Fitness in Focus: How to Cook Healthy Meals for One

  • What’s your excuse for not eating right? Some say it’s too expensive to buy healthy foods. But we’ve already disproven that myth because you can eat a healthy meal that costs less than $3 to prepare. Others use the fact that they live alone and only cook for one as an excuse not to eat well. These folks prefer the convenience of package frozen meals, fast-food or a bowl of cereal just to save the hassle of preparing a meal for one. Convenience and laziness come at the price of too much salt, too much sugar, and chemicals you can’t pronounce.  You can do better than that. You can have the simplicity, the variation, the ease and the health all wrapped up into a meal for one if you try.

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    Nothing is easier than pulling something out of the freezer and warming it up. Instead of hovering in the freezer section of the grocery store, fill your freezer with home-cooked meals instead. When you make a big batch of soup, enchiladas or another favorite dish, why not divide up the leftovers into small single portions and put them in the freezer for later. Don’t forget to put a label on your dish or else it will be a mystery meal. If you need a bigger freezer, the chest freezers are efficient and cheap considering the amount of use you’ll get out of it. Actually, you can freeze quite a few things like fruits or vegetables that are in season while you are at it. Those home-cooked meals in the freezer keep you in control of what you eat, even if you’re eating by yourself.


    The nice thing about eating for one is that you don’t have to put on a big production. You can really keep things simple at mealtime. Just a nice dinner salad with some goat cheese, walnuts, green apple, lettuce, arugula and beets can be enough for a meal especially if paired with some corn or beans on the side. Another simple meal is to throw together an omelet especially with some vegetables left over from the night before.  Nothing fancy needed, no three-course meals, no one else to please; a simple meal is just about you and your health.


    Some folks really hate the concept of leftover food as if a left over meal is inferior in some way. To be quite honest, some meals taste better the second day as the flavors melt together. Chili, soup and apple baked beans are much better the second time around. But when it comes to variety, some people cannot stand eating what they had the night before. For those individuals, they should try to prepare meals centered on a common theme like a favorite sauce. By making a batch of Joyce Goldstein’s Mint Vinaigrette, many meals during the week can come forth in full original glory. The Mint Vinaigrette is great with a lamb chop one night and a farro wheat salad the next. One can do the same thing with a batch of Pesto, which is great with pasta or can be made into a Pesto Vinaigrette marinade for fish, chicken or pork. Variations centered around one pre-prepared item make cooking for one easier and fun.


    And of course, you can always invite someone to a meal if you don’t like to cook for one. Meal sharing can also help to share the workload if your guest brings a dish. Then at the end of the meal, you can divvy up the leftover food to fill your freezers with meals for one. This would be great to do on a Sunday before a busy workweek. A larger Sunday meal can help ease the burden of meal preparation during the workweek.


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    Yes, all of this requires a bit more planning and preparation then grabbing a frozen box of food wrapped in cellophane.  But isn’t your health worth it? Staying in control of your ingredients so that you can avoid hidden sugars, fats and chemicals can improve the way you feel, the way you look and the way your food tastes too. Leave the lazy folks with all the excuses behind in the freezer section at the grocery store; you have healthier eating for one to do.


Published On: August 29, 2012