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All the Key Ingredients to Stop Wasting Food and Cook Properly for One

I can’t make a cooking post without somehow inserting my love of all things curry
I can’t make a cooking post without somehow inserting my love of all things curry
Photo: emy

Cooking your own meals is a bonafide way to save money and eat better. Especially now, with a lot of people still quarantined, cooking is a good distraction from everything while also making something essential to your well-being. But, it seems like every recipe is portioned for an entire family. I’m one of those jerks that needs to make sure I don’t eat the wrong things (or else), so I can’t really cook and share with my roommates.

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Ah the joys of youth, not having to worry about what you’re eating and how you may come to regret it later.

As such, I’ve needed to adjust a lot of my cooking habits so I’m not overcooking and stuck throwing things away. If you’re in the same boat, or live alone, these tips can help you out!

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Chop the Ingredient List in Half

Most recipes make four, six, or eight portions of food. When you’re cooking for yourself, that’s entirely too much! The best way to not make too much food is to adjust your recipe to simply … make less. But when you’re staring at an ingredient list, that can be easier said than done. Using an online recipe calculator will simplify the process and make meals you can eat before they go bad.

Prepare to Eat Tonight’s Dinner as Tomorrow’s Lunch

Glass Meal Prep Containers (5-Pack) | $26 | Amazon
Glass Meal Prep Containers (5-Pack) | $26 | Amazon
Graphic: Elizabeth Henges

On that note, one thing that’s always is a good idea is to have your dinner leftovers for lunch the next day. It saves you time from making a separate lunch while making sure you have a reason not to pick up the phone and browse DoorDash. Just make sure to splurge a little now and get some nice glass Tupperware to throw your leftovers in. Glass lasts way longer and won’t get stained by saucy dishes. With them being dishwasher and oven friendly as well, it’s a no brainer to spend a little extra now for the glass upgrade.

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Portion That Meat Out Before Freezing It

Ozeri Kitchen and Food Scale | $14 | Amazon
Ozeri Kitchen and Food Scale | $14 | Amazon
Graphic: Elizabeth Henges
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Buying meat in bulk is always a good idea. FREEZING it in bulk isn’t. By portioning out the meat properly before freezing, you can make sure you have the correct amount ready to go when you’re cooking. And it thaws faster! I recommend half-pound portions—while a pound of meat is standard, that’s hard for one person to eat on their own. Besides, if you actually do need a pound for something, you can just pull two portions out and be done with it. Better than pulling out a pound of meat, thawing, then refreezing half. That runs the risk of freezer burn!

A Lot of Things Can Be Frozen!

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So not all recipes can be adjusted for cooking less, particularly if you’re using a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Appliances like these are more or less made to make big items in bulk. But, the secret is a lot of recipes, or cooked recipe components, can be frozen for later use! Things like soups, dips, and sauces can be stored in a freezer baggie or sealed container and saved for later. The best part is if you don’t want to cook, you can just thaw a package out and heat your meal up—no need to open up that DoorDash app!

Hell, my roommates freeze anything and everything ... I saw some frozen fried chicken in there once. I wouldn’t go QUITE that far. Then again, something like that might be perfect to repurpose into another meal.

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Appropriately Sized Cookware Helps a Great Deal

Dash Electric Griddle | $48 | Amazon
Dash Electric Griddle | $48 | Amazon
Graphic: Elizabeth Henges
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Alternatively, just having the right tools for the job can help a lot. It might seem silly, but having smaller cookware and smaller appliances simply make it easier to cook. This is doubly true if you don’t have a lot of kitchen space!

I find that a lot of Dash’s mini appliances get the job done for me in that regard. I have a rice cooker, griddle, and egg cooker, and they all do the things I need them to do, but without having to make a big serving. The rice cooker cooks just enough rice for me, while the egg cooker can make up to 6 hard-boiled eggs without having to play around with a boiling pot of water. They’re pretty great!

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