Cooking for One

Category Cooking Tips
It can be tricky to cook for one person, especially if you don't want to end up with a ton of leftovers. This is a page about cooking for one.


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My husband recently passed away and life has changed so much. One issue I have had was cooking for one. Buying things like celery and carrots was beginning to be a waste since I couldn't use up the fresh vegetables as fast. I finally realized the other day when making a pot pie that why wouldn't it make sense to buy frozen carrots since they would be cooked anyway instead of using fresh. I waited for a sale on frozen vegetables and got a bag of carrots to use when I want to do a casserole or soups. Celery was solved by just getting what I needed at the time at the salad bar. No more throwing a whole bag of celery away because it too would go to waste before I could use it. Time to learn to save smarter.

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April 20, 2006

I am a 63 year old female, and I eat on an $80.00 a month food allowance. I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, so I have to watch what I eat. I have found cooking for one is very hard and to avoid any waste, I purchased containers from the dollar store. When I make a casserole, pot of stew, beans, soup or anything that I have leftovers from, I make meal sized portions from the leftovers and freeze them. When I don't feel well or just don't want to cook that day I use them as you would a frozen TV dinner.


I also use a lot of the vegetables I have leftover to make the soups with. Just freeze the portions you have leftover until you have enough, take it all and make a wonderful pot of soup with it.

I also freeze spaghetti sauce, and when I get the urge for that italian taste, I use it with either vermicelli, or macaroni, and make a casserole topped with cheese and have an entirely new tasting meal.

By freezing leftover corn bread, packaged bread, rolls or biscuits, I can make my own croutons, bread crumbs, corn bread stuffing, and puddings from the biscuits and bread. You can freeze all breads and use them as needed in place of many products you would have bought at a much higher price at the store, and they are both fresher and taste better.

I hope this will help someone who lives as I do, alone and on a very small food allowance. I have many more ways to save money on your food bill and ways to use almost all the food you have leftover. If you would like more ideas, please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to share them with you.


By Mary from Spiro, OK

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February 12, 2020

I live alone, after having raised a family and losing my husband, so I am used to cooking for more than one. Also, a couple years ago I decided to give up processed foods, such as frozen dinners and convenience foods, as I am not a big fan of additives and preservatives. Plus, those foods are expensive for what you get. Most frozen meals are tiny and leave you looking for more.

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Due to COVID-19 and being quarantined, Easter for everyone was different this year.Well, I told myself I would not get upset and would try to make a similar but somewhat traditional dinner for one. I bought a ham steak, a baking sweet potato, fresh asparagus and pineapple chunks.

Quick Easter Dinner For One

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November 3, 2004

When making a single serving of oatmeal, put the oatmeal (not the packet kind - too expensive!) into the bowl, then pour boiling water in, and stir. No boil-overs! By Linda

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

April 19, 2006

I live alone and have been trying to save money by cooking my meals at home. I know buying a whole chicken is cheaper but I'm afraid that the leftovers will go to waste, any ideas? The same goes for a roast.


Mimi Gonzalez from San Antonio, TX


By Colleen (Guest Post)
April 19, 20060 found this helpful

I review store ads to find the best prices during the week, shop on Fridays, cook on Saturday mornings and freeze meals in appropriate size containers which then can be a used for lunch or dinners.

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February 7, 2005

My son is in a new town with a new job, having graduated from college. I asked him what he was going to have for dinner, and the answer didn't make me happy. Frozen pizza, TV dinner, mushy salad in a bag destined for the trash and hot dogs were all he had in the fridge. Not nutritionally balanced.

He was going to go to the grocery store later, but I suspect it's more of the same. Any suggestions for him? He's actually a great cook, but won't unless he has friends to cook with and for. He'll have to change that attitude pronto.


Thanks in advance for your input.


February 6, 20050 found this helpful

Make a lot of one thing and freeze leftovers, when you come home all you do is pop it into the microwave! Saves you time from having to cook a full meal again :-)

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February 7, 20050 found this helpful

I subscribe to an email newsletter called and if you go to their website you can find delicious recipes and they can be changed to suit different sized servings, including for one person. Underneath the recipe is a box where you put in the number of servings you want to change it to.

