Cooking for two: a lifelong challenge for the childfree

By Victoria Fryer 

The only thing more difficult than cooking for just two people is cooking for one—and I have no tips for that; I was terrible at it. But cooking for two is its own challenge. Recipes come portioned for families, meats often come at least three to a package, and have you seen the size of a box of strawberries?

Over the last seven years or so of living with my husband, I’ve learned some tips and tricks to ease the process of cooking for two and reducing food waste—a personal pet peeve of mine. (Check out this clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on food waste.)

• Freezing is your best friend. Pop those extra cuts of meat in the freezer. Some fruits, veggies, and fresh herbs freeze well, too: I freeze blueberries all the time. Laying them out on a baking pan and freezing them that way before putting them in a bag keeps them from sticking together. Bread is another one. It’s tough for us to go through a whole loaf of bread in a week, so sometimes I’ll split the loaf and put half in the freezer. Everything freezes best a certain way, so use your Google!

• Plan for fewer meals than you think. I plan out my meals for the week on Sundays before I grocery shop, and I used to pick a different meal for each day. But when life gets in the way and you end up with takeout one night, or if a recipe creates unexpected leftovers, some of those ingredients might go to waste. Now, I just get ingredients for three or four different meals.

• Get creative with your leftovers. I could eat the same meal every day, so leftovers aren’t a problem for me. My husband, however, is a different story. Also, what to do if you’re left with extra, but not enough for two full meals? Get creative. Sometimes I’ll use extra chicken to make chicken salad, or throw leftover ground beef or sausage in an omelet or frittata.

• Lean toward foods that last longer—especially for end-of-week meals. Speaking of omelets and frittatas, a dozen eggs can last almost a month in the fridge. I love eggs for breakfast, and at least once every two weeks, we have breakfast for dinner, too. (Hardboiled eggs in my lunch are a go-to for me as well.) And, of course, you can stock up on pastas, quinoa, oats, and other pantry foods since it takes basically forever for them to go bad!

• Take expiration dates with a grain of salt. My almond milk says, ‘Use within seven days of opening.’ Yeah, right. Expiration dates are used to ensure freshness and best quality, but foods are often still good after the date has passed. I don’t know about you, but if the bread isn’t moldy, I’m eating it.

What tips and tricks do you have for cooking for two?

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria

Cooking for two

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