Use leftovers wisely: Plan for meals that can be easily repurposed into different dishes. For example, leftover grilled chicken can be used in salads, sandwiches, or pasta dishes the next day.
  4. Prepare in advance: If possible, do some meal prep at the start of the week, such as chopping vegetables, marinating proteins, or cooking grains in a small batch. This can save time and make cooking homemade meals during the week much easier.
  5. Freeze and store: Don’t shy away from freezing. Learn to batch-cook smaller quantities of a meal and freeze individual portions for later. This saves time and effort on days when you don’t feel like cooking. We like using Souper Cubes for freezing perfect portions for those who are cooking for one.

Motivating yourself to cook for one can come from a variety of approaches.

Firstly, recognize that cooking for yourself is a form of self-care, and it gives you full control over your nutrition. You can cook what you love, and experiment with new recipes. Making your cooking environment enjoyable can also help –- consider listening to your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook while you cook.

To keep things interesting, set cooking challenges for yourself or try to learn a new recipe every week. Acknowledge every small achievement in your cooking journey, like mastering a difficult dish or successfully trying a new technique.

Remember, cooking for yourself isn’t just about feeding your body, but also about nourishing your soul. 

Cooking for one person on a budget can be both feasible and satisfying with a little planning. Here are some strategies to help you stay on budget with less money:

  1. Plan your meals: Plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list based on that. This helps avoid impulse purchases and food wastage.
  2. Buy in bulk and freeze: Buying in bulk is often cheaper. You can freeze the surplus in individual portions to use in the future, reducing waste and saving money.
  3. Utilize leftovers and reduce waste: Get creative with your leftovers to make new meals and save money. Reducing waste also means you’re getting the most out of what you’ve bought.
  4. Cook at home: Home-cooked meals are usually more cost-effective than dining out or ordering in. Plus, cooking at home allows you to control what goes into your food, making it a healthier option.
  5. Eat seasonally: Fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually cheaper and fresher. Plus, they add variety to your meals throughout the year.
  6. Utilize pantry staples: Ingredients like rice, pasta, canned goods, and frozen vegetables can be bought inexpensively and stored for longer periods. They can be used in various dishes, making them budget-friendly options.

Cooking for one can be both a challenge and a rewarding experience. By learning the right techniques and discovering recipes tailored to the single diner, anyone can enjoy delicious meals without feeling overwhelmed or wasteful​.

  1. Cooking for one offers several benefits:
    • Flexibility with ingredients: You have complete control over what goes into your meals. You can cater to your own tastes and dietary requirements without having to consider anyone else’s preferences​.
    • Mastering portion control: Solo cooking can help you control the quantity of each ingredient, creating balanced, nutritious meals that are the perfect size for you. This can help reduce food waste and promote healthier eating habits​.
    • Opportunity to experiment: Cooking for one is a great way to try out new recipes, flavors, and cooking techniques without the pressure of pleasing others. If a cooking experiment doesn’t work out as planned, you’re the only one who needs to know​.
  2. It’s important to consider individual dietary requirements when planning meals. You can adjust recipes or find alternatives to cater to specific dietary restrictions​.
  3. Setting a realistic budget for meals can help you make smart decisions when grocery shopping and meal planning. Strategies to save money include buying in-season produce, taking advantage of sales and discounts, opting for budget-friendly proteins, shopping the freezer aisle for ingredients you need less of, and using a local butcher or deli for individual portions of meat and cheese​.
  4. Time is a valuable resource. Assess your available time for meal preparation as it can affect the types of recipes you choose. Tips for saving time in the kitchen include meal or food prepping, using time-saving kitchen tools, and opting for easy-to-prepare recipes with minimal steps and fewer ingredients​.
  5. Mastering the art of meal planning can be a game-changer when you’re cooking for yourself. It reduces stress, saves time, leads to healthier choices, and minimizes waste​.

Check out this blog post for more information on how to cook for one person.


Embarking on your journey of cooking for one may initially seem like a daunting task. It can bring challenges unique to solo cooking, such as portion control, meal planning, and avoiding food waste. However, as we’ve discussed in this blog post, these hurdles can indeed be transformed into exciting opportunities to discover your culinary skills, experiment with new dishes, and enjoy the flexibility that comes with catering solely to your palate.

Armed with our tips and strategies for single people, you now possess the tools to make cooking for one not just manageable, but truly enjoyable. From mastering the art of meal planning and prepping to choosing the right cooking techniques and equipment, we hope this guide has empowered you to approach your kitchen with a renewed sense of confidence and enthusiasm.

Remember, cooking solo is a delightful form of self-care and an opportunity to explore the limitless world of culinary arts at your own pace. The kitchen is your canvas, and you hold the brush. Whether you’re a single individual, a college student, or someone who just needs to whip up a meal on your own occasionally, these strategies will make your solo cooking journey a rewarding experience. Embrace the joy of cooking for one and savor each bite knowing it was made by you, for you.

pin this for later!

Solo Cooking: The One Person Kitchen Pinterest Pin

Share this post with a solo cook

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *