Quick Cooking for One

How can I easily cook meals for one?
Quick Cooking for One

Need ideas for coping with restaurant buffets? Want some good snack ideas? In our Q&A series, WeightWatchers.com nutritionist and food editor Leslie Fink, MS, RD, answers questions about food, nutrition and weight loss.

Q: How can I easily cook meals for one?

A: Cooking for yourself, and only yourself, might seem like a daunting task: It's a lot of prep work for one person, you have to do both the cooking and the cleaning, and how do you halve a recipe that calls for a whole egg?

But if you think of ways you can make recipes last for more than one meal and learn simple ways to assemble last-minute meals, you may find cooking to be a rewarding experience.

Here are 7 tips to get you started:

Freeze it
Instead of trying to halve or quarter recipes that feed a standard family of four, look for recipes that freeze well so you can turn leftovers into homemade frozen dinners. Casseroles, lasagna, chili, soups and turkey burgers freeze especially well.

Use recipes in more than one way
Roast a small chicken, for example, and enjoy it with a baked sweet potato and broiled asparagus. Carve the rest and toss the meat into a salad, put it in a wrap with roasted vegetables, or put it on top of a homemade pizza later in the week.

Plan on eating a dish for several meals in a row
Enjoy your beef fajitas for dinner one day and take some leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Turn some remaining fajita filling into a quesadilla the following night by mixing in some light shredded cheese and extra salsa and heating it between two tortillas in a skillet.

Start with convenience food products
This strategy can cut back on lengthy preparation times. Buy frozen stir-fry vegetable mixes and cook a handful with an already marinated, store bought chicken breast that you cube. Buy small amounts of fresh vegetables from a salad bar to make yourself a salad tossed with a small can of water-packed tuna and your favorite low-fat salad dressing.

Prolong the life of your food
Don't fall prey to the single person's wasteland of rotten food. If you only use a quarter of a head of broccoli in a stir-fry, make sure to store the leftovers properly so they don't go to waste. For more information, check out our vegetable storage chart.

Have a repertoire of last-minute meal ideas handy
Try some of the quick concepts in No-Cook Dinners.

Strike a deal with other single friends.
If you promise to cook for them every Monday night, perhaps you can convince them to cook for you on another night each week.

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