Meal planning can help you cut out processed foods, lower your grocery bill, or transition to healthy eating. But not all meal plans are created equal!
Food waste reduction and budget adherence shouldn’t be difficult when cooking for one person, with these tips for how to meal plan single person making it much simpler than before.
1. Know Your Needs
Food needs differ for everyone, which is why it’s crucial to understand your personal requirements when planning meals, especially when cooking for one. Many people make too much food at first and end up wasting it; to avoid that happening again, try prepping less meals initially so as not to waste food – for instance if your weekly plan includes 10 but only requires 6 then prep that many dishes instead – it will reduce waste in your fridge and save money in the process!
Meal planning can be an excellent way to stay energized, meet nutrition goals and reduce food waste. All it requires is taking the time to assess your individual needs, create a plan and shop smartly.
Your nutritional needs may differ daily depending on factors like attending the gym or binge watching crime documentaries, so it’s essential to pay attention to your body and its internal cues for hunger, fullness and satisfaction. If you feel out of balance when it comes to your eating habits or are finding it hard to stick with healthy habits in general, consulting a registered dietitian or health care professional might provide valuable tools and support needed for sustainable wellness in terms of eating healthily for life.
2. Make a List
Before heading out to the grocery store when planning meals for one, it’s essential that you create a list. Doing this can reduce food waste and ensure you only purchase what’s necessary – whether shopping online or in-store, taking the time to write out a list will save money and prevent you from making unnecessary and more costly purchases.
Before creating your shopping list, it’s a smart idea to assess what’s already in your fridge and pantry. Doing this allows you to plan meals around ingredients you already possess while also keeping track of expiration dates to know which foods must be consumed first so as to not end up wastefully discarding good food.
Once your shopping is done, stick to your list when it comes to meal preparation. Avoid cooking more than is needed and only prepare what will serve for one week’s meals. At first this may prove challenging if you’re used to prepping large batches for family members but with practice you will gain a sense of how much food to prepare alone.
On days when cooking is too much to bear, having some low-effort recipes handy that are quick and simple is helpful. These could range from something as straightforward as veg stir fry to creating a grazing board of veggies, dips, and crackers for your grazing board can provide great options when on-the-go lunches are essential.
3. Plan Ahead
Meal planning is the surest way to ensuring that you eat healthfully over time. Planning ahead saves you both time and stress from picking up takeout, running multiple food errands or having difficulty deciding what’s for dinner at night.
Commence by setting aside time on Sunday or another suitable day to plan out what meals will be prepared this week and create a shopping list. Using paper or an app like Mealime is fine – whatever method is chosen just try to keep things as organized as possible as this helps avoid purchasing items you already possess and reduces chances of forgetting something at the store.
As you create your shopping list, be sure to include any essential ingredients for recipes on your meal plan; this will save trips back and forth to the store. It is also smart to examine your pantry and fridge prior to venturing out as some ingredients might already be lying dormant!
Meal times shouldn’t just be about eating — they should also serve as an opportunity for connecting with family and friends. At dinnertime, try to focus on having pleasant dialogue while limiting negative comments that could spark arguments or hurt feelings. To stay on track with meals more easily, set an exact mealtime each night so everyone knows when everyone will sit down together at the table for dinner – this helps everyone feel more in control of their daily schedules and overall health.
4. Shop Wisely
Meal planning for one is essential if you wish to save both money and reduce food waste; research shows that households typically discard 30% of what they purchase as waste! By planning wisely, you can save yourself both money and increase the likelihood of having healthy meals readily available throughout the week.
Make an inventory of what ingredients you already possess and create a shopping list of ingredients you require, this will give you an accurate idea of how much to purchase. Produce is especially helpful here; many stores provide charts or online tools which show when certain produce items are in season and likely cheaper.
Shopping wisely means limiting the number of trips you make. The more often you shop, the more money you may end up spending. One way of shopping wisely is limiting junk food purchases which tend to be the most tempting – but at no nutritional benefit whatsoever. Instead, choose whole grain and fresh fruits/veggies products instead for healthier choices.
Prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed by sales. Aim to keep track of regular prices so that you know when something is a bargain. Additionally, try shopping in the same place every time to familiarize yourself with its layout and exit quickly; setting a specific timeframe and then stopping when finished will prevent mindless strolling through shopping centres that could result in spending more than intended!
5. Plan Your Meals
Meal planning can help save you money, reduce wasteful food purchases and help meet nutrition goals more easily. But getting started may seem intimidating – particularly when cooking alone! But there are strategies specifically tailored for solo chefs with less leftovers, more variety and flexibility in mind.
At the start of each week, consider your schedule and identify which meals will be necessary to fuel your day. Plan recipes and grocery lists accordingly – ensure there is enough protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats in each meal as they will keep you feeling full and satiated. Including fiber in every meal can keep you feeling satisfied for longer!
Plan ahead for any meals you’ll be having away from home this week, such as dining out or at someone else’s. Don’t forget snacks as these may be easier to grab on-the-go and plan for any fluid needs you might have based on age and activity level – your needs may differ!
Once you’ve created your meal prep plan, start focusing on foods that require less time to prepare – eggs make for an easy and quick breakfast or lunch option, while prepping uncooked probiotic foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, soft cheese or pickled vegetables) is another simple way to increase gut-healthy nutrition. Don’t be intimidated by taking shortcuts such as frozen dinners or prepackaged sauce jars!