Making Time to Cook Worth It

Having time to cook when you’re single is a matter of strategy. If you plan ahead you can eat better without being tied to the kitchen. You have to set aside a little time to do cooking, which can be for the whole week if you work it out right. You have to know what you need, make meal plans and use grocery lists. Instead of trying to make a tiny meal for one, make a regular size meal and put the rest away for later in the week.

During the week, you want to begin working on what you’ll eat, what groceries you’ll buy and what dishes you’ll cook. Here’s how that would go:

  1. With the help of your nutritionist or dietician, you’ve made a general meal plan that outlines what sorts of food you need for each meal: which meals need vegetables or fruit, which will be vegetarian, and which will be open for things like eating out, meals with friends and so on.
  2. Review the grocery store ad for the week to see what’s on sale. Pick out some foods you’d like to get and some recipes or cooking ideas to go with them. Don’t be afraid of large quantities, your freezer is your friend and that’s less you have to buy later.
  3. Once you know what you’re going to buy and cook, make a grocery list to be sure you don’t forget something. While you’re at it, use a calendar or some other grid to show what you plan to eat for each meal. This is not written in stone. Things will change through the week and that’s okay. What you don’t eat today can probably be eaten tomorrow or some other time. It doesn’t have to be detailed, just some general ideas.

Now you’re ready to shop. Plan on no more than two stops. If you like shopping in a mega supermarket, fine. Or you might want to consider, depending on where you live and your situation, stopping at the farmers market in the morning and in the afternoon go to the supermarket. Whatever works best for you.

If you’ve chosen Sunday afternoon for your cooking, you should be armed with your recipes and your meal plans. Not everything has to be done at once. For example, you can put together the ingredients for a salad and make a dressing, just don’t put them together. If you’re making a pizza, make some extra dough and make an extra crust or two, top them all but bake only one. Wrap up the others and store in the freezer for later.

You can make breakfast sandwiches or burritos while your dinner is cooking and pop those in the freezer for quick breakfasts during the week. Make a meal that offers flexibility, like a pot of soup, stew or chili that can be portioned into containers for later. Use those entrée containers to make your own frozen dinners. Just put in the plate components and stick in the freezer to be microwaved later. All of these things can be done while your cooking a main meal or right after. That way, everything, or nearly everything, gets done in one day, leaving little for you to do when you get home from work.

Also consider making components to various meals like a pot of rice, a pot of beans, a loaf of bread, a saucepan of mixed vegetables. All of these can be placed in containers for use later. You’ve already got everything you need for a tasty stir-fry or meatless dinner or lunch.

With just a little thought and planning you can reduce your cooking time enormously while still allowing you to eat good, healthy, homemade meals all week long.