The Single Person's Guide to Cooking for One

Updated 06/25/19
Cooking for One
@ada_oguntodu

Sure, Carrie Bradshaw stored sweaters in her oven and ordered Chinese takeout, but that shouldn't dictate the ideal single's diet, right? We may follow her footsteps on many things, like her sartorial tendencies and her fearlessness in pursuing her dreams, but her diet—which consists of consuming cosmos and issues of Vogue—is perhaps not on par with the latest wellness trends. And we all want to be healthy, don't we? So how do we stay healthy and cook delicious meals for one?

With delivery apps making ordering a healthy meal easier than ever, it's easy to give in to the no-cooking temptation. After all, what's one more sushi order or Sakara Life meal? Who's to judge if we decide to eat a Sweetgreen salad every night for a week? This all sounds well and good, except for one small detail: If our livers don't suffer the consequences of takeout, our wallets do. After all, these healthy meals are so much easier to make at home than we might initially anticipate, especially when all we can think about is what we're going to do with all those leftovers.

With a few simple tips and go-to recipes, you'll be on your way to eating well and feeling good. We promise it'll be better than frozen pizza.

  • Don't over shop. Before heading to the store, make a list of staples for the pantry like canned beans, pasta, and grains. Then, stock up the fridge with items like cheese, eggs, and seasonal vegetables. Look at your schedule. If you're going to be out two nights during the week, don't buy too many dinner ingredients.
  • Cook your favorites. Indulge yourself by making the dishes you love. Take advantage of being alone, and enjoy all the mushrooms, anchovies, or blue cheese that you never used to eat because your ex hated them.
  • Embrace being healthy. We typically tend to eat what is on hand, so fill your fridge and pantry with healthy foods and ingredients. Make hearty salads, roast vegetables, and be sure to add a handful of greens to everything you make.
  • Love your freezer. Buy and cook in bulk and freeze the rest to enjoy later. The key to this technique is to not forget about the dishes or ingredients that are in your freezer.
  • Read the recipe. Check the serving size if you're using a recipe. Some recipes feed eight to 10 people, while others feed just four. If you want to make a dish that serves eight to 10, cut it in half. You'll still have leftovers, but not a huge amount.
  • Stop feeling sorry. You're eating alone now, but you won't always be, so cut yourself some slack. If you can't bear another bowl of pasta in front of the television by yourself, treat yourself to a meal out. Go to a restaurant that has a bustling bar, and grab a seat.

Now it's time to get cooking. Keep scrolling for 20 easy recipes you can make for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

BREAKFAST

Latte Overnight Oats with Greek Yogurt

Latte Overnight Oats with Greek Yogurt
Food Faith Fitness 

For a boost of caffeine and protein in the morning, this recipe for latte overnight oats from Food Faith Fitness is the perfect way to start your day. It requires just a few simple ingredients like rolled old fashioned oats, coffee, and non-fat vanilla yogurt. Whip together everything in a single bowl before bed and let the mixture sit in the fridge over night. You'll wake up to a delicious single serving of breakfast.

Avocado Toast with Tomato and Hard Boiled Egg

Avocado Toast with Tomato and Hard Boiled Egg
Foodie Crush

Homemade avocado toast makes for an easy, affordable, and tasty breakfast for one. This recipe from Foodie Crush calls for toasted whole wheat bread topped with a bit of butter, a sliced avocado, tomato, and shaved hard-boiled eggs. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and dig in.

Baked Coconut Oatmeal

Baked Coconut Oatmeal
Hello Veggie

It doesn't get easier than this baked coconut oatmeal recipe from Hello Veggie that you can make right in the microwave. All you have to do is stir together a few ingredients in a mug and pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds. The best part is you probably have most of the ingredients you need sitting in your pantry. Think old fashioned rolled oats, coconut milk, honey, and cinnamon.

Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl with Eggs and Spinach

Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl with Eggs and Spinach
The Butter Half

For a healthy and satisfying breakfast that you can make for yourself on the weekends or even before work, try your hand at this recipe for a brown rice breakfast bowl with eggs and spinach from The Butter Half. With a little help from microwaveable brown rice or quinoa, this savory bowl will be ready to eat in 10 minutes flat.

Citrus Yogurt Bowl

Citrus Yogurt Bowl
Healthy Grocery Girl 

Take a quick cup of yogurt to the next level with this recipe for a citrus yogurt bowl from Healthy Grocery Girl. Simply slice up a navel orange and top your yogurt with pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, and a bit of cinnamon. You'll stay full well into the afternoon.

LUNCH

Margherita Grilled Cheese

Margherita Grilled Cheese
Chelsea's Messy Apron

Dress up a simple grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes and pesto sauce to create this margherita grilled cheese from Chelsea's Messy Apron. Any sandwich recipe is easy to make for one and this one tastes like an indulgence even though the ingredient list is short and sweet.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe
Foodie Crush

A chicken caesar salad is a classic lunch recipe and it's one that you can easily make from scratch for one. This recipe comes from Foodie Crush and calls for shredded chicken breast (you can roast a chicken on your own or simply find some cooked chicken at the market), coddled eggs, anchovy fillets, lemon, lettuce, cucumber, croutons, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. The homemade dressing is really what sets this salad apart from the rest.

Nourishing Veggie Bowls

Nourishing Veggie Bowls
Hello Glow

When you don't know what to make for lunch, this nourishing veggie bowl from Hello Glow is the answer. Made with nutritious veggies, greens, beans, avocado, and a simple vinaigrette dressing, it's an easy dish to make for one or in a big batch to save for later.

Creamy Moroccan Tomato Soup

Creamy Moroccan Tomato Soup
Half Baked Harvest

You can't go wrong with a batch of tomato soup for lunch. If you're up for ditching the can and tackling a homemade creation, look no further than this recipe for Moroccan tomato soup from Half Baked Harvest. It's cozy, healthy, vegan, and comes together in less than an hour. Think roasted tomatoes, harissa sauce, coconut milk, yellow onion, cumin, and crispy chickpeas for serving. Make it on Sunday night and serve yourself a portion for lunch throughout the week.

Lemon Broccolini Pesto and Beans

Lemon Broccolini Pesto and Beans
Healthy Grocery Girl

Brimming with plant-based protein and healthy nutrients, this lemon broccolini pesto and beans bowl from Healthy Grocery Girl will quickly become a go-to in your lunch recipe rotation. Stock up on white beans, lemon juice, broccolini, olive oil, basil, pumpkin seeds, and garlic to prepare the dish. It's perfect for prepping at the beginning of the week and bringing to work for the next few days. You could also serve up some leftovers for a quick side with dinner.

DINNER

Chipotle Lime Shrimp Bowls

Chipotle Lime Shrimp Bowls
Foodie Crush

Any recipe for a bowl of sorts makes for quick and easy singles fare. This recipe for a chipotle lime shrimp bowl is from Foodie Crush and it's bursting with bright colors and flavors. Easily toss together brown rice, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, lime, and shrimp for a simple dinner that you can enjoy throughout the week. You can also substitute in any number of ingredients that you see fit or happen to have on hand like corn, bell peppers, lettuce, and cilantro.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Hello Glow

If you're cooking for one, prepare to stock up on sweet potatoes. They're a cheap staple that's full of nutrients and can serve as the base of a quick weeknight dinner. Take, for instance, this recipe for stuffed sweet potatoes from Hello Glow. It's a healthy spin on a classic loaded baked potato only instead of cheese and butter, you'll stuff baked sweet potatoes with quinoa, avocado, kalamata olives, red onion, feta cheese, and a bit of olive oil.

