Whether you are newly married or have recently found yourself with an empty nest, transitioning into cooking for two can be a bit of a challenge, particularly if you have been used to cooking for a family. Cooking too much food can lead to food waste which isn’t good for the environment or your budget. Here are my 9 Top Tips on Cooking For Two.
Use the Right Sized Pans
When you are cooking for two versus cooking for a crowd, you will need to have smaller size pans. Instead of using a 13 x 9 casserole dish, you will need an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 size casserole dish.
You don’t need a family-size skillet either, a ten-inch skillet should be the perfect size when you are cooking for two. A ten-inch skillet has enough room to make a deep dish pizza, cook a steak, or make a stir fry dinner for two.
A 4-quart saucepan is a perfect size for replacing a Dutch oven for soups and stews. If you like making things like brownies, cornbread, or lasagna make sure that you have a loaf pan, it is perfect for baking in smaller quantities. If you like to use a slow cooker for making dinner, the 4-quart size will take up a lot less room on your counter and it’s perfect for cooking smaller portions. Most countertop appliances come in standard size or mini. Mini food processors, crock pots, griddles, and instant pots take up less space and cook the perfect amount for two.
Buy in Bulk
This might not make a lot of sense when you are trying to cook smaller portions, but buying the bigger packages of some items like chicken breasts, ground beef, or sandwich meat is more budget-friendly when purchased this way. Just take your chicken breasts or whatever other item and portion it appropriately for your needs. Then you can freeze it for later use and still be able to take advantage of bulk prices. If you don’t have a food saver they can be a very handy investment if you are going to be doing a lot of portioning and freezing.
Frozen over Fresh
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of any healthy diet, but when you are only feeding a person or two they can spoil before you are able to eat them all. That’s where frozen fruits and vegetables really come in handy. You can take out the portion of broccoli you need for stir fry, or just enough fruit for your breakfast smoothie without having to worry about it going bad before you can eat it. You can even buy chopped and frozen bell peppers and onions that you can toss in the pan for chili or spaghetti without having to worry about using a whole onion or bell pepper.
Convert Your Recipes
Don’t forget to convert your recipes, most recipes that you find online are meant to serve 4 to 6 people, so if you don’t want a lot of food left over you will need to convert your recipe. You can find free apps available online to help you convert favorite recipes to your desired portion size. Some online recipe cards, Oh, That's Good recipes included, have a handy adjustment tool to increase or decrease the number of servings you need.
Make the Freezer Your Friend
When you are cooking for two, your freezer can become your most used kitchen appliance. When you do have leftovers from recipes that can’t be converted you can store them in the freezer for another time. You may also choose to cook some of your favorite meals in batches so that you do have leftovers for the freezer to pull out for another meal. This is great for planning when you have a busy schedule coming up and making dinner does not fit into your plan. Simply thaw out a meal, reheat, and eat! Your own home cooked freezer meals will be infinitely better than store-bought.
Casseroles and soups are often a good choice for this. Freeze them in single or double portions so that you can pull them out for a quick lunch, or dinner on a night that you don’t feel like cooking.
Keep it Simple
When it comes to making meals for two, oftentimes simpler is better. You don’t have to make and serve a three-course dinner every night of the week. Skillet meals or one pot dinners, and even foil pouch meals where you put your meat, veggies, and seasonings in aluminum foil and cook it in the oven or on the grill are simple, tasty, and filling options. Breakfast for dinner is perfect way to keep it simple.
Just because you are only cooking for two doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan your meals ahead of time. Planning your meals ahead can save you time and money and when is that ever a bad thing? Planning ahead can mean that you cook once and have at least part of your meals done for the rest of the week.
For example, you can roast a chicken on Sunday to serve with a salad, Monday you can have BBQ sandwiches with your leftover chicken, Tuesday you can have a chicken stir fry, and Wednesday you can throw the remaining chicken in chicken pot pie or casserole. You aren’t eating the same meal all week long, but you aren’t wasting any food either.
Before you head out to the store or make your grocery order make sure that you have your grocery list. Check the sales, make your meal plan for the week, and then check your fridge and pantry before making out your grocery list. There’s no need to buy multiples of items that you already have, especially perishable ones like produce or dairy, so having a plan and a list can save you money and reduce food waste.
Keep a Well-stocked Pantry
Having a well-stocked pantry means that you can make a delicious meal at any time without having to go to the store, and without having to worry about anything going bad before you can use it. Some pantry staples you should have include canned meats like tuna or chicken, canned vegetables, chicken, beef, or vegetable broth, and a variety of rice and different kinds of pasta. You should also have some soups, and baking essentials like flour, sugar, salt, cooking oil, and your favorite spices. You might be surprised at all of the things that you can make right out of your pantry.
Cooking for two is a little different than cooking for more, but you can do it. These days you can find lots of amazing recipes that are meant to be made for two. Try new things. Make it fun. Get cooking!
Do you have any other tips to share for people who are cooking just for two?