28 May 2015

Cooking for One or Two

When you've had a family you become accustomed to cooking large meals. Most recipes are designed for four or more serves, perfect if you have a family or are feeding a large group.

But children growing up and leaving home, divorce or the death of a spouse are all reasons someone in the habit of cooking for two or more would suddenly need to learn how to adjust their cooking habits they've developed over the years to suit cooking for one or two.

The mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make cooking for one or two a challenge rather than a trial. Use this opportunity to try new and exciting cuisines. Perhaps one of the greatest things about cooking for one is the fact that it isn't quite as expensive as cooking for two and cooking for two is a lot cheaper than cooking for four or more. And this means that you might have a little more money in the grocery budget with which to plan and prepare your meals.

One thing you may want to keep in mind when cooking for one or two, if you prepare foods that are freezer friendly is that it may save more time (and in the end money) if you cook the full 4  - 6 servings that most recipes call for and freeze the leftovers in single serving portions for a later point in time. This leaves you with a freezer full of foods for those nights when the thought of cooking just seems beyond your capabilities. It also leaves you with doing the work once and enjoying the fruits of your efforts many times over. This is a great position to be in if you ask me.

No matter what situation placed you in the position of cooking for one or two, there is no reason that you shouldn't enjoy great food that is exciting and pleasant simply because you are dining alone. There is no harm in enjoying a fabulous meal with a nice drink and great music whether you are cooking for one, two or one hundred.

Remember you are what you eat and if you relegate yourself to boring meals that lack excitement and spice that is what you will become. However if you decide to reach out and try new and exciting dishes with every meal you prepare when cooking for one, it will show in the way you embrace life in other areas as well. While we should not live to eat, we should also not limit ourselves to eating to live. Enjoy the foods you prepare whether the portions are large or small in size.

If you do not want to invest heavily in cookbooks that relate to cooking for one, it is quite possible that your local public library will have a few from which you can find some excellent recipes tips and resources. While you are there be sure to check out their selection of exotic food cookbooks in order to spice things up a bit. You never know what treasures you may discover on the shelves or your local library. You may even find local resources on classes that centre on the idea of cooking for one. If the library proves to be a bust as far as resources goes, the Internet is full of recipes, tips, and hints for those who are cooking for one.

A Pantry Designed for Cooking for One or Two

Whether you are cooking or one or two or four or six or twelve, you need some basic pantry items. The only difference between pantries will be the quantities you have stored.  


SR Flour
Jarred pasta sauce
Tomato paste
Dried pasta
Stock cubes
Peanut butter
Canned beans (such as chickpeas, cannellinis, kidneys)
Dry breadcrumbs
Extra-virgin olive oil
Dried herbs and spices


Fresh herbs
Plain yogurt
Cheeses (such as cheddar, Parmesan, and mozzarella)
Condiments (such as Dijon mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, and soy sauce)
Jams (such as strawberry, raspberry, and apricot)
Salad greens (lettuce, cucumber, capsicum)


Bacon (divide into individual servings)
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I like to leave some whole and cut some into strips and others cubed for easy use.)
Minced beef (divided into 500g portions)
Frozen vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli florets, peas, beans and mixed vegetables)
Pizza dough (MOO or buy the small, fresh pizza bases and freeze them)
Frozen fruits (such as strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and mango)
Ice cream

So what can you make with your pantry stocks?

Frozen fruit + yogurt + milk = Fruit Smoothie

Pizza dough + pasta sauce + diced onion + herbs + grated cheese = Margarita pizza

Mince + pasta sauce + grated cheese + cooked spaghetti = Spag bol

Minced beef or chicken + onion + breadcrumbs + eggs + tomato sauce + herbs = Meatloaf

Chicken breasts + eggs + breadcrumbs + Parmesan + tomato sauce + mozzarella = Chicken Parmesan

Chicken breast + onion + mixed vegetables + cheese + milk + flour + pizza dough = Chicken and Vegetable Pie

