All the single ladies, all the single ladies…

Shopping and cooking for one can be tricky sometimes. Believe me, I know. Recipes are usually designed for 4+ people and you buy bread in loaves, cereal in large boxes and eggs by the dozen. Whether you are a student, or just like me are living on your own, you can learn to shop for and cook tasty, healthy and inexpensive meals.

Although I don’t live on my own per se, I live with three guys, and while they do show some promise in the kitchen I prefer to cook my own meals, burning them a cinder in the process to ensure they are cooked to my liking. When I first started cooking for myself there was a lot of waste. I was (too) optimistic in my purchases and to my annoyance ended up throwing half the lot out. With some careful planning however I have just about mastered the art of shopping and cooking for one. Here are some tips I use…

Check your cupboards

To avoid wasting food that I already have, or buying things I don’t need, I go through my kitchen and take note of what I have and what is likely to go off soon. This helps me plan a shopping list and my meals for the week ahead. Also keeping a well-stocked cupboard ensures I always have some ingredients to hand to make a meal.  

Savvy shopping

woman looking at shopping list

First of all have a snack before you go to the supermarket; going hungry is a sure recipe for throwing your carefully constructed list out the window. Use a basket instead of a trolley as you can only buy what you manage to hold and finally stick to the list as best you can – this will avoid impulse buying and keep the price down.

Batch cook

One of my favourites: Most cookbooks cater for families but this doesn’t mean you have to stay away from those recipes. I usually cook a casserole, curry etc. and then freeze individual size portions for later. It’s great for those nights when I’m rushing and simply don’t have time to cook.

Reinvent leftovers

Plan meals so that you can use the extra food in new dishes. For example when I cook a chicken for my Sunday lunch, I use some leftovers for Monday night’s curry and the rest for Tuesday’s sandwich.

Avoid pre-packaged items

I used to pick up packets of sliced turkey but because I didn’t want to eat turkey sandwiches 4 days in a row I ended up throwing out half of the packet. I have since ventured to the deli counter which allows me to choose the number of slices I need. For other meats I visit the butchers so I don’t have to buy 500grams of beef!

In spite of what you may feel, cooking for one can have its advantages; you can eat what you want, when you want, and how you want. You can indulge your own quirky preferences and cravings (for me at the moment its chorizo) and explore new recipes without the stress of someone else’s opinion.

Further reading

Posted: 22/03/2013 10:06:51 by Emily Kelleher
Filed under: Cooking, Recipes, Shopping, Storing, Students


About Me

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Emily Kelleher
Hi, my name is Emily Kelleher and I am a Human Health and Nutrition Research Fellow at safefood. I’m a public health graduate with a keen interest in obesity and cardiovascular health and my day to day business involves reviewing the literature and report writing! When not buried in paper, I love the outdoors and at the weekend you will usually either find me on top of Torc Mountain in my beautiful hometown of Killarney or hiding behind a random lonely planet book planning my next adventure.