Tips When You’re Cooking For One Or Two

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Salad with fresh vegetables
  • When you buy a loaf of bread, keep half of it for sandwiches and things and place the other half in the freezer to use when you have things like toast, French toast or Texas toast.
  • You can also keep loaves of French bread in the freezer. When you need it for garlic bread or Texas toast just slice it and put back. French bread is so much easier to slice when it is frozen.
  • If you need fresh peppers or other vegetables and the rest of the pepper usually goes to waste before you need it again, try keeping a bag of stir fry vegetables in your freezer. This way you can pick out what you need for a recipe and not waste the rest.
  • There are also many vegetables, like peppers, where the leftovers can be stored in the freezer to use another time.


Pastry for 1 Turnover

1/4 cup flour
pinch salt
4 tsp. shortening
1 Tbsp. ice water

Cut shortening into flour and salt. Mix in water. Roll out and fill with 1 apple or other fruit filling.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Photo By: Jason Lam


  1. says

    I would love to see more tips like this. I think cooking for one or two is harder than cooking for a family because you are often left with more food left over than you can possibly use up. People say, “Oh, just freeze the extra portions (I’m thinking specifically of casseroles and main dishes) but then you have to have an abundance of freezer containers, and freezer space, and you better be darn sure that the food you made and are freezing is something you’ll like enough to eat six or eight times. I love that you included a recipe for one portion!

    • says

      Tanya I have written other things on the web site on tips for singles but I did a really big section on cooking for singles in our Grocery Shopping E Book. Many people keep asking for me to write more and don’t realize that I did do a bunch on that subject in there.
      I will though try to write more on it. I know it is a little hard because I cook for 1 too.

  2. Kelli says

    I cook for one so I need all the tips I can get. I hate wasting food. I finally thought to start freezing bread a while back because I was tired of throwing away half a loaf every time. I now use the frozen bread to make homemade bread crumbs.

    I tried freezing peppers, but they became too mushy. Thoughts?

    • says

      You need to par boil some veggies before you can freeze them. I know I sound like a broken record but I do love dehydrating things. If I have some thing like a pepper or bag of carrots which might spoil on me I just slice and toss on dehydrator tray, when they are dry I put in a container and they can sit in there forever almost until I need them for soup stew or in the case of hash browns I have a big plastic bucket of them and don’t have to worry about them going bad on me. I just grab a handful when I want hash browns.

  3. Angie says

    I have a hubby and two boys to feed but sometimes we still have some leftovers. Some things, we will eat left over the next night. Then there are some things the guys refuse to eat as leftovers. I get stuck taking the leftovers for lunch for several days because I don’t want the food to waste. Then I get so tired of eating the same thing.

    I’ve also had people tell me to freeze the leftovers in individual portions and I don’t want to keep that many freezer containers on hand for that. Plus, I basically rotate the same meals every two weeks. So, we would still get tired of the leftovers. I’m really starting to try and scale down the sizes of the meals I’m cooking on things I know the guys won’t eat as leftovers. Some casseroles, I’ve found I can pretty much cut the recipe in half. It still turns out great and I don’t have to eat the same thing for lunch for a week! LOL!

    One issue I solved is leftover roast. We all like to eat roast the first meal but never as leftovers. I read a tip on this site to shred the beef and have bbq sandwiches the next night. I do that now and that’s a hit.

    We almost always have veggies leftover. I bought a nice little freezer bowl with a seal-tight lid and now save every little dab of green beans, corn and carrots for my chicken pot pies or chicken biscuit casseroles. That was another great tip I read on this site.

    Now, a question: anything I can do with leftover chicken broth? I was making a chicken tetrazzini the other night and the recipe called for only 1 cup of chicken broth. I think the can of chicken broth contained 2 cups or almost 2 cups. I didn’t know what to do with it and ended up pouring it over my dogs’ dry food. How do I use that or can I save it to use again? Can I freeze it?

    • says

      Yes Angie you can freeze it. I keep a couple of containers in my freezer all the time. It is so handy to have it to just pull all and thaw when I need it. What to use it for. Well I will dump my cup or 2 of broth in a pan, melt, bring to boiling and throw in a little rice or a handful of spaghetti noodles and make chicken and rice or noodle soup. You can eat it just like that or add extra spices or even a few veggies. You can take the soup too one step farther and make dumplings (2 cups baking mix and 2/3 cup milk) and drop into the soup. Cook 10 mins. uncovered and 10 mins. covered.

      Also one tip for everyone. If you find you are having a ton of leftovers cut back on the amount you are making. You usually can cut most recipes in half easily. I know people who keep cooking huge amounts thinking they won’t have to cook for a couple of days but if your family won’t eat left overs you are just wasting food so cut way back.

      If you are worried you won’t have enough to fill everyone up if you do that just add a stack of bread and jam or some fresh fruit to the table and let them fill up on that.

      I also will cook a my rice in chicken broth in place of the usual water. It is so yummy that way.

  4. Cath says

    Hello Jill and Angie,
    I use chicken and any broth the same way. To flavor rice or spaghetti, to add to veggies.
    When I have left over, I tend to freeze it in ice cube containers. That way I can retrieve exactly the amount I need for any given recipe or flavor addition.
    And, in our home, chicken broth is the first thing we have right after that very first “sneeze and shiver”. Could be my imagination but we seem to avoid a lot of colds and flu this way.

    • says

      Cath it may not be your imagination. I have seen many studies which say chicken soup or broth does help with colds. They think it might be the onions in it or something.
      Listen just a couple of weeks ago I started drinking dill pickle just for feet cramps and I think it is working. Of all the crazy things so it the pickle juice works I will believe almost any thing.

