I’ve been cooking for one regularly for about four years now. Mainly because I prefer to eat one thing and others prefer another, but also because for the majority of that time I’ve been single. I’ve spoken to some clients and others in my life and cooking for one seems to be a big issue when it comes to planning and making meals.
I understand this, seeing as most recipes are designed for at least more than one person, and sometimes up to 8, which can seem daunting if you only want a meal for one. Well, I’m here to encourage you to make that meal for 4 or 8 or at least 2. You’re going to love me for it.
If you haven’t already jumped on the meal prepping bandwagon and you don’t batch cook, then this post is made to sway you to join in the fun. Why?
You’ll Save Time
You won’t have to cook individual meals or take time daily to prepare a meal. Instead, you’ll have multiples ready at your whim, just remember to thaw them before you need them. Initially, you may take more time as you find a flow in your kitchen, but cooking only once or twice a week has major benefits in the way of saving you time throughout the rest of the week.
You’ll Save Money
Batch cooking saves you from buying unique ingredients that encourage leftover ingredients that don’t get used. This, in turn, saves you money and who doesn’t like that?
You’ll Have Food For Weeks
This one’s important, especially if you cook for one, since you’ll be able to have back up food at all times…so long as you have a freezer and know how to economize your space. This also takes practice, but is very much worth the additional real estate.
You Won’t Get Sick Of What You’re Eating
You’ll still make new meals, you’ll just freeze half of what you make. I’ll get into this later, but basically your food will be on a wide rotation instead of repeating until it’s gone.
Doesn’t this sound exciting? It also sounds like a bit of a dream, and it is, but not the fake kind. The real kind! Here’s how it works:
Each week, select 2-4 batchable (it’s a word) recipes to try. Each recipe will feed 4-8 servings worth and will consist of a majority base (i.e. soup, pasta sauce, frittata) or be a one-pot meal (ex. stew, lasagna, shepherds pie). Try to alternate between things that stand alone and things that go with a simple side (ex. salad, rice pilaf, mixed veg).
Either batch cook 2 recipes at a time (ex. 2 on Sunday, 2 on Wednesday), or all at once (ex. all 4 on Sunday). Save 2-4 servings of each to eat as lunch/dinner throughout the week until your next batch cook and freeze the rest either in individual portions (ex. lasagna) or as a 2nd round of the same batch (ex. soup).
Do this for 4 weeks and you’ll have enough backups to get you through month 2 without cooking, with the exception of the simple sides, which you can change up to add variety and keep you from tiring of ‘the same old meals’.
At the start of week 5 (or month 2), batch cook 1-2 meals per week instead of 2-4, remembering to freeze half your batches, and you’ll always be alternating between old and new recipes.
It’s that simple! You can cook for 8 and still eat for 1. You can still have variety in your diet. And you will always have something ready even when you’re not in the mood to cook and there’s no one around to cook for you but yourself.
A few of things to keep in mind:
Try to use similar sized containers to freeze your leftovers. They’ll fit better in the freezer (and fridge) that way.
If you’re lacking freezer space to begin with, your first recipes should include the ingredients you already have frozen so you can get rid of them while making space. The same goes for your fresh produce and condiments. I don’t think I need to tell you how much space condiments take up.
Plan your side dishes in advance and purchase them on the go, one week at a time, based on what you plan on eating that week from your stock and new recipes. Sides are things that don’t freeze well, like grains, greens, and cooked vegetables.
Label and date all your frozen leftovers and have a rotation system going in your freezer. Think first one in, last one out, or newest items toward the back or bottom (depending on whether you’re using a standing freezer or a deep freeze), oldest items at the front. That doesn’t mean you have to eat them in that order, it just ensures you won’t forget about the older meals before they go bad.
TIP: Keep a list on your fridge so you know what you have in your freezer and when it expires. That way you won’t have to sift through the containers and potentially become too frustrated to eat.
If you’re freezing anything with liquid in glass, LEAVE ROOM FOR EXPANSION! I’ve shed many a tear when I open my freezer door to see that a lovely mason jar has cracked because I didn’t leave enough room for the contents to expand. Typically, leave 1-2 inches near the top of a jar (usually at the bottom of the neck, depending on the jar), or 1 inch on flat glass containers.
Get in your kitchen and start cooking. I believe in you and can’t wait to see what you prepare for yourself. The excitement starts now!