Cooking For One For Dummies
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Cooking for yourself is a skill anyone can do, whether you are 16 years old or 96 years old. Making your own meals from scratch can be immensely satisfying while also saving you money, allowing more control over your nutritional intake, and providing an outlet to express your creativity.

Being able to shop, prep, cook, and feed yourself is the ultimate in self-sufficiency that will bring you energy and joy for the rest of your life.

Setting up a kitchen for one

Stocking your kitchen space with the right equipment, gear, and gadgets when embarking upon a cooking-for-one journey helps to ensure success.

When you are successful in any endeavor, it provides positive reinforcement to keep the new routine going. Food budgeting is usually an issue for most, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get started.

Many smaller sized appliances, pots and pans, and gadgets are quite affordable, or you can hit up a thrift shop to turn someone else’s perceived junk into just what you need!

Countertop appliance necessities

  • Microwave oven
  • Blender
  • Toaster oven

Countertop appliance ‘nice to haves’

  • Air fryer
  • Multi-function pressure cooker or multi-cooker
  • Mini waffle maker
  • Small grill (indoor electric or outdoor gas)

Recipe prep tools

  • Knives: 8-inch chef’s knife, serrated knife, and small paring knife
  • Cutting board: Preferably two, one for meats, one for produce
  • Dry measuring cups: 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup
  • Liquid measuring cup: 2-cup glass, microwave-safe
  • Measuring spoons: 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon, and 1/8 teaspoon
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Colander: 1- to 2-quart
  • Mesh strainer: 6-inch
  • Wire whisk: 6- to 8-inch
  • Wooden spoons: Several
  • Can and bottle opener
  • Cheese grater
  • Oven mitt and potholders

Pots, pans, and more

  • Skillets/frying pans: Oven-proof 3½-inch skillet, plus one 6- to 8-inch non-stick skillet
  • Sauce pots: Oven-proof 1.5-quart saucepot with lid and 3/4 quart saucepot (sometimes called a butter warmer)
  • Baking sheets: Standard-sized cookie sheet plus a rimmed baking sheet to fit in a countertop oven
  • Muffin pans: 6-count standard muffin pan to fit countertop oven (or silicone muffin baking cups) and mini muffin pans
  • Cake and pie pans: 8-inch and 5-inch round cake pans
  • Ramekins: Oven- and microwave-safe ramekins in 4-, 6-, and 8-ounce sizes.
  • Mugs: Large 15- to 25-ounce microwave-safe mug
  • Glass canning jars: Wide-mouth jars in a variety of sizes such as 12 ounces, 8 ounces, and 4 ounces.

Optimizing your cooking-for-one journey

Food hunting and gathering tips

  • Always make a list before food shopping.
  • Shop early or late to avoid crowds, or schedule online for curbside or home delivery.
  • Use digital coupons and store apps.
  • Shop the bulk department for mini portions.
  • Ask for single-serve portions at the meat, seafood, and deli department.
  • Look for single-serve containers of shelf-stable products like fruit, veggies, grains, dairy products, and more.
  • Choose spice “blends” over numerous bottles of individual spices.
  • Shop and split the big sizes at club stores with friends and family.
  • Repurpose takeout condiment packets like ketchup, mayo, soy sauce, honey, and more.

Successful habits of single-portion chefs

  • Put into practice the tips and tricks to shop smartly for one.
  • Understand how to scale up and down a recipe.
  • Know how to use a freezer to its best advantage.
  • Don’t be afraid of leftovers and know how to repurpose food smartly and store safely.
  • Have a pantry stocked with shelf-stable staples including whole grains, beans, canned goods, dried fruits and nuts, and spices for impromptu meal-making.
  • Embrace creativity and be willing to go “off script” to swap out a recipe ingredient.
  • Take an interest in learning new cooking skills and celebrate self-sufficiency.
  • Find joy in your accomplishments, and share your love of cooking with friends and family.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Jennifer Fisher is a health and food blogger with a large-scale media presence on her website, The Fit Fork. She is also a personal trainer, recipe creator, and cooking coach. Jennifer is an ambassador for several health and wellness brands, including Texas Beef Council, National Watermelon Board, Great Lakes Wellness, and Get Set Up (a learning platform for active agers).

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