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4 tips to cook better meals for one

Woman looks at bread in the grocery store.
Blog

/ by Julia Lloyd, MPH

Written by Julia Lloyd, a dietetic intern at UK Markey Cancer Center.

Cooking an elaborate meal often seems like a time-consuming chore when living alone, so a drive-thru or frozen dinner might appear to be the easiest option. However, there are many healthy meal options that are simple, affordable and tasty.

Here are four tips for making more efficient, better-tasting meals for one.

Game plan for your grocery trip

It’s common for people living alone to throw away fresh foods or leftovers they were unable to eat before spoiling. To avoid wasting food (and money!), be sure to look through your pantry and refrigerator before writing a grocery list to incorporate items you already have into a recipe or meal.

It’s also helpful to check your grocery’s weekly ads to see what’s on sale. Many grocery chains offer free digital apps so customers can view what’s on sale each week on their smartphone. These apps typically provide coupons, so take advantage of these resources from your grocery of choice!

Get familiar with your grocery’s deli

Instead of buying pre-packaged meats, seafood and cheeses, go to the deli counter and purchase the exact amount of food you need. You’ll be able to buy a single chicken breast or a few slices of cheese if that’s all you need at the time. If you’re not confident in your cooking skills, you can even ask someone in the deli to pre-slice your meat or remove the skin from seafood.

The deli is also a great resource for recipe ideas and finding the best deal of the week. Plus, it never hurts to ask for a sample so you can taste test a product before buying it.

Prep your meals ahead of time

Dedicate one or two nights a week to prep foods to reduce cooking time throughout the week. Having all of your produce sliced and diced beforehand will make cooking seem like less of a hassle, and you will be more likely to eat your fruits and veggies!

If your grocery does not have a deli, you can pre-portion your veggies or meats into freezer bags and cook what you need for one meal instead of cooking them all at once. This will reduce leftovers, which means you won’t feel obligated to re-heat the same food over and over again for the next few days. Freezing foods also prevents them from spoiling too quickly.

Be creative with leftovers

If you find yourself getting tired of leftovers, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. For example, you can incorporate your leftover veggies into soups, salads, omelettes, tacos, sandwiches, casseroles, etc. Vegetables are versatile and can be added to almost any dish to add some texture and flavor. If you have leftover ground meat, consider making a quesadilla or chili, or try a stuffed bell pepper recipe.

For additional information regarding diet and nutrition for cancer patients at Markey Cancer Center, please call 859-323-2798 and ask to speak with a registered dietitian.

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