Most of you do not know this, but I have secret power. And that secret power is… menu planning. Weird, right? But seriously, I like to cook, I like to keep my monthly food budget reasonable, and I like to plan, so that combination makes me a pretty kick-ass menu planner. I know a lot of people struggle with cooking if they live alone or don’t have a partner, but cooking for one can be just as rewarding as cooking for a family of five… and the same effort can go a lot further. There is no reason that you shouldn’t put effort and care into your meals just because nobody is sharing them with you… you still gotta eat, single or not! So I wanted to give you guys a peek at how I approach menu planning when I am the only one that will be eating.
There are a couple of things you should know about my approach:
- I am a huge fan of one-pot meals. I almost never cook red meat at home, with the exception of ground beef for sauces or tacos.
- I cook in bulk, and I think leftovers are probably the key to world peace. If you’re not into leftovers, my strategy probably won’t work for you. EMBRACE THE LEFTOVERS.
- I don’t like eating the same meal for lunch and dinner three days in a row, so I often cook a second planned meal before I’ve finished all the leftovers of the first one, just for variety.
- I freeze leftovers if I get sick of eating them or if I’m not going through them fast enough.
- Let’s be real: sometimes there’s just more pumpkin soup/spaghetti sauce/chicken chili than I realistically feel like eating. This is when I deploy a win-win friendship tactic: invite someone over for dinner to help with that overabundance of whatever you’re cooking. They win because they’ll be thrilled at the invite and get free delicious dinner. You win because you get through that pot of food faster and make sure that you spend some time interacting with other humans. Also they will probably bring wine 🙂
My goal each week is two-fold: First, to always have a fully stocked pantry and fridge with staples so that I can always whip together something simple if I need to deviate from my menu plan for any reason. And two, to have ingredients and recipes on hand for two or three planned meals that I will cook throughout the week as needed and use the leftovers for lunches and/or dinners on busier evenings when I don’t have time to cook.
Even if I say nothing more, this approach should save you from a lifetime of Kraft Dinner or cereal at 10pm! But never fear, I won’t abandon you now. Stay tuned for the next lesson, Pantry Stocking 101.