Single Parenting Series: Cooking for One
I have written a few posts so far about being a single parent, you can read my story Fighting Fire with Fire and read a few tips as I kicked off a single parenting series 10 Ways to Save Money as a Single Parent. Today, I wanted to write about a common dilemma for anyone who is single or even families dealing with special dietary needs, how to cook just for one.
My oldest son has food allergies so his meals are entirely different than mine, my younger son wants to eat what his big brother eats so that means both of them are the same and I am on my own. Since becoming single, I have lived mainly off of Lean Cuisines or whatever else I picked up on sale. Recently, however, I have been craving real food.
I tried to cook a few things and quickly realized I was still cooking for a family which meant I had a TON of leftovers...enough to feed a small army or at least one hungry man. I'm not a fan of throwing out food so I had to stop and rethink my strategy. That made me think of a post Brandi wrote for us a few years ago, Couponing for Singles.
The idea behind that article is that couponing IS worth it even if you're single. Because of what I do for a living, I know that to be true. The next question though is how do I cook as a single person? Enter Freezer Cooking. If you haven't heard of it, it is basically the art of cooking meals ahead and freezing them for later.
The best example I can give is to send you to OnceAMonthMom.com. She's AMAZING. I figured out I could cook ahead (all in one day) and freeze the meals in portion sizes that are right for me. Then, when I'm ready, I simply heat the meals up and I am good to go. I save time and because I buy the items with sales and coupons, I save money too.
Want to take it a step further? Recently, I entered into a deal with a friend of mine. Her husband works out of state for most of the year, so she is in a very similar single mom-like lifestyle. We agreed to each cook 5 freezer meals (enough for four people), then we split them. That way, I end up with 10 meals and she does as well. Otherwise, if you're still cooking in army mode, you'll end up with 20 servings of lasagna which you'll probably get tired of long before you eat it.
All that to say, my advice for cooking alone is simply freeze it and split it.
Don't settle for frozen pizza every night just because you're single. Cook what YOU want, plan around sales & coupons then simply freeze it in portion sizes that are perfect for you and/or your kids. It's that easy AND you'll save money at the same time.