Healthy cooking for one

Most of us live alone at some point in our lives. Whether you’ve moved out of home or are new to being on your own, healthy cooking for one can seem like a challenge. It doesn’t have to be.

It’s all in the planning.

“If you plan and think ahead to the next meal, you can recreate your dinner into something else for lunch the next day,” says Klara Lorinczi, Registered Dietitian. One simple idea is to buy a precooked chicken and add vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, for a balanced dinner. Transform chicken leftovers into soup, make a chicken salad sandwich, fill a taco or use it to top a salad.

Canada's Food Guide Eat Well plate created by Health Canada

“Frozen vegetables are quick and easy and probably one of the most nutritious secrets out there,” Klara says. “They’re picked, prepared and frozen quickly, so their nutritional value is retained.”

Many people struggle with balancing food on the dinner plate. When it comes to a healthy meal, half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Meat and a starch, such as potatoes, pasta or bread, take up a quarter each. Every meal should contain a complex carbohydrate (a starchy vegetable or grain product), a vegetable or fruit, and a food containing protein (beans, peas, legumes, fish, poultry, meat, eggs, seeds or nuts/nut butter).  

Adjusting how much to cook

Cutting a recipe down is an option, but adjusting the measurements can be difficult. Look online for recipes for one or cookbooks catering to cooking for one.

“When cooking a full-size recipe, plan to freeze what you don’t need,” says Klara. “Over time you will have a nice assortment of individual-sized meals to choose from. Be sure to label and date what you freeze.”

“For a quick, easy dinner, take a prepared meal and make it better,” says Klara. For example, take a can of soup and add your leftovers to make a more interesting and nutritious soup.

Choose a recipe from a favourite cookbook.

Consider having breakfast for supper. It’s generally quick and easy to prepare. Try a breakfast burrito, omelette with vegetables or french toast with fruit on top.

Challenge yourself to try one new recipe a week. You’ll get to try different foods and build up the recipes you like, which will make it easier to plan meals in the future. 

“You don’t need to be perfect every time. What counts is what you do 80 per cent of the time,” says Klara. “It’s doesn’t need to be fancy to be a meal.”

Make it fun

Invite friends or family over for a potluck. Ask everyone to bring a large portion and then split the leftovers.

Cook with a group

Invite people over for a cooking or baking date. This is a great way to make a big batch of food so people can take home leftovers. 

If your kitchen is too small for group cooking or you want to meet new people, you may be able to find a company that offers group cooking spaces. You choose the food in advance, then prepare it on site and take home meals that are ready to cook.

Eating alone?

Create a nice environment at the dinner table. Light a candle or play your favourite music to enhance the atmosphere. 

Create a nice atmosphere for your meal.

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