Eating healthy can be hard when you are living on your own and cooking for one. You start with the best intentions, but then Friday rolls around and you still have a gallon of that salad you made Monday sitting in the fridge. Groceries add up fast and throwing out food is a real bummer. I totally get it.
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But before you reach for that phone to order Chinese takeout, hear this: Eating healthy when you are cooking for one is challenging but totally doable. In fact, it actually has some perks. Here are 10 practical tips on how to eat healthy when you are living alone and cooking for one.
1. Meal plan and prep ahead.
Meal planning is essential to stay organized and committed to eating well. It also saves you a ton of time and money. Try making a rough meal plan for two weeks. That way you can freeze some of the stuff you make this week and eat it next week. This makes it less likely you’ll waste food and helps you avoid eating the same thing every day. Prep what you can in advance on the weekend to make your week much easier.
2. Make the entire process fun.
When you make cooking and eating healthy fun, it becomes a whole lot easier. Turn on music, sip on a glass of wine, or listen to your favorite podcast while you plan, prep and cook. Look at your time in the kitchen as a way to relax, unwind, and live in the present moment.
3. Become besties with your freezer.
Think ahead. Freeze leftover vegetables and fruit if you know you won’t be able to eat them before they go bad. This will save you a ton of money in the long run! Keep your freezer organized with stackable glass containers so you always know what you have on hand. Here are some great ingredients to keep in your freezer for last minute meals.
4. Fall in love with soup.
Soup is affordable, easy, and can pack a ton of nutrients. It’s also the perfect meal to keep in your freezer—it can be thawed relatively quickly and is very versatile! You can always add in extra broth, veggies, or quinoa to take it up a notch. Tip: Freeze soup in individual portions so you can thaw out only what you need. This creamy Butternut Squash Soup freezes beautifully!
5. Frozen fruit is the best thing ever.
It’s true for several reasons. Depending on where you live, fresh berries can be ridiculously expensive. You get more bang for your buck with frozen berries and don’t have to worry about them going bad within a few days. Frozen berries, grapes, and sweet cherries are great in smoothies and make a terrific snack for when you crave something sweet. And don’t throw out those bananas that are starting to brown! Peel, chop, and freeze. They will come in handy down the road when you are making breakfasts and snacks like this ridiculously delicious Blueberry Banana Bread.
6. Be smart about grocery shopping.
As we already mentioned, meal planning is the best way to save money when grocery shopping. When you have a plan, you are only buying what you need instead of going into the store and throwing anything and everything into your cart. When shopping for one, buy smaller portions. For example, if you are buying salsa, get the smallest jar possible so nothing goes to waste. If you are meal planning for two weeks at a time, do a bigger grocery shop the first week and the second week fill in the gaps with things like fruits and vegetables that need to be purchased fresh.
7. Buy single-serving treats.
I don’t know about you, but when I buy a large bag of chips, I eat the whole bag. That’s why it’s so important to get single-serving treats. Enjoy, savor, and avoid binging on the leftovers.
8. Recruit friends who also value healthy eating.
Do you know someone who is also trying to eat healthier? Maybe a friend or a colleague? Team up and take turns making meals and sharing them. It will cut your cooking in half, make meals exciting, and is a great relationship builder. Win, win, win!
9. Don’t be afraid to cut a recipe in half.
If a recipe makes six servings and that is way too much for you, cut all the ingredients in half. While this doesn’t always work out, when it does it is super awesome. Use leftover ingredients for snacks. If a recipe calls for half a green bell pepper, slice up the other half, throw it in a baggie and pack a side of hummus for a snack tomorrow.
10. Organization is key.
Last but not least, keep everything in your pantry, fridge, and freezer organized. Who needs to drop another $10 on a bag of chia seeds when you have half a bag buried in your pantry? Not this girl. We recommend using glass containers like mason jars and stackable containers to clearly see what you have. Storing things in glass jars not only helps you stay organized but also preserves the freshness of your food.