You arrive home from work after a long day, it’s late at night, and you’re alone. You lack the motivation to start cooking. A nutritious meal is substituted for takeaway or skipped for a snack. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.When you live on your own you can fall out of love with cooking. It can seem more like a chore rather than a simple pleasure. Whether you love it or hate it, cooking for one can be a challenge.
Adapting to self-isolation has opened a new window into the world of home cooking. Not only are many of us finding new time to prioritize how we nourish ourselves, we’re finding it to be surprisingly fun and deliciously rewarding. If you’re lacking the inspiration or inclination to cook for one, we have some tips on how to rethink your relationship with food in a single-person household.
Let’s face the facts, it can be all too easy to fall into the habit of eating out when you’re a busy single person. This can add up to a small fortune with super-processed foods and hastily eaten snacks that have a negative effect on your overall well-being. Or perhaps your good intentions to cook are met with a pinch of loneliness and a lot of leftover waste. So how can we break through these kitchen barriers?
First of all, cooking for yourself can be turned into a daily ritual and way to unwind. Look at it as a self-care essential. A strategic grocery shopping trip can keep you stocked up with all the essentials for small-portion recipes and leftovers that last. Often, a lack of enjoyment for cooking for one can go hand in hand with a lack of culinary skills. If you’re not confident in the kitchen you can still make simple and nutritious meals at home that can help you develop a healthier relationship with food.
A lack of planning and ideas can result in an empty stomach come dinner time (we’ll get to “mealspiration” in a moment). When going grocery shopping for one (or meal planning and ordering online), buy a smaller selection of fresh ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes. Make a beeline to the deli counter for portion-controlled proteins, and look into local markets where you can pick up a handful of ingredients rather than pre-packaged produce.
Look at the freezer as your partner in crime. Ice cube trays are a handy way to freeze single portion sauces and herb cubes for seasoning. To get ahead of yourself in the kitchen you can also pre-chop vegetables and store in single-serving freezer bags. As well as being recipe-ready, your snack-time cravings are covered. Otherwise, frozen fruits and vegetables are a great alternative to control portions and avoid waste.
The same goes for unused ingredients and uneaten food – freeze instead of throwing away. Invest in enough Tupperware for those “one serving too many” moments or make a dinner that can turn into lunch. The trick to avoiding a groundhog day of the same meal spread out over several days is to make a meal for no more than two at a time.
Setting aside time each week to meal prep will save you time and make healthy eating on a busy schedule a breeze. This is the time to bring those delicious recipes (or quick and easy ones) into the kitchen. Here are some tips on what ingredients to prep to last you through a week.
Roasted vegetables are great to prep and mix up with items you already have in your pantry during the week. Select vegetables that are in season, and group together on trays to bake per cooking time. Separate your broccoli, cauliflower and red onions from your carrots, beets, and potatoes. This healthy meal is one that you can make as a batch and incorporate into other meals throughout the week.
Starches and grains can be prepared and stored in the fridge and combined with fresh ingredients for fast meals during the week. White rice, brown rice, quinoa, lentils or any other pulses or grains that float your boat.
Two baked chicken breasts can be enough protein for one week. You can season with herbs and spices or marinate in silicone bags. At the same time, you can batch boil eggs to keep in the fridge. If you pre-peel the eggs before storing they are easier to grab as a snack or slice up for a recipe.
For a healthy on the go snack, it’s easy to make a trail mix with whatever nuts and seeds you have on hand. Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sultanas and dried coconut can all be shaken together like a bag of goodies that are a healthier and cheaper alternative to store-bought mixes. Preparing fruit like washed and chopped strawberries can make another sweet snack between meals.
Keep your pantry stocked with non-perishables that are most cost-effective bought in bulk. Coffee or tea, oils, pasta, and grains can all be stored in airtight containers in your pantry. Along with this, you can prepare some spreads, snacks, and dressing.
Homemade pesto, hummus, and almond butter are easy to make in a blender with a few ingredients and can be stored in a jar. Dressings can be mixed together with oils, vinegar condiments like mustard to grab and go. Homemade granola is also fast and easy to make. You can combine it with almond milk, yogurt and other mixed in fruits and proteins.
Whip up granola at home with a base of oatmeal and add in nuts including hazelnuts and pecans, along with a sprinkling of a superfood like chia seeds. Flavor with salt, cinnamon, and honey. Glaze with coconut oil or ghee to add a crunch. After 15-20 minutes in the oven, the granola will be ready and a delicious aroma will have filled your home.
It’s easy to make simple and healthy easy meals when cooking for one. As well as reaching for your pre-prepared ingredients, you can whip together a one-bowl wonder in 15 minutes. A tasty poke bowl is a super easy and delicious meal. It can be made with leftover vegetables and a protein like salmon or vegetarian options like tofu.
The bowls are built with the base layer of a grain, garnished with fresh vegetables and topped off with a seasoned protein. For example, a base of brown rice can be combined with marinated salmon in miso and soy sauce. Carrots, shredded cucumbers, radishes, and tomatoes can add bulk to the bowl as well as some sliced avocado. Pour any leftover sauce and sprinkle with some sesame seeds and fresh lime.
A slow cooker is a secret weapon for one-pot wonders. If you don’t particularly like cooking but still want to eat healthier home-cooked food, this can be the best short cut. From chili and soups and casseroles and curries, you can throw all the ingredients together. With the benefit of not having to hang around the stove for hours. Instead, you can have hot meals to ready to return home to at the end of the day. It’s an easy meal for one person that tastes like you spent all day making it.
With the right equipment and space in the kitchen, cooking for one can become second nature. If you stay in an apartment with a fully-equipped kitchen, everything will be at hand to cook at home. If you live alone you won’t have the interruptions of housemates. In your own apartment, you can eat what you want, when you want, how you want.
Do you find recipes only to discover that you don’t have the mixing bowl, chefs knife or casserole pot? Your good intentions go to waste. Blueground’s apartments come fully furnished, with fully-equipped modern kitchens and dining areas that you can comfortably sit down and enjoy your meal in. It’s much easier to get motivated to cook at home if you’re living in an apartment that gives you space and amenities to do so. Start with a fully-furnished kitchen and let your tastebuds guide you through the rest.