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How to convert any recipe to feed a crowd or just yourself

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

It's called scaling a recipe, and it's not that hard at all

I cook for two, and I've officially given up on finding recipes that make enough for two. Most make enough for a family of four to eat and have leftovers. So I have two choices — eat that Southwest chicken and rice casserole for three meals straight, or scale it back. Sometimes that's easier said than done. But there are three "secrets" to making it work.

More: What to do if your food is so spicy you can't even eat it

Secret 1: Get over prepackaged "wholeness"

This is your new mantra: "I don't have to use the whole can/box/bag." Learn how to save ingredients in the freezer or refrigerator for use later. Dried pasta lasts a long time, so you don't have to use the whole box if you store it properly. If you need only a tablespoon of tomato paste, you can store the leftover in the freezer or fridge. Just pour the remainder into a freezer bag — never store canned food in the can it came in.

More: 6 easy ways to tenderize tough cuts of meat

Secret 2: Get a scale

A scale will help you accurately scale prepackaged foods. If it comes in a 12-ounce box, you need 6 ounces for half and 4 ounces for a third. Just note that the weight on some canned foods includes the water they're packed in, which doesn't count if you're discarding the liquid. So you'll need to measure all the food after the water has been drained off to get the full weight before dividing. Remember to keep that water for storing anything you're not using for that recipe.

Secret 3: Skip Google, and use this chart

Doubling a recipe is easy. But when you have to cut it in half or even a third, you plug measurements into Google, and it comes up with some crazy decimal, like 0.166666667 US cups (which is what Google says is half of a third of a cup). Not super helpful, huh? Just keep this chart handy instead.

One last note: It helps to have as many different sizes of measuring cups and spoons as possible, even if you have to get two different sets to have them all. Some come with half tablespoons, others with third teaspoons and three-quarter teaspoons.

More: Cooking oil 101: How to choose the right oil for your recipe

Divide any recipe in half or thirds using the chart below.

It's called scaling a recipe, and it's not that hard at all
Image: Tiffany Egbert/SheKnows
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