For people who find themselves cooking for one on a regular basis, learning to do a few simple things make the process run more smoothly. First, the solo diner has to learn to divide recipes that are meant to serve more than one person into recipes that will serve one. Secondly, the solo diner must learn to buy ingredients so that they will have enough of what they need for what they are cooking but won’t have so much that it will eventually end up going to waste. It also can be helpful for a solo diner to prepare multiple servings at one time and save the leftover servings for later.
Learning to divide recipes is the first thing that a person must master when cooking for one is a part of his or her routine. Dividing a recipe for four into a single-serving recipe can sometimes be a simple matter of dividing the measurements for each ingredient by four. Trying to divide a recipe that serves four and requires two eggs, on the other hand, can be much more challenging. A possible solution in this situation is to divide the recipe into a two-serving meal. One serving can be eaten that day, and the other can be refrigerated or even frozen to be eaten later.
Even people who enjoy eating fresh, homemade meals don’t necessarily want to cook them every night. One solution is to prepare several servings of a meal and then freeze whatever doesn’t get eaten. For example, instead of dividing a recipe meant to serve four, it can be prepared as it is. The person could then eat one serving for dinner that night, and then freeze the other three servings of the meal individually. Preparing meals in this way gives the person the convenience of frozen dinners but the taste of homemade food.
Some meals call for uncommon ingredients that don't often get used. In these cases, it’s best for the smallest amount possible to be purchased. Buying a large container of a particular spice can be cheaper per ounce or per gram, but it might go unused for so long that it loses its flavor and its freshness and has to be thrown away.
If there are ingredients that are used often, however, buying them in bulk can end up saving money. Some meats and vegetables can last for quite a while when frozen. A single diner should consider freezing meats separately in one- or two-meal portions. This way, instead of thawing out an entire package of chicken breasts, for example, he or she needs to thaw out only as many chicken breasts as are needed for a particular meal.
When cooking for one, a person should consider making one-dish meals. Creating a main course and several side dishes can feel like a hassle when cooking for one person. Meals that can be prepared all in one pot, pan or dish are much more convenient. One-dish meals that contain all of the major food groups, including meats, vegetables and grains, are good choices. Stews, stir fry dishes, casseroles and chili are all good, one-dish meal options.