Cooking for two can oftentimes be a daunting task when trying to make healthier menu changes. Recipes yielding larger portions, fear of not using produce quickly enough, or making the most of the ingredients we have can be common issues when cooking and grocery shopping each week.
Luckily, there is a way to make and maintain healthy eating habits to fit any household number. Micca Donohoo, a registered dietitian with the Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center, recommends these seven easy tips to scale your menus and recipes down to fit your table for two. Enjoy!
- Make a plan: Take time to write down the menu for the week and create a shopping list. Grocery shopping becomes easier with a plan and ensures that you have everything you need when you’re ready to cook.
- Cut the recipe in half: Recipes typically will produce a larger yield to accommodate a greater amount of people. Look at the typical number of servings and cut the recipe in half to produce more tailored servings to a smaller crowd. This tip also works well when scaling smaller recipes to fit a larger crowd by doubling the recipe.
- Freeze it! If cooking the regular-size serving recipe suits your fancy, portion out two servings and freeze the rest. Freezing keeps food fresh longer and helps prevent waste. Using plastic containers or freezer bags will help in dividing the perfect portions to enjoy later in the week or on a night where time is scarce. You also can freeze larger packages of meat or other grocery items in smaller portions to use at various times in the week, too. Breads, meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts and seeds all freeze well.
- Cook it once, use it twice: Think of using the same lean protein or whole grain for two different meals during the week to save on time and assist with splitting up larger-portioned packages. Making salsa chicken in the slow cooker on one night can turn into chicken enchiladas later in the week. Cooking rice in a larger batch can be used as a side for one meal and in a casserole the next.
- Mix it up: Divide the produce you purchase into fresh and frozen varieties to have the best of both worlds. Frozen vegetables and fruits (watch the sauces and added sugars!) are low in sodium, nutrient packed, and last longer than their fresh counterparts.
- Shop smaller: Large, warehouse packages of certain foods can be cheaper to purchase—but only if you are eating them before they expire. When buying in bulk, ensure that you will use the whole package or it can be frozen for later.
- Shop with convenience in mind: It is realistic to realize that there will be days when you don’t have the time to cook. Plan ahead and keep on hand ready-to-eat, low-fat, reduced-sodium canned soups and low-fat frozen meals or prepackaged single-serving foods. The latter can be pricey, so stock up when you find a sale.