How to enjoy cooking for one

Meal planning saves time and is good for your budget. Picture: Pexels/Dana Tentis

Meal planning saves time and is good for your budget. Picture: Pexels/Dana Tentis

Published Jul 1, 2024


Scores of people are currently living alone, either through choice or circumstances.

As a single person, finding the motivation to cook for yourself can be difficult, especially after a long day.

Coming up with meal ideas and finding recipes for just one person can seem like a chore, even if you know how to cook and have a full kitchen at your disposal.

Below are some ways to simplify cooking for one.

Preparing a couple of ingredients in advance to have on hand makes a big difference when cooking for one. Picture: Pexels/Dapur Melodi

Prepare a couple of ingredients to use in a variety of ways

Whether you have extra time to do some food preparation during the weekend or have a window at an off-time during the week, prepare some ingredients that could be useful in a variety of dishes so you have less work later.

For me, this usually means cutting up some vegetable (which is great for snacks or to use for meals), cooking and shredding chicken and boiling eggs.

Even if you don’t do a lot, every little bit helps. When you are desperate, you might be surprised how willing you are to use up the few items you have prepared.

Explore new flavours and cuisines

Spice up your cooking routine by exploring new flavours and cuisines. Experimenting with different ingredients, herbs and spices can add excitement to your kitchen.

Challenge yourself to try a new recipe each week or explore a cuisine you have never cooked before. This will not only expand your culinary skills but also keep your meals interesting and varied.

Plan your week in advance

Meal planning is important for everyone, whether you’re cooking for one or for six. Go to the grocery store with a list and know what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This ensures you don’t buy too much food, helps you reduce waste and keeps your food budget intact. Plus, you won’t have to think about what to make for dinner after work.

Stock up on staples

Keeping your cupboards stocked with a small number of staple ingredients means you will always be able to whip up a healthy meal quickly and easily.

These include items such as canned tomatoes, beans and tuna as well as frozen fruit and vegetables, dried herbs and spices, nuts, oil, vinegar, bouillon cubes, pasta, rice and flour.

Put on a podcast or a movie while you cook to make the experience more enjoyable. Picture: Pexels/Retha Ferguson

Don't cook in silence

Find an engaging podcast series, put the radio on, play some great music or download some cheery audiobooks.

You could even use hands-free or video calling to chat with a loved one while you pace about in the kitchen. You don’t have to be having a constant conversation, but it means you can cook “together” apart.

Make large amounts

Finding the time to cook healthy meals every day can be a challenge. There may also be nights when you simply don’t feel like cooking.

If you have a few meals in the freezer, you can quickly warm them up instead of choosing to ear fast food. Making large amounts of food at a time is the key. Rather than cooking a small meal, make enough so that you have leftovers.