Healthy, Waste-Free Eating For One

Meal for one

Have you ever found yourself living off peanut butter pretzels and drive-thru breakfast burritos simply because you don’t have the time or desire to actually cook something for yourself? I definitely have.

It’s no lie, cooking for one can be tricky, wasteful, and expensive. And more so when trying to eat well. It’s a common problem, one that about 27% of US households experience. And when much of the food we find in grocery stores comes in large packages with a family in mind, it can be tricky to achieve a happy medium between trying to eat bulk foods before the expiration date and heating up prepackaged meals for one.

Fear not, singletons, for we are not forever destined to live off non-perishable food items and Lean Cuisines. With a little planning and preparation, anyone can eat healthy, unique meals from home every day of the week (without tossing half of it in the garbage). Here are some ideas on how to spice up your solo meal life.

Assess Your Food Habits

Frozen dinner

Single eaters, you’re better than this. image: Mike Mozart/Flickr

The first question is: How much food are you wasting? If you don’t know, try keeping a food waste journal for a few weeks. Maybe you don’t get through all your bread before it molds, or your bananas go brown and soft before you eat them. Once you learn what and how much food you waste, it’s easier to adjust accordingly. There are even online resources like this food waste journal to help get you started.

One Meal, Many Days

While I’d like to be able to cook every day, it simply isn’t realistic for my lifestyle. Thus, I prefer the meal prep method – cooking one or two large family-style dishes on Sunday night and then eating them throughout the week. It’s a great way to ensure you use all those perishables in your fridge, and to control how and what you eat. Making a big batch of pasta or soup, along with an easy crockpot recipe is an simple yet effective way to feed myself for the entire week. Take a look at these easy Sunday meal prep ideas for some more deliciously simple inspiration.

The More the Merrier

Cooking soup

Meals that can last you several days, like pasta or soup, are key to healthy eating for one. image: Wonderlane/Flickr

What’s better than good food and good friends? In my humble opinion, not much. Dinner parties with friends are one of my favorite things to do; it’s a great way to try new recipes, reduce waste, and be social, as opposed to eating alone at home all the time. Plus, if you get your friends to pitch in, it relieves some of the financial burden of going all out on some crazy new recipe no one’s tried before. So set a location, break out your tupperware for leftovers, and let the good times roll!

The Takeaway

Eating alone doesn’t have to be a sad, lonely affair. In fact, it can be healthy and exciting, with little waste. Consider honing in on your food waste weak spots, making meals that can last all week, and inviting friends over to get your solo cooking game on point. And whatever you prepare, use organic ingredients. They’re so much healthier for you and the planet, and hey, you’re cooking for the most important person around, right? Treat yo self.

Melissa is an Impact Mill contributer based in Seattle with a passion for meshing the worlds of business and sustainability. Her interests include food, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, big data, and NPR. Melissa holds a B.A. in Business with a Concentration in Sustainability from ASU.