7 tips for cooking as a single, couple, empty nester or grey nomad
People often tell me that cooking for 1 or 2 people is harder than when they were cooking for their family. I wonder if you can relate. When Bill and I became empty nesters, after catering for 3 daughters and their friends, we were so looking forward to being able to cook what we wanted. I thought it’d be so easy to make the transition, but what happened really surprised me…
I struggled big time, not with what to cook, but how to cook for just 2 people instead of 5 or more. We quickly ended up with a freezer bulging with leftover meals and far too many fresh fruit and vegetables ending up in the bin each week.
I also found that when I made recipes that served 4, there was only one portion leftover, which meant we were over-serving and that was never going to end well! So, I knew I had to rethink my approach to cooking.
And I realised that if this was happening in my house, then others had to be experiencing the same thing. This is how my first Cooking for 1 or 2 people cookbook came about, and it proved so popular that I created another one – MORE Cooking for 1 or 2 people.
7 tips for cooking as an empty nester, single, or grey nomad
- Make a list of the recipes for the week ahead. Write your shopping list with the recipes beside you. And when doing the grocery shopping only shop for what’s needed. Get out of the habit of buying in bulk, especially with fresh produce.
- Portion out your meat when you get home. So, if you buy 500g of mince and only need 250g in the recipe, freeze the leftover mince. Make sure you label it clearly with the contents and the date frozen, so there are no surprises when you defrost it.
- Divide your meals into portion sizes before serving. For example, if you make my Lasagne from book 1, you’ll have 8 serves. Cut it into 8 equal sized serves and then serve your portion for that meal. Freeze the leftovers in portion lots and label as above. And, speaking of Lasagne, you’ll find this recipe in my Cooking for 1 or 2 people cookbook, if you’d prefer to make just 2 serves.
- Plan your lunches. You can cook and freeze my savoury slices – Zucchini Slice (Book 1 & Cooking for 1 or 2 people) and Ham and Corn Slice (Book 7 & Cooking for 1 or 2 people) are great served hot or cold for lunches. Soups are another great lunch option, serve with a slice of grain toast. There are 24 delicious soup recipes to choose from in my cookbooks, check them out HERE.
- Choose an easy breakfast. High fibre cereal with skim milk is an easy start to the day. It’s important to not skip breakfast, so if you’re like me and not a huge fan of cereal, try my Breakfast Shakes, I have one every morning and love it!
- Cook baked goods once a month. Decide what baked goods you’ll have for morning and afternoon snacks and make them on one day. Once cooled, package them into individual servings and put in the freezer. This will give you a variety of snacks that won’t break the calorie bank and you’ll cut down on power by using the oven less.
- Make the switch with your main meal. Another thing that we changed was to have our main meal at lunch time. So, our biggest meal of the day is now at lunchtime, and dinner is something easy such as soup and toast. It’s so much better for my metabolism, and the age I am now, to not have the largest meal of the day right before bed.
A few final thoughts
Don’t fall into the trap of not bothering to cook, you are worth it and it’s important for your long-term health and well-being to make time to cook meals, even if there is only you at home. Look for what’s easy but still healthy and nutritious and rethink your approach to putting healthy food on the table each day.