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Cooking for one: How to do it right

Cooking for yourself can be an enjoyable and rewarding process. But when done incorrectly, you could end up wasting valuable time and money. Ensure you’re making the most of your cooking routine with this simple guide.

Woman cooking

Know your preferences

When you’re cooking for yourself, whipping up a single serving three times a day can be exhausting. So making a larger quantity and saving some for later can be a good plan. This method is most effective when you know you like a certain dish and feel it will keep well in the fridge, freezer or cupboard. If you’re trying a risky recipe for the first time that you may end up never wanting to eat again, cooking a single serving so that leftovers don’t go to waste may be the best idea. But if it’s an old staple you know you will love, cook several servings and then divide what’s left into separate sealable containers for you to enjoy another time.

Preserve properly

Ensuring that you make the most of what you cook for yourself relies heavily on your ability to preserve items properly. There’s nothing more disappointing than going to help yourself to leftovers when you’re short on time, only to discover that your goodies are no longer any good. Each time you make more than you can eat in the immediate future, consider how long the leftovers will last. Cookies or muffins, for example, can last for a week or more when kept in an airtight container that is stored in a cool, dry place. Chicken, on the other hand, shouldn’t be consumed once it has been cooked and left in the fridge for more than three or four days. And then there are simply preference no-nos such as soggy, dressing-covered lettuce. Make sure you are storing food in the appropriate manner and at a temperature that will allow it to stay edible for as long as possible. Also try to keep food that needs to be consumed soon in a visible area. Don’t let last night’s dinner get shoved to the back of the fridge, or you may forget about its existence. Instead, keep it where you can see it so you can constantly remind yourself it needs to get eaten or frozen ASAP.

Plan ahead

Before you tuck food away, ask yourself how long it will be good for and when you plan on eating it. If, for instance, you know you’ll want chicken stir-fry for the next four dinners in a row, go ahead and whip up a large batch. If, on the other hand, you know you’ll be eating out for the next few nights, cook only a single portion. Or make a large serving and freeze what you don’t eat immediately. Discovering you actually need it and have to defrost a portion is far better than letting several servings go to waste. So, be smart about your cooking, and you can enjoy meals for one — waste-free — on a regular basis!

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