I received this email from a reader a while back…
Q: Hi, Martha, Do you have recipes for just one person? I find most of the recipes are for 4 or more people, so I end up with way too much food. Thank You.
A: It’s a question that comes up regularly, “What’s the best approach to cooking for one (or two) that doesn’t result in too many leftovers?” ” Do you have single-serve recipes that are easy and healthy?”
So I assembled a list of my favorite easy healthy low calorie single-serve recipes. Then I brainstormed the best shopping and cooking strategies and tips to be successful when you’re cooking solo on a diet and organized them here….
Cooking for one has its limitations and can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s begin with a list of some of my favorite easy healthy low calorie single serving recipes with Weight Watchers freestyle SmartPoints…
Favorite Easy Healthy Low Calorie One-Serving Recipes
4-Ingredient Microwave Mug Apple Pancake Puff (198 calories/5 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
WW Cottage Cheese Danish (118 calories/4 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Skinny 4-Ingredient Microwave Mug Frittata (177 calories/1 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats (238 calories/5 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Pepperoni Breakfast Pizza (173 calories 3 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Lunch & Dinner
English Muffin Hawaiian Pizza (230 calories /6 Freestyle SmartPoints)
Cottage Cheese & Salsa Baked Potato (289 calories/7 Freestyle SmartPoints)
Microwave Mug Pesto Chicken & Couscous (350 calories/7 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Healthy Taco Salad for One (297 Calories/9 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Greek Turkey Mason Jar Salad (302 calories/5 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Trader Joe’s Easy Asian Chicken Salad (350 calories/5 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Skinny BLT (247 calories/7 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Skinny Cheesy Hot Dog Quesadilla (250 calories/7 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Hot & Cold Chicken Brown Rice Bowl (368 calories/6 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Crock Pot Salmon & Asian Vegetables (190 calories/4 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Hungry Girl’s Pizza-fied Chicken (272 Calories/2 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Hungry Girl’s Mac Attack Burger Bowl (316 calories /7 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Hungry Girl’s Sloppy Jane Stir-fry (339 calories/5 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Easy Healthy Egg Roll in a Bowl (270 calories/1 WW Freestyle SmartPoint)
Snacks & Desserts
Creamy Chocolate Yogurt (79 calories/0WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Microwave Baked Apple (103 calories/2 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Sugar Free Sliced Apple “Cookies” (245 calories/3 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Skinny 3-2-1 Microwave Mug Cake (105 calories/5 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
WW Gluten Free Chocolate Mug Cake (no cake mix) (138 calories/3 WW Freestyle SmartPoints)
Scrambled Eggs on Toast
Other Favorite Easy Healthy Single Serving Meals:
When you’re eating solo, the decision of what to cook and eat is yours and yours alone, which can take tons of pressure off. You are free to eat whatever you want! Here are some of the foods I choose when cooking just for myself:
Potatoes – You can make one or two baked potatoes in minutes in the microwave. To make it a meal, add veggies, any sauce, shredded cheese, and canned lean chili, beans, or shredded chicken.
Sandwiches – Fancy sandwiches make a nice dinner for one, especially when they are grilled. An easy way to do this is to use your George Foreman as a panini press. Lightly coat the outside slices of bread with canola or olive cooking spray, and cook in your indoor grill for about four minutes. And it’s really hard to beat a good BLT!
Salads – It’s easy to make main-dish green salads in one- or two-serving sizes. The bags already washed and ready to go greens work great because you just take as much as you need, seal the bag back up, and you still have washed and ready lettuce for the next time. Top it all off with bottled light dressing and you’re good to go.
Quesadillas – Another variation on the sandwich theme, your favorite low calorie tortilla can be filled with a variety of ingredients and then just heated on each side until toasty. Think outside the Mexican box like I did when I used what I had around the house to create these tasty skinny cheesy hotdog quesadillas.
Individual Pizzas – Top a tortilla or a split and lightly toasted english muffins with your favorite toppings. Heat in a toaster oven till warm and melty.
Easy Healthy Cooking & Shopping for One Strategies
#1 Plan ahead
One of the keys to successfully cooking for one is planning ahead. Having a meal plan in place before your weekly grocery shopping trip will keep you on track with buying just what you need, and keeping wasted food to a minimum. This is especially helpful when it comes to perishable items, like produce and dairy.
#2 Buy only what you need from the bulk bins, meat/deli counter and salad bar
Shopping from the bulk bins, meat counter, deli counter and salad bar is a great strategy for singles. Why? You can take only as much as you need – a single chicken breast, 1/4 pound of shrimp, 3 slices of cheese, 1 cup of sliced onions and peppers, a few ounces of nuts – instead of buying pre-packaged ingredients you know you won’t use up.
#3 Consider canned and frozen options
Keep frozen fruit and vegetables on hand that will keep much longer than fresh. Just warm up the veggies you need from the bag and the rest goes right back in the freezer. Frozen fruit can top your waffle or be whipped up into a smoothie.
