When you are cooking for one, keeping costs down can be hard and it’s often the reason we think ‘stuff it’ and hit up Uber Eats instead. But while this might be a good ‘sometimes’ solution, if you’re on your own most nights and take away has become your go-to, then your waistline (and wallet) might start to suffer. So with this in mind, I’ve come up with a few simple tips to help you keep it healthy and cheap if you’re riding solo.
1. Plan ahead
Eating healthy when you’re trying to stick to a budget all comes down to one thing – planning! Set aside some time on a Sunday to map out your week, choosing which meals you will eat on each night and highlighting when you won’t be home for dinner (this way you can avoid food spoiling because you forgot about those Friday night drinks).
2. Be resourceful
There are so many clever ways to use the same ingredients to create completely different dishes so you still get the variety you need on a budget. I know that some people are quite happy to eat the same thing for brekky, lunch and dinner, but remember this – you must have some variety to ensure you are getting a range of different nutrients in your diet. So when it comes to planning your meals, choose ingredients that you can use in different ways. If you are doing chicken schnitzels on a Monday night, this would mean using this same chicken in a taco bowl on the Tuesday and in a stir fry on Wednesday.
3. Stay in season
Remember – veggies are always cheapest when they’re in season. They’ll also be more fresh and delicious when you go for what’s growing, so do some research and choose your fruit and veg depending on the time of year.
4. Keep it simple
Let’s face it, cooking for one can often feel like more trouble than it’s worth, so my tip is to just keep it simple. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make extravagant meals that use billions of ingredients – this will not only waste your time, but your money, too. Stick to your favourite simple recipes and let the ingredients and flavours do the talking.
5. Learn to love leftovers
A big downside that comes with cooking for one is the potential for waste – so try to use up any of your leftover ingredients in the fridge before you decide to cook a new meal. I always love throwing all my leftover veggies in a stir fry at the end of the week. And of course, take any leftovers from dinner for lunch instead of buying that expensive sandwich from the café near work.
6. Build up long life essentials
Start to stock your pantry with long life, versatile staples that you can sub into any meal. Think quinoa, brown rice, rolled oats and tuna – and any other healthy, long lasting ingredients that can be used to bulk up any leftovers you might have in the fridge.
7. Make friends with the freezer
Cook up some freezer friendly meals that you can chuck in the microwave in times of need (curries, bolognaise, soups, vegetable bakes and risottos are all some awesome freezer friendly meals) and portion them into one serve each. These will be your go-to when you get home from work after a long hard day at work and cooking is the last thing on your agenda.