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One and two person households are the fastest growing segment of the population.  If you are in this category, read on for ideas on Cooking for One or Two.

The first step is to plan weekly menus.  Incorporate the following into your weekly plans:

  • Make half of your grains whole grains.  Look for whole grain on the ingredient statement on the food label.
  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables and try to incorporate a variety of colors.
  • Use fat-free and low-fat dairy products.

Planning makes a difference.  Start your planning by checking to see what food items you have on hand.  Check through the pantry, the refrigerator and the freezer, so that you have a good idea of what you can start with.  Plan these items into the menu.  Also, make sure that you set a food budget allowance for the week.

Menu planning may seem overwhelming, set a goal to plan a menu for one day, and add one day at a time until you have a full week.  If you have a regular breakfast pattern or lunch ideas, put them first. 

Sample Breakfast:  1 cup toasted oat cereal, 1/2 cup fat-free milk, 1 small banana, 1 slice whole wheat toast, 1 cup orange juice

Sample lunch:  Tuna fish sandwich – 2 slices rye bread, 3 oz water packed tuna, 2 teaspoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon diced celery, 1/2 cup shredded lettuce, and 2 slices tomato; 1 medium pear, 1 cup fat-free milk

Remember to include low-calorie snacks.  1 medium piece of fruit = 1 serving.

As you are planning your menus, consider using some of your favorite recipes.  Have you avoided using some of your favorite recipes because they produce a large portion?  Consider reducing the recipe.  Start by dividing it in half.  Choose recipes which are easier to divide.  Some foods are good prepared in large quantities and reheated while other recipes are more desirable when made in smaller quantities.  If you like a recipe in a larger quantity consider making the entire recipe and freezing some for later.  Keep notes about what works and share these recipes with your friends and neighbors.  There are also many websites that have recipe calculators which can help you to reduce recipes. And there are many recipe books available which have smaller portions.

Now plan a grocery list of needed items. The menu is a guide so be flexible.  You may find out that the grocery store is having a special on meat or a certain fruit or vegetable, change your menu to accommodate this bargain.

Remember to keep it healthy.  Keep it special by adding variety.  And, consider occasionally sharing meals with others.  Cooking for one or two can be enjoyable by putting a little time into planning ahead.

References: 

North Dakota State University, Cooking for One or Two, August 2006.

Ohio State University Extension, Weekly Meal Planner.

Ohio State University Extension, Grocery Shopping for One or Two, http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/pdf/0160.pdf

Ohio State University Extension, Cooking for One or Two, http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/pdf/0161.pdf

Author:  Linnette Mizer Goard, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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