Eggs + fresh herbs + cheese + salad =  Omelette with Green Salad


  1. Cath we are just two now. ALthough I frequently help grown daughters with meals especially now with a new baby or if someone is sick.
    I tend to cook in large quantities then freeze portions or use another portion in two nights tome or for work lunches. Then I am never cooking every night. I try and make one thing become another ie do spag bol and make lasagne or make a casserole then use it to fill pies. This means I always have easy meals in the freezer and we never need take away.
    I do hear people say they dont bother to cook now it is just them or just the two of them... I think this is terrible. One or two people deserve healthy decent meals as much as anyone! The gift of a home cooked meal is just right for an elderly person or someone unwell. It is one of the nicest things we can do I think,xxx

    1. What would we do without our freezers?

      We are five for dinner most nights, so I tend to make enough for 6 and freeze at least one, sometimes two, portions for freezer meals, emergencies, in lieu of takeaway, to take to Mum occasionally and so on.

      I'm not so very fond of cooking but I love to be able to put an appetising, tasty, home cooked meal on the table and hear the compliments from Wayne and the kids after they've enjoyed it. It really makes my wife/mother/homemaker heart sing :)

  2. I'm sorry to say this Cath but your photos were of food I classify as boring! And after my son was transferred to Tx., I decided to keep cooking as before and freeze when necessary.

    1. Oh I've never claimed to be a Master Chef type of cook - plain, simple and tasty is what goes down well with my family. We love chicken pie and pasta salad, when I make them they are never the same as the last time. I use what I have and often make substitutes for listed ingredients and in 26 years I've only had a couple of absolute disasters :)

  3. Wowie that I found a little harsh :(

    Well being a chef I could totally judge on presentation of food and in the industry you get a lot of chefs commenting and judging on certain things like home brand products tinned food and all sorts I seem to think it has something to do with class I don't know why I feel this way but even if I mentioned meat loaf to my boss he'd probably cringe his face up and say you can cook something better then that!
    I honestly see food as food and you can creat a lot of things out of the most simplest ingredients and make them look super fine dining. But anyway my brain is open to anything and I'm not at all fussy. All I care about is my children and my partner getting fed and having full happy tummys :D
    I could honestly eat spaghetti out of a tin for dinner and it wouldn't bother me. LOL
    Thanks for your tips Cath I love the picture of your smoothie that just seems like it is to die for!
    I'd have to do a lot of adjusting when it comes time to only cook for me and my partner once the kids are grown up haha I'm way to use to cooking in such great portions.
    Have a happy week!

    1. It all comes down to priorities doesn't it? I love to be able to put a tasty,healthy meal on the table for my family, but it still has to fit within our budget. I suppose I could spend more and have more exciting meals, although I don't necessarily believe that would be the case. As I mentioned above we are five, and we like food with flavour and texture. A plain chicken and veg pie becomes something really special when you add tarragon. Plain old spag bol becomes something extra special when the sauce is slow cooked with fresh tomatoes, grated carrot and sliced mushrooms. The pictures may be boring but I'm not a photographer (as my photos often show :) ) nor am I a chef, so I muddle along as best I can. As long as my family is happy I'm happy.

      Anne, I'm already planning on only cooking one week a month when it's just the two of us - looking forward to three weeks of no cooking so much I almost want to shove the kids out of the door now; not really, I'd miss them so much, but boy it will be fun to not shop, cook and clean-up after preparing a meal for five :)

    2. Plain simple and tasty!
      That works perfectly well for me.
      It's always amazing how a certain dish changes in flavour just by adding one different ingredient.

      I hate cleaning up after feeding the family dinner. I wish I had a dishwasher so that I could just load it up and have That wash the dishes for me haha hopefully one day in good time!
      There's just way too many bowls and plates.
      I'd definitely be the same if my kids decided to leave when they're older! I'd probably cry!
      I like getting a break from them every now and agen at the moment but that's because they are young and challenging I still miss them when they go though. Terribly!


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