SALT LAKE CITY — I recently surveyed over 100 women who cook for themselves and found that time after time, cooking for one can be hard. It's something that many don't look forward to — even those who like cooking.
Cooking a nice meal and then sitting down at your table for one can sometimes be lonely. Not to mention, finding the motivation to cook for yourself after a long day at work might make it a rough situation. But after years of cooking for myself, I've found a few tactics that make cooking for one something to look forward to and something that's actually easier than grabbing takeout.
Here are five healthy meal prep hacks I've found to be helpful when cooking for one:
1. Have a well-stocked pantry
Having a well-stocked pantry is so important for everyone — especially people who are cooking for one. If you have a well-stocked pantry (most of the time), you're more likely to be able to throw together meals that you can actually look forward to. You can even make homemade pasta sauce with pantry staples and it doesn't take much time.
2. Order your groceries
Several grocery stores and online retailers these days offer delivery or groceries for pick-up. Most charge a fee, but think about all the impulse buys that you won't be making. You can do a weekly order of groceries or order ingredients for dinner from work.
3. Buy pre-cut produce
I refused to buy pre-cut produce for a long time. Pre-cut produce is a bit more expensive, but if you repeatedly find rotten produce in your refrigerator because it takes too much time to chop up, then you should consider buying the pre-cut. It's time-saving and makes throwing in some vegetables to whatever you're making so simple. All you have to do is get into the habit of using what you buy. I recommend grabbing a bag of pre-cut veggies whenever you're buying ingredients for what you're going to cook. That way it's there in front of you and a visual reminder to toss in the veggies you just bought.
4. Prepare plain proteins
Cooking a bunch of plain chicken breasts or ground beef can seem boring. But if you cook these meats at the beginning of the week, you can mix it up with the leftovers in the days after. For instance, you can cook up a few chicken breasts one night, shred the meat for chicken tacos the next night and add the meat into pasta sauce for chicken spaghetti the third night.
My meal prep process is also something I believe can help make your life easier. Read more about that here.
5. Hack your meal planning
Hack the hack? Yes! If the thought of planning and prepping meals ahead of time is overwhelming, you don't have to do it. Consider, investing in a dinner box instead. I've tried Hello Fresh a few times and it's been delicious. The recipes are quick and easy, and you don't have to plan or prepare meals because the food and instructions come to you.
While I haven't tried it, some of my clients have loved Gobble for the convenience. Their meals take just 15 minutes to prepare and are all in one pan.
Eating healthy isn't as complicated as we sometimes make it out to be. Eating healthy means finding ways to eat foods that make your body feel good, as well as finding ways to make eating work with your lifestyle and your individual needs.
I've worked toward eating intuitively more and have worked with my clients to do the same. Sometimes that means that I eat lots of produce and other times not so much.
Remember, a healthy way of eating should enhance your life — not complicate it.