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Plan a menu – Take some time each week (probably between 30 minutes to an hour) and plan out everything you're going to eat for that week. Use weekly advertisements to find items on sale that can be used as a main ingredient.

Look at your favorite restaurant menus for inspiration and find a similar recipe online or in a cookbook.

Look for vegetarian recipes. If you really want meat use it as more of a condiment (such as in stir fry) rather than the main ingredient.

Use dry beans such as kidneys, pintos, or black beans as a base. They are good sources of protein and fiber and are cheap (even cheaper if you rehydrate them instead buying canned)

Make sure you have all the equipment you need for the recipes you've chosen

Have a backup plan –Sometimes new recipes flop. Make sure you've got something quick and easy as a backup each week so you're not scrambling when that casserole just doesn't taste right.

Plan quicker meals – Cooking four separate items takes a while. Look for meals that incorporate starch, vegetables, and proteins in one or two pots.

Experiment with cheap ingredients – Try new ingredients that don't cost a lot like tomatillos, eggplant, or beets. There's nothing worse than spending $10 on a specialty ingredient only to find out you don't enjoy it.

Flash freeze vegetables and fruits in season – Spread sliced fruits and vegetables on a cooking sheet evenly spaced and freeze. After this initial freezing you can store produce in a ziplock bag for months to come.


Make it healthier – Salt can be cut in half in many recipes. Bite sized vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, or spinach can be steamed or sautéed and added to pasta sauces. Use whole wheat bread or pasta. There's almost always something to change without sacrificing all the flavor you love.

Use equipment you know – Do not buy an expensive piece of equipment that you'll use twice a year to make a dish.

Use equipment you have on hand and if you must buy something, look for it at thrift stores or yard sales.

Store leftovers properly- Ensure that food is below 40°F within 4 hours of being served. For more information on freezing, canning, food storage and food safety visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation.


Listen to those around you and write their suggestions down.

Write your own suggestions down. Did you think something was missing? Did someone else?

Write down the time it took you to cook. How long did it take? Was it because you were unfamiliar with a recipe?

Write down what you liked. What made this dish delicious?

Write down how much the meal cost. Is it worth it to make it again?

Cooking for One

Buy only bulk items you can store – If you buy a value pack of chicken, freeze it in one or two portion bags so you can conveniently thaw what you need.

Share bulk items with friends/ family – Do you know someone else cooking for one?

Shop together, split up the merchandise, and start saving.

Source: Benjamin Gray, BS, Graduate Assistant, The University of Georgia, Dept. Foods and Nutrition.








Site last reviewed: October 24, 2012

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily
reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia
or the University System of Georgia.

Division of Aging ServicesGeorgia.gov Unversity of Georgia