Cooking from scratch and eating at home are some of the best ways to save money on your food budget, but cooking for one or two can be challenging. Maybe you’re worried about eating the same leftovers for an entire week. Perhaps you struggle with being motivated to cook for yourself at all when there’s no one else to appreciate it with you.
Whatever your home situation is, you can make eating at home work for you. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Here are some great tips for cooking for one or two:
Plan for leftovers
Just because you are cooking for a smaller number of people doesn’t mean you have to cut back the recipe so it makes less. By making a normal size recipe, you’ll have to cook less often.
You probably won’t want to eat the same thing for five days in a row, so change it up. Cook two nights in a row and then alternate the leftovers so you don’t have the same meal twice in a row.
Leftovers also make a quick and easy lunch to bring to work (or eat at home). My husband enjoys a change from the standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I always use these Rubbermaid containers when I send leftovers with my husband (or put them in the freezer). They are amazing! I can send anything– soup, yogurt, fruit salad– and they never leak!
Be creative with leftovers
We like to use our leftovers creatively so we don’t get the same exact meal night after night. For example, I’ll cook salsa chicken in the crock pot and we’ll have it over rice the first night. The next night we’ll have the salsa chicken in burritos with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream.
Think outside of the casserole. How can you reuse different parts of your meal? You can make leftover mashed potatoes into potato pancakes. Spaghetti sauce makes a great topping for steamed squash. Leftover broccoli goes great in quiche. Mr. SixFiguresUnder loves sandwiches made from extra breakfast pancakes, especially if they have chocolate chips in them. The possibilities are endless.
Learn to Love your Freezer
Learn the many different foods that freeze well. Freezing foods buys you extra time to use them before they go bad. For example, a gallon of milk is much cheaper than two half gallons. If you can’t use a whole gallon before your milk goes bad, pour half of your milk into another container and freeze it.
Package leftovers in individual servings and put them in the freezer for a quick lunch or dinner down the road. By doing this, you are essentially make your own “TV dinners,” only cheaper and healthier than what you’d buy at the store.
Be vigilant about not letting your produce or leftovers go bad. Keep your fridge clean and organized so you can see what you have.
Before food goes bad, use it or stick it in the freezer. Keep a bag with veggies to use for soup or vegetable stock. Veggies and fruits can be frozen to use for smoothies or baked goods.
Buy in bulk
You’ve noticed that single servings and smaller portioned food items can be really overpriced. Don’t let being a family of one or two stop you from getting the savings of buying in bulk.
Try splitting a large purchase with friends or family. This might be buying a 25-lb bag of rolled oats and splitting it a few ways, or it could be sharing the meat from a co-owned cow or pig.
Repackage and freeze foods in quantities that are right for you. I love having the right portions frozen and ready to use after I brown ground beef stretched with veggies.
You Can Do It!
No matter what your situation you can make cooking at home work well for you. You deserve a home-cooked meal. Your wallet and your palate will thank you!
What about you?
- How do you making eating at home work for you?
- What tips do you have for others who are cooking for one or two?
- Any favorite recipes or ideas to share?
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