Darcie Bakes //

Baking from scratch… because good things take time.

Random Sides // Cooking for One: Part I [Tips + Tricks].

It recently dawned on me that I seem to get quite a few questions from my friends and acquaintances on my cooking shenanigans – particularly related to how I cook for one. I thought it might be useful if I compiled a post with all my tips and tricks that I’ve learned. Obviously, I am by no means an expert. I didn’t go to culinary school, and I make mistakes allllll the time. But I have been cooking – more or less – on my own for the last 10+ years, so it’s safe to say that I have learned quite a bit over time, mostly through trial and error [and a few cooking classes here and there].

This post is going to be divided into two separate parts, mostly because I can’t help but ramble on subjects about which I am constantly thinking. In this first post – aka Part I – I am going to just discuss my thoughts and some general tips and tricks. In the next post – aka Part II – I will add more resources for recipes and inspiration, so that’ll be filled with lots of links and pretty pictures. In the meantime, let’s get started with Part I!

{Graphic created by me. Garlic icon from The Noun Project.}

Part I: My General Tips + Tricks + Thoughts on Cooking for One.

{Obligatory Disclaimer: It should also be noted that about 77% of my diet is vegetarian-based, with some meat (mostly chicken and fish) thrown in along the way, so I keep my cooking relatively simple; I tend to not cook a ton of meat for myself. So… If you’re looking for tips on something like “steaks for one,” you’ll have to look elsewhere, as that’s not my area of expertise!}

// Benefits of Home Cooking for One:

  • Good life skill to possess: When you’re knowledgeable in a kitchen, it just makes you feel like such a badass. Throwin’ down in the kitchen like a boss makes me feel as if I am winning at #adulting, despite the fact that I still don’t understand the point of taxes (I’m only partially kidding). It’s just a great way to learn and grow as a person. Heck, we all have to eat; might as well make the most of all this planet has to offer us as far as food is concerned, ya know?
  • Cost savings galore: Unless you’re shopping at Whole Paycheck – whoops, I mean Whole Foods – all the time, cooking at home is a great way to save some paper [and by paper, I mean money].
  • Cooking well can potentially impress a hottie: I mean… The ability to cook a good meal is hot, amirite? If you’re a good cook, then your significant other (or potential SO) is probably going to be pretty impressed. And who can blame ’em? 😉 Just some food for thought! [So many puns in this bullet point! Ha!]
  • It’s often healthier: When you cook or bake something yourself, you know exactly what goes into it. It then becomes easy to make healthier choices in regard to food. Don’t get me wrong; I still love comfort food (and I’ll cook it for myself with no shame) just as much as the next person. But it’s nice to know that, for the most part, I have complete control over what goes into my body.

// Darcie’s General Tips + Tricks:

  • I have loosely devised a “meal rotation plan,” and I (more or less) stick to it. From that rotation, I plan for and cook about two or three meals per week. Those two or three meals will get me by, depending on my plans for a given week [e.g. going out to eat with friends, working at the cooking school and getting fed, etc]. Note: I will share a sample meal rotation plan that I follow at some point on this blog, if y’all are interested. 
  • Cut recipes in half, and sometimes in half again: Most recipes make amounts that will serve 4+ people. Obviously, that’s pretty unnecessary for a single person (and even two people). When it comes to cooking, halving a recipe is easy. With baking, reducing recipes does get more tricky, so I usually tend to avoid that. However, as a general rule of thumb, any time I am looking at a recipe for a meal, I will automatically halve it just so that I don’t have so much darn food laying around. It greatly reduces food waste (which I hate), and it is better for portion control.
  • Sharing with friends: If you don’t want to or can’t cut a recipe in half, why not invite a friend or two over for dinner? You can cook together, or offer to do all the cooking and serve everyone dinner [tell a friend to bake some cookies or bring some booze in return!]. Eating is such a social activity for humans, so sharing your meals with others is a great way to bond, eat delicious, home-cooked food, and ensure that there’s less waste.
  • Learn to love leftovers: Orrr don’t. When it comes to The Great Leftovers Debate, I’m pretty sure that people either love or despise leftovers. There doesn’t seem to be much of an in-between. My opinion on leftovers is as follows: some things are fantastic for leftovers [e.g. chili and fried rice], but with most meals, I kind of hate leftovers. All that to say, as I get older, I have forced myself to tolerate leftovers a bit more, simply because it’s easier and more cost-effective to consume leftovers.
  • Grocery lists are your BFF: I’m a list maker at heart, but seriously, making a list of everything you need before you walk into a grocery store is extremely beneficial. It will keep you on task and ensure that you don’t buy all of aisle five. Think about what sounds good to eat for the week, then look up recipes and make a list of ingredients that you need. I also like to organize my grocery lists by section of the store. For example: all of my dairy items are listed together, all baking ingredients are written down together, etc. This keeps my scatter-brained self much more at ease when I’m shopping for ingredients.
  • The crockpot is also pretty nifty: If you are in your 20s or 30s and do not own a crockpot, do yourself a favor and go get one right meow! They come in all different sizes, and there are a boatload of recipes out there just waiting for you. Crockpot meals are usually pretty simple, and they’re often perfect for busy young professionals.

// Other Final Things to Note:

  • It’s okay to go out to eat. I try to limit how often I go out to eat, but since I’m a self-proclaimed foodie, it’s probably pretty obvious that I enjoy trying out new restaurants. And I’ll admit it: I even give into my sick, vile Arby’s craving once every month or two [dem curly fries doe]. All of these things are fine in moderation; I just prefer to cook my own meals about, oh, I’d say 87% of the time. I will say that it is much easier to forgive myself for giving into my occasional curly fry craving when I know that I cook/eat mostly healthy meals.
  • It’s okay to not know what the heck you’re doing: Cooking seems to baffle many folks, but most of it’s not that difficult to figure out. We have almost no excuse to not try to learn how to cook nowadays, with all of the online resources (blogs, Google, YouTube videos), etc.
  • Be open to learning new things, and definitely be creative and have fun with it: Don’t take cooking [or yourself for that matter] too seriously. Again, everyone has to eat to survive, so you might as well goof around and have fun with something that’s essential to your survival and health! Sometimes I’ll be a total dork and pretend I’m on a cooking show. Other times I will practice mindfulness when I’m cutting up a dang sweet pepper.
  • The bottom line is this: If you can pay attention to the science behind food and know how to follow directions, then you’re golden: With those skills, you can learn how to cook pretty well, especially for a single person. All it takes is a little determination and practice!

*Got any of your own hints/tips/tricks when it comes to cooking for a single person [or even two people]? Let’s hear it!

*Note: Part II – “Resources + Inspiration” – featuring some sweet Instagram pictures of my favorite dishes – is coming soon! Stay tuned! 🙂

PS: This post is dedicated to my good friend Adam! #yaaaaassss

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.