Cooking for one – with less work and less waste

Cooking for one can be a lot of work. Even if you love being in the kitchen, having to cook (and wash up!) every day can really take the fun out of it.

And as a lot of foods are sold in family-sized packets, it can be a challenge to get through foods in time, meaning more food and money gets wasted. Research shows that people who live alone throw away a greater proportion of the food they buy1.

We’ve pulled together a few top tips to help you save time and money when cooking for one…

Shop smart

Be realistic about what you can eat

People living alone typically waste more food because they buy more than they need1. Checking your cupboards and fridge before you shop can help you avoid overbuying, as can making a shopping list and sticking to it.

Buy loose

For ingredients that come in big packets – like potatoes and apples – it can help to buy them loose so you only buy what you need. Store apples in the fridge, and potatoes in the fridge or a cool and dark place. Farmer’s markets are a great option for accessing loose and locally-sourced vegetables.

Buy long-lasting ingredients

Having a stock of long-lasting ingredients can help to prevent waste. Dried and tinned chickpeas, beans and lentils are super versatile and can be added to sauces, soups, and curries to bulk them out and add protein.

Buy frozen vegetables

Buying some of your vegetables frozen means you don’t have to worry about them going off before you’ve gotten through them. Frozen vegetables typically have a similar nutritional value as fresh vegetables, as long as they are eaten within a year2.

The temperature of your fridge makes a huge difference to how long your food lasts. Fridges should be kept below 5°C.

Cook smart

Batch cook. Cut the time spent in the kitchen by cooking more than you need and saving it for later. Eating the same curry all week gets a bit boring, so try freezing meals in individual portions. Here are some simple and healthy batch-cooking recipes.

Goodbye recipes, hello guess-ipes! Recipes have their place, but when you’ve got random ingredients that need using up fast, it’s helpful to know how to incorporate them into a meal – even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. Most vegetables can be chucked into a soup, curry or chilli. If you want inspiration, check out our food rescue recipes.

Make friends with your freezer

From hummus and cheese to cooked pasta, almost all foods can be frozen. Here are our top tips for making the most of your freezer…

Divide it up. It’s helpful to freeze foods into small portions so that you only defrost what you need.

Slice bread before freezing, and give it a light tap to stop the slices from sticking together. Frozen bread can be put straight into the toaster!

Freeze milk in its original bottle, making sure to empty a small amount out to allow room for it to expand when frozen. Milk separates and turns yellow when frozen – this is perfectly normal and the milk is still safe to drink. You can also freeze milk in ice cube trays and pop a cube straight into a cup of tea!

Label it. Prevent yourself from finding a UFO (unidentified frozen object!) by labelling items with the contents and the date it was frozen.

Check it. It’s easy to chuck foods in the freezer and forget about them. Foods that are frozen for more than a year lose their flavour and nutritional value, so remember to check your freezer for ingredients regularly and use things up.


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