If you live alone, it can be tempting to pop a Lean Cuisine® meal into the microwave, or swing by your favorite takeout place for Szechuan chicken for the fourth night in a row. However, you’ll save a lot more money when you cook at home. Below are some quick meal-prep tips to consider when cooking for one in your apartment:
You’ve heard that it’s cheaper to buy your groceries in bulk, but when cooking for one, that food may go bad before you can even consume it. Instead of purchasing pre-bagged apples, only select a few from the store shelf to take home with you. As for bananas, break off only the amount you know you can eat.
Bagged salads are convenient for those who are feeding themselves or a small group. However, they tend to have a short shelf life and should be eaten soon after purchase. Breads are good to have at home, and they can last longer when frozen. Of course, don’t discount the benefits of canned foods and veggies as well as frozen fruits – they too can be used as a meal (like soups) or as ingredients in a new recipe.
Prepare Meals for the Week
If you cook a lot of the same dish, you can easily portion out meals throughout the week. The wintertime is great for chili, beef stew and lasagna, because they’re comfort foods and recipes that can be made in large batches. Luckily, a lot of these large-quantity recipes can be made in a crock pot, which saves the cook from also washing a lot of dishes. Once you have separated the recipe into individual containers, place them into a freezer so they’ll stay fresh longer – just pop one out to thaw before you’re ready to eat!
Opt for One-Pot Meals
Cooking with many pots and pans can be daunting and time-consuming. Look for recipes that only require one pot or pan to prepare the meal. There’s a variety of one-pot dishes, such as omelets, casseroles, pastas, and chicken with rice or orzo.
Stick with Multipurpose Ingredients
Just because you decided on chicken tacos for dinner, doesn’t mean you have to eat chicken tacos five days in a row. Pick a main protein for the week, like chicken, and search Pinterest for a couple of recipes that require it.
In the taco example above, you can stretch out those ingredients and create a new dish. You can prepare chicken tacos the first night and chicken tortilla soup another night. This strategy will ensure you’re not wasting food by letting it go bad, and that you’re not eating the same dish night after night.