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February 7, 20050 found this helpful

I agree! Cook for 4, 6 or 8! After you have eaten, and your 'leftovers' have cooled, divide into individual portions, (I use recycled takeaway containers), and freeze for later use - work lunches, when you can't be bothered cooking, unexpected visitors, etc. It takes the same amount of pots, pans and utensils to cook one meal or 8 so it saves time in preparation and cleaning up, etc., as well. I never cook a single meal for myself - I either eat the same thing 2 or 3 days running or ring the changes with my freezer meals.




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By Debbie (Guest Post)
February 7, 20050 found this helpful

It doesn't seem worth cooking just one serving. I suggest freezing any leftovers. Another idea is to share your meals with family, friends, co-workers, etc.. Every time I make a pot of homemade soup, I take a container of it to my sister & brother-in-law. He is a very fussy eater, but he really loves my soup, so I always share ours with them! I also make soups, stews, etc. for my husband to take into work occassionally, to share with his co-workers and they all really enjoy it for their lunch. Perhaps you know of another single person that you can share your food with, and take turns in preparing and sharing.

Debbie from New Jersey

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By sandy (Guest Post)
February 9, 20050 found this helpful

i am also single. it gets pretty boring making 5 or 6 servings when you are the only one eating the meal. it also gets very expensive taking food to other people. you only have one income you cant feed the family and the neighborhood.
i do make soup at times. have a pot on stove now.
find recpipes you like and then halve or quarter them.
hope you find some stuff.

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February 9, 20050 found this helpful

Buy a plastic tube of pork tenderloin (not marinaded) and cut it into about 1 inch cross sections. Stand up each cross section and pound flat with a meat pounder. You will get about 8 to 12 pieces from each tenderloin. Keep out 2 or 3 pieces for one meal, and freeze the extra pounded ones between pieces of waxed paper. Again, keep 2 or 3 together, and unfreeze enough for one meal at a time in the future. They can all be frozen in one ziploc, but don't allow too many pieces to freeze together. For one meal, dip each piece into milk, then press into bread crumbs. Fry on medium high in a small amount of oil. Only takes about 2 minutes a side to get nicely browned. Serve with any veggies and/or salad. All the messy work is done at once, and you'll have 3 or 4 more easy meals in the future....and the beauty is....THEY AREN'T LEFT OVERS!!!!


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By Mrs Olson (Guest Post)
July 9, 20050 found this helpful

Thank you Songbird100! I just checked out the site and it is an excellent resource.

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July 14, 20050 found this helpful

Do thriftyfun folks have any good recipes for a single person to cook for one?


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July 14, 20050 found this helpful

I've been single for a long time so have had to deal with this problem. Part of the problem is that the best deals on meat are often in "value pack" or "family size" packages or a 10 lb. bag of chicken leg quarters, etc. The only way I can take advantage of such deals is to freeze a lot, and it doesn't take long to fill a freezer. So where possible I make a lot of soups and stews in huge quantities. After they sit in the fridge for a couple of days for the flavors to blend well, I put what is left in portion sized ziplock freezer bags and freeze it like that. You can pack them together and they don't take up too much space.

One of my biggest problems is with vegatables, but they can usually be done the same way. Also I shop for deals on bagged salad greens and make a huge variety of salads, especially in the summer. I keep an assortment of pickles, olives, pickled peppers, etc. and a few fresh tomatoes and such, then build a basic salad with that stuff. Then top it off with half a can of red sockeye salmon or flaked tuna, or mushrooms or any kind of meat. Keep an assortment of dressings and choose one that complements the meat. This is a fast way to build a healthy meal, it affords a lot of variety, and doesn't heat up the kitchen.

The main thing is this: even if you are alone, keep reminding yourself that you are worth the trouble. This was the hardest thing I had to learn, but don't ever forget it. Treat yourself to things you like and enjoy the fact that you don't have to get anyone else's approval. Throw a carefully chosen ribeye on the grill, bake a potato and toss a salad, pour a glass of wine and enjoy yourself, because you are worth it!

