Food & Nutrition

Cooking for one

Kitchen seriously neglected unless guests come over? We reveal simple ways to put the spark back into cooking for one.
Published 21 June 2018

Tips and recipes when cooking for one

Find cooking for one disheartening? It can be difficult to whip yourself into action when there’s no one else to impress, or feed, but luckily there are plenty of quick, easy and delicious ways to avoid getting stuck in a rut.

1. Learn to love thy kitchen

When living alone, it can be tempting to resort to the same old repertoire of food choices that you’ve made for the last few months in a row. If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to reignite your inner chef and fall in love with prepping and cooking food again. Rather than viewing cooking as a chore, make the time to enjoy it. Put on music, prepare a platter of fresh veggie sticks to snack on, and cook up a storm.

2. Maximise your cooking time

When cooking, prepare two or three dishes in bulk, such as soups or casseroles. Store single-sized portions in the fridge or freezer for reheating, and keep any leftovers to enjoy throughout the week, when you’re busy. Bake a big batch of biscuits or muesli slices so that you can divide them into individual snack bags and have plenty of healthy treats on hand.

3. Give your cupboards an overhaul

When eating by yourself, it pays to have a well-stocked pantry and freezer. Keep a good supply of non-perishables and meal starters, like dried wholemeal pasta and couscous, canned tomatoes, chickpeas and beans, sardines, tuna and frozen prawns, plus dried and frozen spices. Also, keep some frozen or canned vegetables (which retain their nutrients) handy. Top up your supplies with a trip to the supermarket on your way home from work each day or by using fresh, handpicked lettuce leaves or tomatoes from your backyard or balcony veggie garden. Keep a shopping list or notepad inside your pantry door and write down items as they get used, so you never fall short of essential supplies.

4. Make smart takeaway choices

While it can take some effort to keep track of the Points in takeaway dishes, there are also sneaky ways to stay on top of it. Pick up extras, such as salad, to balance out a takeaway meal for one. Pick up a barbecued chicken breast (remove the skin) or a small portion of diced, barbecued pork from your local Chinese restaurant. Add it to homemade stir-fried vegetables, along with plenty of fresh garlic and ginger and then serve with a small, portion-controlled amount of microwaved rice.

5. Read the nutrition labels

A growing number of food outlets and chains are displaying full nutrition and kilojoule information on their menus. This makes it easy to accurately track the Points in your small vegetarian pizza, roast beef salad sandwich or tuna pasta salad. It contains entries for more than 70 different restaurants, pubs and takeaway food outlets, as well as a wide variety of popular cuisines.

1 dish, 3 ways

Roast chicken

Day one: Add a baked potato and peas.

Day two: Toss shredded breast meat into an Asian coleslaw for lunch.

Day three: Make a pizza by topping a pita pocket with diced chicken, sliced mushrooms, rocket and parmesan.

Bolognaise sauce

Day one: Add pasta and salad.

Day two: Add Mexican spice and serve in a soft tortilla with avocado, grated carrot and low-fat tasty cheese.

Day three: Bake as a mini shepherd’s pie with a topping of mashed potato.

Chargrilled tuna fillets

Day one: Add grilled corn and salad.

Day two: Flake into a risotto with frozen peas, parmesan and basil.

Day three: Include in a salad of mixed greens, boiled egg, beans and olives.