Stock your pantry with convenient canned items including fish, beans and low calorie soups. Dress up canned soup by adding frozen vegetables or leftover meat cut into pieces. Use cans of fish (tuna, crab, or salmon) for sandwiches and a wide variety of salads from green to potato to pasta.
#4 Stick with meals made up of individual ingredients
When cooking for one it is helpful to think in terms of individual elements. Cook single servings of fish, chicken, or steak. Small amounts of pasta or a single baked potato. Even vegetables and salads can be easily prepared for one. When each element of your meal is individual, you have more control over how much you’re cooking. This will also provide you with more options for reusing any leftovers.
#5 Change up your spices and marinades
Just because you’re eating, chicken breast often doesn’t mean it has to taste the same. A fillet of fish or chicken breast can taste totally different depending on the spice blend or marinade you choose. There are so many spice blends and marinades available to choose from you never have to worry about getting bored.
#6 Consider countertop cooking
A toaster oven or indoor grill comes in handy when you just want to broil a chicken breast, salmon filet, or burger. No need to heat up the entire oven or outdoor grill this way.
#7 Cut the recipe in half or quarters
There’s no reason why you can’t make eggplant Parmesan or tuna noodle casserole in smaller quantities. Make a half or quarter of your favorite casserole. If you halve a recipe that calls for a 9 x 13-inch dish, use an 8 x 8-inch square dish or a 9-inch pie plate instead. If you’re making one-fourth of the recipe, a loaf pan might work best. Cooking time might be a bit less, though, so keep an eye on that.
Did You Know that All the Recipes on My Blog Can Be Reduced or Increased with Just a Click to Making Cooking for One Easier?
The ‘servings” for all the recipes on my blog can be increased or decreased adjusting the ingredient amounts accordingly. (Just click the up/down arrow located beside the “servings” number!)
#8 Find creative ways to repurpose your leftovers
Leftovers are an inevitable part of cooking for one that I appreciate. The lazy part of me likes knowing there is always something in the fridge. Not having to start from scratch makes life easier and keeps me from resorting to fast food or takeout when I am too tired and hungry to expend much effort in the kitchen.
But instead of eating the same meal night after night, I like to “re-purpose” my leftovers into a brand new meal, like tacos, quesadillas, a frittata or pasta.
I love having leftovers I can use in different dishes. This is especially easy when you’ve got individual ingredients like grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, rice, or beans ready to go. For example, leftover chicken fajitas can be turned into a quesadilla, burrito bowl or stir-fry with brown rice.
Roasted vegetables can be the filling for an omelet or topping for a salad or pizza or stuffing for a sandwich. Use leftover chili to top a baked potato.
#9 Enjoy breakfast for dinner
You know those nights you want a simple, satisfying supper but have zero energy to cook? Breakfast foods are the perfect solution. It can be as simple as a few scrambled eggs, poached egg on toast, an omelet, or a frittata, with a simple green salad alongside. Even a stack of pancakes can be a light and healthy choice.
#10 Make your own freezer meals
Portion out and freeze any extra servings for future quick and easy meals. I particularly love to do this with soups, stews, chilis and casseroles.
If you’ve made a big pot of vegetable soup but are sick of eating it after a few days, pour it into plastic containers, label it, and freeze it. Then the next time you know you’re going to have a super busy day, open the freezer first thing in the morning, take a look around, and pull out that soup to eat for dinner later that night.
Recipe & Cooking for One Suggestions from Readers
#1 German Potato Salad Recipe For One
- 1 baked potato chopped
- 2 hard boiled eggs chopped
- 2 pieces of bacon
and cook the fat part before it fries.
#2 Batch Cooking for One
Create a stockpile of frozen meals so you can have a different dinner every night…
“I spend one full day cooking and freezing the extras. Then when I have nothing in the refrigerator, I head to the freezer.” ~LeeAnn
“I always cook for 4 even though most of the time it’s just me as I love leftovers and freeze most things, I’m a British girl and make myself a Sunday roast every week then use the leftover meat/ veggies to make soup for the week in the winter months, lucky me living in Florida where fresh fish, fruits & veggies are in abundance – I have no excuse to be overweight!” ~Sharon
“I make large dishes that freeze well and use up all the ingredients I bought. I eat one portion that night, and freeze the rest individually. Once you do this a couple times, you’ll have several different meals to choose from in the freezer ready to heat up and eat. Some of my favorites to freeze are curries, stews, and meatballs in sauce (to keep them from getting dry).” ~Melissa Walthart, Facebook
“While I like leftovers, but I don’t like eating the same dinner two nights in a row. Cooking dinner on back to back nights helps to change things up. For example, if you cook on Monday and Tuesday night, you can re-purpose Monday’s leftovers on Wednesday and do the same with Tuesday’s leftovers on Thursday.” ~Kelli Foster (TheKitchen)
Do you have any other favorite “Cooking for One” tips to share?
I’d love to know so please leave a comment and share them below!
*PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated WITHOUT Weight Watchers Zero Points fruits and vegetables using the WW Recipe Builder.
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