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By nancibaren (Guest Post)
July 14, 20050 found this helpful

cooking for one sometimes doesn't seem "worth the effort"
one solution is to make large batches of favorite meals and then split them up for freezing
you can even put them in microwavable bags for single meals

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July 14, 20050 found this helpful

For freezing and storing foods, I bought a bunch of those plastic disposable gladware containers (e.g., 20 containers), all the same size. Then it's easy to store food and it's easy to store the washed containers.

For food I usually buy the convenience products such as boxed dinners, rice-a-roni, noodle mixes, soup/stew in a can, precooked chicken patties, frozen stirfry bags, frozen waffles, sandwich from the grocery store deli, individual canned fruit packs. For a family convenience foods are much too expensive. As one person, I find that I have to throw out a lot of food if I do fresh or scratch cooking. For example, the fresh brocolli dies before I get it all consumed. So does the pancake mix. I've opened a can of pineapple put it in the fridge and then forgot it for 3 weeks so had to throw it out. If I do convenience foods, then I have enough variety so I don't get bored. Nutritionally fresh is better, granted, but a frozen stirfry bag is better nutrition than a frozen pizza.

I also have some quickie food things which are decent in nutrition and taste -- like I'll eat breakfast cereal and toast or pancakes for supper sometimes when I don't feel like making anything. Breakfast food is usually a faster prep than regular supper foods. I also always have a few boxes of microwave frozen dinners for that reason. Those are fairly nutritious and they are good for when you just don't want to cook at all.

I always store my bread in the freezer. Then it stays fresh enough until I finish the loaf.


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July 15, 20050 found this helpful

May I first suggest that you ask him if he wants help with his meal planning. He's in his twenties, lived away from you for a few years and is a grown man. He may not need help planning his menu. It would be horrible for you guys to start off on the wrong foot. I sometimes disagree with how my boys eat but sometimes we need to let them make their own choices. Our grown children need their space and our respect too. I know that we go on being Moms long after college but we sometimes need to be a different kind of Mom as they age. :) If he is wants your help planning his menus then you could try or kraft foods has wonderful online recipes. A counter top grill is always a great way to get a quick, healthy meal. That might be a great house warming gift for him. Good luck

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July 16, 20050 found this helpful

I have found the grocery store a valuable resource. I purchase roasted chickens and turkey breasts from the deli, bake a potato in the microwave for 5 minutes on each side, cut some broccoli and microwave 3 minutes and add some good bread.

You can also debone the chicken and use it in tons of other recipies from a good ole hot chicken sandwich to chicken and soup mixed and served over noodles or rice along with a bagged salad.

I got the turkey breasts yesterday and served with broccoli, boxed stuffing and canned gravy. Was a good meal.

Or how about a little stir fried shrimp with some veggies of your choice and add a little Jerk sauce - quick, easy and healthy.

My grocery deli also has prepared soup and some great salads with a meat base which, after adding some bread, would make a great meal.

Hope he survives the junk food world out there!

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July 24, 20050 found this helpful

I am also single and hate having to cook for one and eating leftovers for a week. I also left home when I was in my early 20's. I went through my KoolAid and Mac and Cheese phase and survived. LOL

I would suggest that he might want to check out some websites like and I'm pretty sure has a section for cooking for one or two.

In addition to cooking up chicken and keeping it in the freezer I would also suggest doing the same thing with ground beef. I do that and when I need meat it is already cooked and ready to go. I also measure it in one cup measurements so I know exactly how much is in each container.

Also, usually in the winter, I make a huge container of chili. My neighbors love it. :) I measure it out and put into containers and freeze. After it is frozen I pop it out of the containers and put into a ziploc baggie. You can do the same thing with soup but find that it doesn't keep as well. Mushy vegetables. I then have chili to eat for several months. Chili is great over rice, with spaghetti (for real - use like spaghetti sauce), as a baked potato topper. All kinds of stuff.

Hope this helps.
(From a fairly healthy single person) :)

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I don't enjoy cooking because most of the time I'm eating alone. What are others in my situation eating? It has to be fast and not have a lot of cleaning up. I buy fresh veggies and often times they go bad because I never get around to cooking them.

By Betty from Lubbock, TX

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January 14, 2017

I am looking for a chicken leg quarter recipe for one. Does anyone know a good recipe for me?

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