How to reduce food waste when you are cooking for one
Are you living alone? Or maybe you have a different dietary requirement than the rest of your family? Or do you live with lots of other people but only cook for yourself?
Either way, cooking for one can be a real challenge; recipes are generally written to feed four people, it can be hard to get through a whole loaf of bread or a head of lettuce before it goes bad, and it can be expensive and wasteful to buy food that doesn’t end up getting eaten.
So what can you do?
Love Food Hate Waste has put together some tips to help you reduce food waste when you are cooking for one.
Planning and shopping tips:
- Plan your meals smartly
Always plan your meals before going to the supermarket, even if it is just one or two meals. Plan meals that will use the same ingredients in different ways e.g a piece of pumpkin could be roasted one day with the leftovers used to make pumpkin gnocchi and hummus.
- Purchase versatile ingredients
Another smart move is to buy ingredients that can serve many purposes. E.g. a bag of spinach could be used in an omelette for breakfast, in a sandwich or salad at lunch and in a curry or pasta for dinner. Tortillas, which last forever in the freezer, can be used for burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas etc.
- Be realistic about what you need
Telling you to only buy what you need may sound obvious, but it is important that you are realistic about how much food you will actually eat. If you only eat one piece of fresh fruit a day, only buy enough to cover you until your next supermarket trip, don’t try to fill your fruit bowl. This will also ensure that the produce you are eating is as fresh as possible.
- Buy from bulk food stores
Shopping at bulk food stores, and the bulk bins at the supermarket, allows you to only buy the amount that you need. This is perfect for dry goods like couscous and oats, as well as spices, dried fruit, nuts and snack foods.
- Choose frozen vegetables
Buying frozen vegetables means that you can always have produce on hand, without worrying that it will go bad before you can eat it all.
- Go for prepared meals
While we don’t advocate eating frozen or prepared meals all the time, sometimes they can be a good alternative. While they can be pricey, they do allow you to get a balanced meal without having to buy all of the individual ingredients needed to make the meal – which increases the likelihood that the leftover ingredients will go to waste.
- Divide and conquer
We understand the frustration of only being able to buy some foods in large amounts – such as a loaf of bread or a litre of milk. Because it can take you a lot longer to get through this food, it is extra important that you are storing it correctly to make it last longer.
– Bread should be kept in the freezer. Make sure you give it a light tap on the bench before freezing so it is easy to separate each slice once it is frozen.
– Cut a block of cheese in half and keep half in the fridge and then grate and freeze the rest. If it is a block of feta, making a simple brine to store the cheese in will prolong its life.
– If you can’t finish a bottle of milk before it goes bad, freeze some of it in ice cube trays on the day you open it. You can then use the frozen milk as you need it. These ice cubes are the perfect size to go in a cup of tea or coffee.
- Portion meat before freezing it
Depending on where you shop, it can be difficult to buy meat in individual portions. To ensure that this extra meat doesn’t go to waste, portion your meat into individual meal sizes and then freeze them. That way you can just grab the amount you need, rather than having to defrost 500g of mince.
- Freeze everything
As you have probably gathered by now, your freezer can be used for all sorts of things, including things like pesto, hummus and leftover smoothies. Take our quiz to find out all of the different foods that can be frozen.
- Cook once, reheat all week
Making a lasagne for one can be a lot of work. So instead of eating it all week long, divide it up and fill the freezer with grab-and-go meals. This will make the long cooking time worth it.
- Get to know what you need
Work out how much rice, pasta and other ingredients that you need to feed yourself for one meal (or one meal with leftovers). That way every time you cook you won’t accidentally end up with way more pasta than you wanted. Alternatively you can buy microwavable rice in portions for 1 – 2 meals.
- Have a good rotation of go-to meals
Have a few quick and easy go-to meals that don’t require many ingredients. Things like quesadillas and omelettes can be whipped up quickly and can be adapted to use whatever you have.
- Want to bake but don’t want to eat a whole cake?
Some cakes and other baked items freeze well. Alternatively, share your baking with friends, family or colleagues or sign up for Good Bitches Baking.