Beginners Guide To Cooking - Learn The Basics
How to Cook for Just Yourself
It's tempting to avoid cooking when you're living by yourself, but it's a great to stay healthy and save money. Change how you grocery shop so you're only buying what you need and not throwing out wasted food every week. Make meals that you enjoy and eat the leftovers or store the food so you can use it in other meals. You can make meal prep easier for yourself by cooking in large batches and storing individual portions.
Shopping For Groceries
Make a weekly meal plan according to your schedule.Sit down with your schedule for the week and use it to make a list of meals. Consider how busy your day is and how much time you have to prepare food each day. You should also keep the weather in mind so you plan meals you actually want to eat.
- For example, if you'll be running errands or working all weekend, you'll want meals that are simple to prepare. Or if it looks like the weather will be extremely hot for several days in a row, plan to make meals that don't require turning on the oven.
Plan meals that you enjoy.Look over the list of meals you've made and ask yourself if you'll be excited about eating them. If there are meals you don't really want to eat, you'll be less likely to actually make them. Instead, schedule meals that inspire you or stick with your favorites.
- To get inspiration, try a new recipe or ingredient every week. You might just find a new favorite flavor.
Write down a grocery list.Once you've got a list of meals, look through your pantry to see what ingredients you already have and what you'll need to buy. Write down the ingredients you need to get and only buy what you'll need for the week (or however long it is between your shopping trips).
- Divide your grocery list into sections to make grocery shopping faster and more efficient. For example, create a produce, meat or dairy, dry goods, and frozen section on your list.
Stick to your grocery list to stay on-budget.Planning your meals and following a grocery list will really help you reduce your grocery bill. Remind yourself to only buy what you need for the week, especially when it comes to produce. Try to balance your budget by considering the cost of your meals.
- For example, if you want to splurge and make an expensive meal one night, you might want to eat leftovers or a few inexpensive meals to balance out your grocery budget.
Buy smaller portions.It might seem like a good idea to stock up when your grocery store runs sales, but you'll either need to store or use large portions of food which can be difficult. Instead, only buy what you'll need for the week. Use the bulk bins to measure out just what you'll need or use the meat counter to buy small cuts.
- If a recipe calls for an ingredient and you'll only need a very small amount of it, check if there are any substitutions you could do instead of buying a new ingredient.
Adjust recipes to make fewer servings.Read recipes before you make them to see how many servings they make. If a recipe makes more than you'd like, you can cut the recipe down to a more manageable size. Keep in mind that if a recipe serves 8 to 10, you probably shouldn't scale it down to 1 or it may not turn out properly. Instead, cut the recipe in half. You can eat leftovers or freeze them.
- Avoid cutting down baking recipes since these rely on exact measurements (volume, surface area, temperature and time).
Cook large portions of food to divide up.Cook a large batch of food that can work as a base for other meals through the week and freeze them to use in future recipes. Or portion the food into small containers and freeze them. Batch cooking is a great way to get a jump on meal prep for especially busy weeks.
- For example, if you only have one or two nights to cook for yourself, use them to make large batches of steamed grains, cooked chicken, or roasted veggies. Store them until you're ready to add them to meals throughout the week.
Make simple meals to give yourself a break.Have a few basic meals planned for days when you don't really feel like cooking or making something from a recipe. These simple meals should be things that you can prepare without a recipe or with little effort. For example, make yourself:
- Grain and protein bowls
Turn leftovers into meals.While you can eat the same exact meal several days in a row, you might become tired of it. Instead, use elements of the meal to create a new dish the next day. For example, if you made a roasted chicken, shred the chicken to use in soups, casseroles, pastas, or salads.
- Using leftovers is budget friendly, will stretch your food, and will reduce food waste.
Take leftovers for lunch the next day.If you don't want to use leftovers for the next day's dinner, consider taking it for your lunch. You may need to add a few things to round out your lunch. For example, if you have a leftover piece of grilled salmon that you had with rice and veggies, eat the piece of fish with a tossed salad and fresh fruit for lunch.
Remember to make dessert.You can make an entire pie or cake for yourself and eat it throughout the week. Or you can make small portions of dessert for more variety. Try desserts that you can cook in individual containers or desserts that make a lot.
- Small puddings, cookies, cupcakes, and ice cream are all desserts that give you more control over portion size.
Make standard recipes and freeze the extra servings.Just because you're cooking for one doesn't mean you can't make standard recipes. Eat what you like and then portion the remaining food into freezer safe containers. Organize your freezer so you can easily find freezer meals or food portions. This way, you can make your own frozen dinners.
Label and date frozen food.Use a permanent marker to label each package of food that you store in the freezer. You should also write down portion sizes so you can easily tell how much food is in each package. Write down the date you froze the food and use the food within a month or two.
- Labeling is especially important if you fill your freezer with small portions of food since you won't be able to remember what you've frozen.
Organize your freezer.Whether you're storing large freezer bags full of food or lots of small freezer containers, you'll need to place them in the freezer so you can easily find what you need. For example, put whole meals in one section of your freezer, parts of meals (such as cooked grains or proteins) in another section, and desserts in another section.
- Sort through your freezer every few months to reorganize and use up foods.
QuestionHow do I tell if eggs are still good?KateKatey GirlCommunity AnswerThe easiest way is to fill a bowl with cool water, and gently place an egg in the water. If it remains on its side, it's very fresh. If it's standing up on one end (but still on the bottom of the bowl), it's not as fresh, but still good. If the egg floats to the top, it's bad, throw it out.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I cook things in a pan?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionHow do I make a mug cake?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
If you’re faced with the challenge of cooking for one, start by adjusting your favorite recipes to make fewer servings. For example, if a recipe serves 4 people, cut the recipe down in half and freeze the leftovers for meals later in the week. You can also use leftovers to create a new dish the next day. For example, if you made a roast chicken, shred the chicken to use in a salad or pasta dish the following night.
- Keep a well stocked pantry with the basics so you'll be more likely to cook. You'll need a variety of spices and seasonings.
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