I’m a whiz at cooking up a meal for a large group of people. A large pot of soup and some fresh bread? I’m your girl. Turkey and mashed potatoes for 30 people? I got you.
Want to have a meal for two? Hmm. Not so much. I try to cook less, but we'll probably still end up with leftovers for days. And to be perfectly honest, it's hard to get motivated to cook a full meal for just one or two people. It seems a lot easier to just go to a drive-through. But that gets expensive, and we all know it isn't good for our health.
Most of us are looking for ways to save time and money on groceries, especially when we cook just for ourselves and maybe one other person. It isn’t easy to cook for such a small number.
My adult daughter lives with me, and cooking for just the two of us has its challenges.
But over the years, I’ve found a few cost-effective cooking tricks that work well for me:
1. Go to the Grocery Store Often
I know, I know! Everything you read says that you will spend less money if you go to the store less often. Maybe that’s true for some people, but I haven’t found that to be the case for us. When I try to shop for the two of us and buy enough for a whole week, some of the produce invariably goes bad and I end up throwing out wilted vegetables or moldy fruits every week.
If that isn’t a waste of money, I don’t know what is! By going to the store every three days or so, I find that I buy a lot less because we cut waste down to almost zero. The food is fresher, it saves us money, and it’s better for the environment. Interestingly enough, when I buy food for three days, it normally lasts four.
2. Use Your Freezer
If you do cook a big pot of soup, don’t put the leftovers in the fridge! Go ahead and dish out individual portions into plastic containers and stick them in the freezer. These little freezer meals are great when you’ve had a long day, and they will help you to refrain from going out to eat because you know you have something delicious waiting at home for you.
You can do this whenever you prepare a large amount of something, and it's a huge time-saver. Made a lasagna, but don’t want to eat lasagna for the next four days? Freeze individual pieces, and you'll be all set with a healthy, inexpensive, delicious meal whenever you need one.
Another problem for those of us cooking for just one or two people is finding good recipes. However, I just Googled “cooking for one person” and found some great results. Blogs filled with recipes designed to make meals for just one or two people and cookbooks galore. There are so many resources out there, and they are just a Google search away.
One site alone had 130 single-serving recipes. With so many recipes to choose from, you are in no danger of getting bored. Of course, you can go ahead and make a full pan of lasagna or cook that five-pound chuck roast you got for a great price. Just make sure to freeze the leftovers!
It might seem easier to reach for a takeout menu, but with a little planning, your small household can save money and eat healthier!