Sheet Pan Blackened Salmon Bowl

Sheet Pan Blackened Salmon Bowl
Half Baked Harvest 

An entire dinner that comes together on one sheet pan in the oven, this recipe for blackened salmon bowls with potatoes and avocado goddess sauce from Half Baked Harvest is easy and delicious. Roast up some baby potatoes and salmon fillets seasoned with honey, paprika, garlic, and cumin in the oven while brown rice cooks on the stove. The recipe also calls for a homemade avocado goddess sauce that you can make in any blender.

One Pan Lemon Quinoa Chicken

One Pan Lemon Quinoa Chicken
Healthy Grocery Girl

All you need to make this easy dinner created by Healthy Grocery Girl is a large pan, quinoa, chicken breasts, lemon, and some seasonings. Lemon, chicken, and quinoa all cook up in the same pan for minimal effort and a quick clean up. Make a large batch to enjoy throughout the week or cut down the required ingredients to make a single serving.

Chicken Reuben Sheet Pan Nachos

Chicken Reuben Sheet Pan Nachos
Melanie Makes

When you need a bit of comfort food, try your hand at these chicken Reuben sheet pan nachos from Melanie Makes. It calls for tasty ingredients like tortilla chips, cooked chicken, sauerkraut, corned beef, red onion, cherry tomatoes, Swiss cheese, and a homemade thousand island dressing. The beauty of these nachos is that you can make as big or small of a batch as you want. Plus, since you're just cooking for yourself, you can add or admit any ingredients to suit your tastebuds.

DESSERT

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Dark Chocolate Truffles
Minimalist Baker

When it comes to making dessert for yourself, there's no reason you can't make a batch of sweets to slowly enjoy by yourself or save a few and gift the rest. If you're looking a tasty indulgence that's easy to make, these 2-ingredient dark chocolate truffles from Minimalist Baker are for you. Just melt a bit of dark chocolate to mix with warm coconut milk. Set this in the refrigerator for a few hours and scoop out round balls to be topped with cocoa powder or left as is. Pro tip: the truffles will stay fresh in the freezer for up to a month.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
Half Baked Harvest

A true dessert for one, this you can make this single serving molten lava cake from Half Baked Harvest whenever your sweet tooth is craving something rich. You'll need butter, dark chocolate, an egg, vanilla, coconut sugar, salt, and peanut butter—mostly ingredients you likely already have on hand. Bake the mixed ingredients in the oven for about 10 minutes in a ramekin for a perfecting portioned cake.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Spoon Fork Bacon

It doesn't get more classic than chocolate chip cookies and just because you're cooking for one doesn't mean you can't whip up a batch every now and then. This recipe comes from Spoon Fork Bacon and requires simple baking ingredients like flour, baking soda, butter, brown sugar, eggs, and chocolate chips. Keep a few for yourself and share the rest with friends or coworkers.

Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse
Hello Veggie

If you haven't yet tried making a dessert with avocado, this recipe for vegan chocolate mousse from Hello Veggie will convince you to see what the fuss is all about. With ingredients like avocado, unsweetened cocoa powder, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and raspberries this may be the healthiest dessert of all time. One batch makes about two to four servings that you can treat yourself to after dinner throughout the week.

One Bowl Chocolate Fudge Brownies

One Bowl Chocolate Fudge Brownies
Melanie Makes

This genius recipe for chocolate fudge brownies from Melanie Makes requires just one bowl and calls for only 10 ingredients. It's easy to bake and clean up, making it ideal for when you're craving homemade dessert but don't want too much of a hassle when cooking for one. First, you'll make fudge mixture on the stove with butter, cocoa, coffee, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt. Then, you'll pour the batter into a baking pan, top with chocolate chips, and pop it in the oven. Freeze part of the batch to enjoy slowly or share them with friends after you'd had your fill.

Up next: 15 pasta recipes so simple, you'll think you ordered in.

This post was originally published on October 17, 2017, and has since been updated.

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