salmon salad

The fastest growing type of household in the United States is that of the single person. Until modern times, living alone was a luxury that few could afford, but today the number of solo households is surging. Men and women alike are discovering the benefits of living alone, and despite the higher price tag that comes with a single existence, many people are choosing this lifestyle rather than cohabitating with roommates, family or lovers.

When you live alone, no one will ever mess with your leftovers in the fridge, drink the last of the milk or eat that slice of chocolate cake you were saving. However, cooking for one person can present a challenge, as it seems like grocery manufacturers are stuck with the aging notion that only the four-person nuclear family needs to be fed. Consumer demand will catch up with the dinosaurs eventually, but in the meantime, use the following tips on cooking for one to create the ideal single diet.

Learn to love the leftover. One of the biggest issues with cooking for one is that most recipes are designed to create meals for four people or more. You may love that homemade dish of Eggplant Parmesan on Meatless Monday, but come Thursday after you’ve eaten it for seven meals straight, you may swear off Italian food altogether. To combat leftover fatigue, choose recipes that will keep well, and which you can freeze and enjoy weeks later. Pastas are great cold the next day(s), and soups, stews and casseroles can be divided up into single portions and frozen until you’re ready to eat them again.

Shop bulk bins. Bulk bins are fantastic because they let you buy exactly the amount that you need. Shop bulk bins for items like flours, nuts, snacks, grains, spices and much more.

Don’t overbuy. When you are cooking for one person, you can afford to choose quality over quantity, so do so. A ten-pound bag of grapes for $3 at Costco is a great deal, but not if you can only eat half before they go bad. Chicken breast may cost more by the pound at Whole Foods, but you can buy a single piece of meat – and at discount stores you are stuck with a package of four or more. It’s not a deal unless you will use it, so shop for smaller portion sizes if the big ones tend to go to waste.

Freeze herbs. It’s almost impossible for one person to eat an entire bunch of parsley before it goes bad. Freeze leftover herbs in ice cubes and add them later to soups, stews and stocks.

Find what you love and stick to it. While culinary adventures are one of life’s great pleasures, you also need go-to meals that will fill your heart and spirit on a moment’s notice. Egg dishes are famously inexpensive, quick, easy to make and a favorite breakfast, lunch or dinner for single people everywhere. Perhaps you love tuna salad, pickled herrings or frozen vegetable pizzas. Whatever it is, make sure that you always have on hand the ingredients for your go-to meal, because when the night comes that you are too tired to cook, the dog is not going to make dinner. 

Image: jules:stonesoup