Cooking for 1 or 2

When you live in a smaller household or by yourself, it can be challenging to plan healthy meals. How much should I make? How can I make something without eating it for a whole week or throwing away a bunch of food? These could be questions you have asked yourself before when cooking for yourself or a smaller household.

Alice Henneman University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension Educator, has created a checklist of some items for “Planning Healthy Meals for One or Two” (2012). One of the general tips mentioned by Henneman is to cook once and eat twice. This is done by planning two meals from the same dish, separating food out before serving, eating the extra food within 3-4 days, or freezing the leftovers. However, it is important to note that not all foods freeze well; for example, watery foods (celery, cabbage, salad, etc.), creams/custards/milk-based sauces, and fried foods are all examples of foods that do not freeze well. So, if you are planning on freezing some of your leftovers, make sure they are a good option for freezing by checking out Purdue University Extension for some storing leftover tips:

Henneman also has some shopping tips and things to think about while you are at the store. If you choose to buy in bulk, try repackaging meat into smaller freezer bags and making smaller portions, as this can help avoid eating the same dish multiple times. Consider individual packaging of foods that you frequently eat from individual cartons of yogurt, string cheese, etc. Try buying fruit at different stages of ripeness and eat it as it becomes ripe. Buy frozen vegetables and only add what you need into dishes. Also, canned foods are an option as the nutrition is comparable to fresh/frozen.

Maybe you have a favorite dish or recipe you enjoy making, but it makes way too much food, and you do not want to deal with all the leftovers? Do not worry; as mentioned by Henneman in “Planning Healthy Meals for One or Two”, recipes can frequently be reduced by 1/2 or 1/3. You can also reduce your pan size when reducing your recipes too. For half a recipe that normally bakes in a 9x13 pan, you can use a square 8-inch pan or a round 9-inch pan. It is also recommended to reduce the cooking temperature by 25° if you are substituting a glass pan for a metal one.

Even though it sometimes feels challenging cooking for one or two people with some planning, it can become an easier task.

For more information on cooking for one or two or other delicious recipes, check out the Richland County Nutrition Coalition Facebook page at, and the Pinterest page at


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