The key to cooking a meal for one or two individuals requires planning. Planning helps to minimize trips to the grocery store and reduces impulse purchases. With good planning, you can save time and money. It can also help by reducing food waste. Cooking for one begins with making a list to buy the right ingredients to make meals for a week. Variety helps you get all the essential nutrients and makes eating more fun! Enjoy trying a new fruit, vegetable, or grain product.
Shopping Tips for MyPlate Food Groups
Fruits and Vegetables:
Instead of purchasing larger amounts of prepackaged produce, buy it by the piece or buy a mixed bag. For example, choose 3-5 bananas and a bag of grapes, 2 oranges and apples, add a bunch of carrots, a couple onions, a zucchini, and some greens. Add individual serving sizes of canned and frozen items which have extended shelf lives. Be sure to purchase canned fruits in 100% fruit juice, and canned vegetables in the low or reduced sodium options.
Select meat and fish from the butcher counter to get what you like. For example, choose a pork chop, a chicken breast, and a salmon filet. They wrap each piece individually with a label!
Add one-half dozen eggs for the week. Buy smaller sized servings of rice, pasta, and cereals and enjoy the variety of smaller packages. Buy bread and freeze half for next week.
Choose single-serving cheese sticks and individual yogurts. Add shelf stable milk (don’t forget to refrigerate after opening) instead of larger containers with quick expiration dates.
Helpful Tips for Storing Meals:
- Invest in reusable single serving containers.
- Label, date, and freeze in individual servings (place a label on the side of the package for easy identification).
- Package leftovers into multiple containers so they can be reheated in smaller quantities.
Helpful Tips for Convenience Foods:
- Use the markets deli or kitchen departments and select only what you need. Ask for a quarter pound of roasted poultry or two scoops of bean salad.
- Choose a couple of main entrée’s and side dishes for days you may not feel like cooking.
- Break down bakery items and freeze them for later.
- Buy desserts in single servings, choose cake mixes for one, puddings, or frozen fruit bars.
Condiments & Sauces:
- Choose smaller bottles of condiments or sauces.
- Buy spice mixes instead of containers of single spices, e.g. Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, pumpkin pie spice, etc.
Try out this delicious recipe below. Be sure to label, date, and freeze in individual servings (place a label on the side of the package for easy identification.
Easy Stir Fry Recipe. (128 grams per serving) 150 Calories
Ingredients • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped • 1 pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless, cut into strips • ½ teaspoon sugar • 3 tablespoons less sodium soy sauce • ½ cup carrots, peeled and sliced thin or ½ can (about 8 ounces) of low-sodium carrots, drained • ½ cup celery, sliced thin • ¼ cup onion, cut into strips • ½ cup green bell pepper, cut into strips • ¼ teaspoons ground ginger (optional) • 3 cups cooked brown rice
1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat.
2. Sauté garlic until it is slightly brown.
3. Add the chicken and cook thoroughly until done.
4. Add sugar, soy sauce, carrots, celery, onions, and bell pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender.
5. Serve with cooked brown rice.
(Shakera Williams, M.P.H. is Assistant Nutrition Extension Agent- FCS for Webster/Claiborne parishes. Contact her at (318) 371-1371.)