  5. rose says

    my mom lives alone, she just turned 83, and when i called her the other day i had asked her if she thought it was harder for her to cook for 1 person or when all of us were home .. she said .. sometimes it is but what she does, she basically eats the same type of meals .. she knows she will eat pasta/sauce/some kind of soup/broth most of the month .. so she makes up her batches of the pasta sauce/broth that is used for soup, stew, and just to have broth to drink when thats all she wants .. she has these little containers in her freezer and then she told me she can make any variation she wants by adding this or that to the generic part of the meal ..
    ex: pasta sauce over rice and shrimp .. next day, take some of left over rice, add to soup with vegi’s .. next day .. take leftover shrimp and cook with vegi’s and serve with salad ..
    this way, its not too boring .. but yet .. it keeps her food bill down ..
    thought i would share with u .. 😀

  6. Ebby Jane says

    I like to “recycle” leftovers to my single mother and friend. When I have leftovers that my family isn’t too excited about seeing again I pack them up in single serving plastic containers and freezer them. When I have a few in the freezer I take them to my Mom, or my friend. It’s new to them, they’re glad to have a quick microwavable meal, and we’re not wasting food. They are also a quick something to grab for lunch on those days when I don’t have time to pack something. So if you have single family, friends or neighbors think about them when you have extras.

    • Mrs. D. says

      My mom does this for my husband and me sometimes. My youngest brother still lives at home and has his college buddies over a lot. But she ends up with leftovers, and she kindly sends them our way. I can testify–it is truly a blessing when she does!

  7. Frenchy says

    I squeeze pre-prepared portions in freezer containers of just the right size (portin control anyone?) so they freeze as solid full blocks without any wasted space. Then I pop them out of the container and store them in plastic bags, and reuse the containers.

  8. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    Peppers get mushy when frozen, but the liquid cooks off when heated. Its better to try freezing somehting than throwing it away. I freeze everything but the dog-milk, bread, etc. I’m going to try freezing beaten eggs next because mine alwasys go bad. I grew up on a farm where we built three houses and two quonset huts. I was used to many mouths to feed. So wHen I was young a newly married I made TUB-O-CHILI and my husband said “who is going to eat all this food?” I put it into umpteen freezer containers and we did, but by bit.

  9. says

    I now live alone after many years of cooking for four, and it is an adjustment. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me.
    Buy frozen vegetables loose in a bag so you can take out just what you need.
    Wrap romaine lettuce in paper towels and put back in plastic bag. It can last weeks this way.
    Turn the cottage cheese container upside down once it has been opened. The liquid flows down to the bottom and effectively seals the container and prevents any more air from getting it so it tastes fresh longer. Same is true for other dairy products like yogurt.

  10. Jeanne Veilleux says

    My toaster oven works great for single serving baking. I appreciate the tart recipe. Some things I cook in the toaster oven are a package of muffin mix for six muffins, biscuit mix cut down for two or three biscuits, fish coated with cracker or seasoned flour, single servings of french fries from a reclosable bag of frozen fries, baked chicken breast, one frozen TV dinner–tastes better than microwaved, single serving pizza, leftovers, and just about anything in a single serving that I wouldn’t turn on the big oven for. Works great for me. I’ve been single for 18 years and have lived as frugally as possible. Cooking for one can still be fun.

  11. Denise says

    I think cooking for one requires finding work-arounds. I have SNAP and only my fridge top freezer. Basically, it’s easier and uses less space to store frozen ingredients, than to store frozen meals.

    Some of the things in my freezer are: Roasted red peppers at $.99 a lb. Roasted in the oven and divided into single survings, they take little space, and I can make sandwhiches or add them to any dish. I have sauteed onions too, cooked all at once and divided for the freezer. I buy bagged frozen veggies, for the convenience of being able to take out only as much as I need.
    Fresh eggplant becomes the basis for eggplant parm, sliced, dredged in egg and breadcrumbs (any combination of flour and oil sets off the smoke alarms in my apartment), and oven baked on cookie sheets. I do 2 eggplant at a time, freeze individual slices, and bag them when fully frozen. Just take out the slices I need, add sauce and cheese, no need to thaw the eggplant!
    Ground turkey and beef get bagged and frozen flat, also bought on sale.
    I occaisionally buy whole chickens, at $.99 a lb, but I’m not crazy about dark meat, and it has to be cooked and broken down in order to freeze it. Here, the best price for breasts lately, split or boneless, has been $1.66 a lb.

    One day, I got a very pleasant surprise, when I found split chicken breasts at $.39 a lb!! Yes, really, and with 2 days left on the sale date. I bought as many as would fit in my freezer, boned and skinned them, made stock with the bones and the little pieces of meat left on them, separated out the tenders, and froze everything in individual portions.

    There’s no room for bread and milk in my freezer, but I found the “cold spots” in my fridge (all fridges have them), and keep the bread and milk in those cold spots so they keep longer, and greens keep longer on the shelves than in the vegetable drawers. The drawers work fine for apples, potatoes, and refrigerated snacks.

    I do buy certain convenience foods, on sale, and combine them with fresh or frozen ingredients. I’ve even gotten a couple of recipes off the packages that are good.

  12. Jill says

    After our five sons were grown and gone, I found myself cooking the same amount as when all seven of us were here….and hubby would eat until the entire serving dish was empty. I cut recipes in half now and have learned to remove some to freeze before I take it to the table.

  13. judy says

    I keep all leftover veggies and unused fresh veggies (except lettuce) in a bag for Veggie Soup. I always feel that we are having a free meal when we make soup using leftovers. Makes me happy!

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