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Mastering Solo Dining: The Best Tips for Cooking for One in College

Are you new to cooking for one and you’re not sure where to begin? Find out how to make meals without a ton of waste

cooking for one

College life often means navigating newfound independence, and for many students, this includes learning how to cook for themselves.

While cooking for one can seem daunting at first, it’s an invaluable skill that can save you money, boost your health, and unleash your creativity in the kitchen. To help you master the art of solo dining, here are some of the best tips for cooking for one in college.

Mastering Solo Dining: The Best Tips for Cooking for One in College

Plan Your Meals

Before you hit the grocery store, take some time to plan out your meals for the week. Consider what ingredients you already have on hand and what recipes you’d like to try. Planning ahead can help you avoid food waste and ensure you have everything you need to whip up delicious meals throughout the week.

Make Fewer Recipes

My favorite hack for cooking for one is to make 1-2 full size recipes and portion them out into individual servings. I then store them in the fridge for the week and reheat them as needed.

This way, you’ll always have a homemade meal ready to go whenever hunger strikes and you can skip trying to figure out how to make smaller recipes.

Invest in Versatile Ingredients

Stock your pantry with versatile ingredients that can be used in a variety of dishes. Think staples like rice, pasta, beans, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, and spices.

These ingredients can form the basis of countless meals and can be easily customized to suit your taste preferences.

Shop Smart When Cooking For One

When grocery shopping for one, it’s important to shop smart and avoid overbuying. Stick to a shopping list to avoid impulse purchases, buy in bulk when it makes sense, and consider purchasing frozen or shelf-stable items that won’t spoil quickly. Don’t forget to check for sales and discounts to stretch your grocery budget even further.

Make Use of Leftovers

Leftovers are your best friend when cooking for one. Instead of letting leftovers go to waste, repurpose them into new meals. For example, turn last night’s roasted vegetables into a veggie-packed frittata or transform leftover chicken into a hearty soup or salad.

Experiment with One-Pot and One-Pan Meals

One-pot and one-pan meals are perfect for solo diners since they require minimal cleanup and can be customized to suit your taste preferences. Experiment with dishes like stir-fries, pasta bakes, sheet pan dinners, and skillet meals for easy and satisfying dinners with minimal effort.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Eggs

Eggs are a budget-friendly and versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes. Whether you’re making scrambled eggs for breakfast, a veggie-packed omelet for lunch, or a frittata for dinner, eggs are a quick and easy protein option that can be whipped up in minutes.

Get Creative with Sandwiches and Wraps

Sandwiches and wraps are a college staple for a reason—they’re quick, easy, and endlessly customizable. Raid your fridge and pantry for fillings like deli meats, cheese, veggies, and spreads, then get creative with different combinations to keep things interesting.

Treat Yourself Occasionally

While cooking for one can sometimes feel like a chore, don’t forget to treat yourself occasionally. Whether it’s ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant or splurging on a special ingredient for a homemade meal, don’t be afraid to indulge yourself every now and then.

Keep it Simple When Cooking For One

Finally, remember to keep it simple. Cooking for one doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Focus on easy recipes with minimal ingredients and prep work, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make gourmet meals every night. The most important thing is to nourish your body and enjoy the process of cooking and eating delicious food.

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