5 Ways to Take Charge of Solo Cooking

Meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking can be an arduous tasks for any household. For a home of one though, it's a whole different struggle. With the right plan and approach, cooking for yourself doesn't have to be daunting and dreadful. It can be a pleasant and healthy experience.

Meal Prep

Meal prep maximizes your time during the week and streamlines the daily cooking process. Meal prep is also an excellent solution for cooking healthily. After all, preparation is the key to success for healthy eating, says DailyBurn. You're less likely to default to prepackaged foods, takeout or delivery if prepared food awaits once you come home. Dedicate a time to brainstorm what you want to eat, grocery shop, prepare ingredients and cook at home.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • Splurge on high-quality tupperware to store your dinners

  • Season meats three different ways in one pan, so you have some variety throughout the week

  • Chop, spiralize or roast vegetables in bulk

  • Pre-assemble salads in mason jars

  • Store extras in the freezer for emergencies

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping for one can be a slippery slope. You run the risk of either shopping impulsively and dropping a ton of money at the store or restricting yourself to the bare essentials. First, take inventory of your fridge and make a list. Don’t shop hungry. During the trip, stay focused and determined to avoid store traps that entice you to make unnecessary impulse purchases.

Lifehacker recommends using the tool StillTasty, "the ultimate shelf life guide.” It’s an easy reference to keep track of how long produce stays good. Do you absolutely hate grocery shopping altogether? Try using services like Peapod or Blue Apron to have ingredients and recipes delivered straight to your door.

Potluck Club

You can lose momentum planning, shopping and cooking for one each week. And eating alone can be a bit underwhelming sometimes. A regularly scheduled potluck extravaganza with friends or family is a fun way to reinvigorate your culinary skills while also getting the gang together. Trade off hosting a potluck dinner where everyone brings over a dish, whether it's a traditional favorite or a trendy new Pinterest-inspired recipe. Change up hosting responsibilities each week.

Motivation

You may find that sticking to a healthy home-cooked diet is exhausting. Perhaps you start to resort to takeout, ramen and cereal. Cooking on your own and for yourself takes willpower, effort and motivation. Writer and chef Dana Veldon describes eating something easy rather than healthy as "Why Bother Syndrome.” To combat this:

  • Eat a piece of fruit or trail mix before leaving work to prevent feeling famished before cooking dinner and resorting to a meal of snacks instead.

  • Keep easy go-to recipes in your repertoire like rice bowls, burrito bowls, spaghetti squash variations (in lieu of pasta dishes) and chicken casseroles.

  • Approach cooking as a therapeutic and peaceful experience. This is a time to destress and focus only on the task at hand. Enjoy music, a glass of wine and your newest kitchen creation.

Leftovers

Usually cooking provides you with enough food for at least a second meal of leftovers. You may have to grab a few items at the grocery store, but building a recipe from the ingredients you already have can help keep costs down. Check out these leftover recipes that the Kitchn guarantees are actually better the next day.

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