Cooking for one can often feel like a challenge, especially when most recipes you find in a cookbook or on the internet have a minimum portion number of two. There are, however, many advantages to solo dining - you've got the freedom to eat exactly as you please and the leeway to budget without worrying about anyone else. So whether you need a little guidance on how best to portion your dishes or some simple recipes to whip up without a fuss, here's our handy guide on creating the perfect meals for one.
Shopping for one means that you can forego the big weekly shop (at last, the pressure's off!) and leisurely scour the local corner shop or farmer's market for gems to experiment with. You can also take pleasure in the fact that you can eat exactly what you want, when you want it and contemplate treats like those pricey posh puds or a wedge of your favourite cheese. The trick is to shop thoughtfully and plan meals ahead to ensure that you buy ingredients that can be used to make a variety of different dishes without there being any waste.
Most of us like to eat well, even if we don't want to slave over a hot stove for hours. Looking forward to a delicious dinner is one of life's pleasures, and it's a good habit to maintain. The secret is to go for recipes that are simple and speedy, whether it's a quick and easy pasta dish, a warming soup or even a good old-fashioned omelette with a glass of wine. And you don't even have to cook at all. It's perfectly possible to put together an instantly satisfying cold supper that requires little preparation, like a hearty salad - also ideal for using up those extra veggies.
Even dishes that take a while to cook often require minimal preparation time, but best not forget that timer! There are also a variety of slow cooker recipes to try, which are ideal after a long day at work or out and about, and will definitely make for more than one meal.
"Before I went for my walk this morning, I put a skinned chicken leg, one large potato cut into cubes, some carrot, leeks, onions and mushrooms in a big pan, made stock with two chicken stock cubes, added garlic, black pepper and a very small amount of salt and when I got back I put it on to simmer for a couple of hours and added macaroni and tinned peas for the last 15 minutes. It was absolutely delicious and will make my main meal for at least another day - possibly two more days if I eat it with some French bread."
1. If you can't be bothered to cook, don't!
The important thing is to eat well, so make sure the fridge is full of tasty ingredients. That way you can put together a healthy and delicious meal without thinking about it - or even having to cook.
2. Remember to freeze any leftovers
When you cook stews, soups or tagines, make enough to freeze the leftovers into small portions. Ideal for solo suppers, and if guests arrive unexpectedly just defrost as many as you need.
3. Seek out recipes for cakes or puddings that keep for a while
Relish the opportunity to please yourself, and eat what you really like, without having to worry about finishing the entire thing in one sitting.
4. Compile a list of recipes that you can cook on automatic pilot
And stock up on the staples you need for them. Always have a jar of good pesto or pasta sauce in the cupboard and the ingredients for a salad or stir-fry in the fridge. Chutneys, sauces and condiments are also useful for lunchtime sandwiches or light meals.
If you are cooking for one, but find it difficult to portion and plan, these recipes - handily created by celebrity chef Sam Stern - are ideal for transforming leftovers into not one, but two lovely meals. Some food is just too good to share...
Buy two salmon fillets, cook both in this recipe and use the leftovers in the one below. Add horseradish to these little steamed parcels. It cuts beautifully across the rich oils of the salmon.
This recipe couldn't be easier and makes a great light lunch or snack.
Buy a 300g rump steak, cook in this recipe and use the leftovers in the next one. A pub classic, this pie takes under an hour (which is super speedy for a pie with such depth of flavour) and anything left over, with the addition of cabbage and potato, transforms into gutsy bubble and squeak cakes.
They’re easy to double up if you have enough leftover stew.
These recipes are taken from Too Good To Share: Cooking for One by Sam Stern, published by Quadrille and available online and from all good booksellers.