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3 Healthy Eating Tips if You Are Cooking for ONE Print

Nutrition survival guide for singles

Finding cooking for one a drag? You are not alone. Many of the clients we see in our Calgary dietitian nutrition counselling practice and in the group I facilitate as part of my online nutrition course say things like:

  • “I toss out a lot of food and find I just don’t put in the effort when it is just me”
  • “I often just grab a bowl of cereal or snacks and don’t get the nutrition I need”
  • “Recipes are too big and I despise eating the same boring thing over and over”

cooking for one ideas

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The good news is that there are some ways to make cooking for one just a little bit more inspiring to help you get the good nutrition you need. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Divide and Conquer

One of the best way you can create a bit more fun when it comes to meal prep is to recruit a buddy (or buddies).  

  • Find another single person in the same situation that wants to eat better but struggles to put the plan into action and cook with them one night per week.  
  • Once per month host a Saturday food prep group with a few friends. Vote on the recipes in advance and then have each person come prepared with the ingredients to cook their recipe (and bring containers to pack home their food).  
  • Find a colleague at work and alternate packing each other a lunch or supper one day per week. This type of layered accountability helps to ensure you are putting the effort into creating a healthy meal.
  • Do a recipe share once per month with a handful of friends. Determine a date when everyone will get together for a social gathering to do the food swap. Vote on the recipes in advance and have each person prepare their recipe on their own and portion into Ziploc freezer bags or containers. Get together and trade!

2.Think Big, But Buy Small

Just because it is on sale or in a volume discount package doesn’t mean it is a good deal if you are not using the product in its entirety. Think big but buy small is a good mantra when it comes to managing food waste.

Have a “mid-point” plan for items purchased in a larger quantity you can use that you may struggle to use up:

  • Bag of apples – peel, slice or freeze for applesauce, adding to oatmeal or making an apple crisp
  • Large container of grapes – place on skewers and freeze as “grapesicles”
  • Berries – freeze for smoothies, pancake topping or parfaits
  • Discount bag of red peppers – grill and freeze strips for pizzas or pasta
  • Spinach – sauté and add to a frittata or spinach dip

Learn more about how long certain foods last to improve your confidence around food safety. Check out the website and app stilltasty.com for some insight into the shelf life of thousands of foods.

Check out our previous radio interview and blog post: 3 Ways to Make Your Veggies and Fruit Stay Fresher Longer

3. Cook Once, Eat Twice (or More)

A time saving strategy that anyone can use, especially those that are cooking for one is to cook once and eat twice (or more). There are several ways to do this depending on what I like to refer to as your “food personality” (how often you shop, if you enjoy cooking or want to minimize time in the kitchen and how much variety you like to have day to day):

  • Freezer ingredient
      • Prepare one part of the meal in bulk and place just that component in the freezer so you can mix and match options for variety.
      • Prep single servings of cooked grains such as rice, quinoa, barley, risotto, orzo pasta, couscous and more (place in small containers, Ziploc bags or place in greased muffin tins and pop out once they are frozen).
      • Also prep single servings of stir-fry or single serving portions of meat/poultry/fish (freeze pre-marinated/seasoned raw or alternatively freeze pre-cooked).  
      • Cook a large pot of legumes and freeze in individual packages or freeze half used cans of chick peas, black beans and baked beans for future use.
      • Also enjoy the flexibility of quick to grab options such as frozen edamame beans, frozen shrimp, frozen veggies and more.
  • Freezer meal
    • Prepare full meals in bulk and place in single servings in the freezer.
    • Try soup, stew, chili, pasta & meat/lentil tomato sauce, lasagnas, curries and casseroles.
  • Connected meals using “planned extras”
    • If you are not a fan of completely eating the same meal as leftovers then try a connected meal using a “planned extra” by intentionally cooking more of ONE food item to use in another meal or snack later in the week.  
    • For example you may decide to cook double the amount of grilled chicken breasts and tonight you are enjoying with rice and steamed veggies and tomorrow you are using the extra chicken for a quesadilla and the third day you are using the extra rice for a shrimp stir-fry.

The best way to move forward on a healthier eating plan for yourself is to book some nutrition counselling with a Registered Dietitian on our team so we can customize a plan for home and eating out that will be specific for your likes and dislikes.  Contact us to set up a free phone consultation to find out how we can help: CONTACT US.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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