Admittedly, we make a lot of recipes around here for families, parties, and holiday gatherings. We love a good array of dips or compilation of holiday meals.
But, this week, we’re writing for the empty nesters, newlyweds, single ladies, and bachelors in our audience! It can be difficult to cook for just one or two people in your household. If you don’t plan your meals just right, ingredients can often get wasted, food can go bad before it’s eaten, or portions can be completely wrong.
That’s why we’re bringing you some of our best hacks for cooking in households of one or two people. Browse through all of these tips, and then try out our new featured recipes!
1. Bake in Casserole Dishes
There are many benefits to cooking meals in casserole dishes—and not just for large groups or families! Many casserole recipes are low-maintenance and easy to make with ingredients you already have on hand. Plus, you’ll have plenty of leftovers for later in the week that you can store either in the original dish (covered and placed in the refrigerator) or in individual sealed containers that are easy to grab and take for lunch!
Featured Recipe: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
One of our favorite (and easiest) casserole recipes is this Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole. Golden Martin’s Potato Bread crumbs are baked on top of shredded chicken with a creamy sauce to blend it all together. Plus, this dish is versatile and can be paired with any vegetable or side dish you have in storage! We, of course, recommend Martin’s Dinner Rolls with butter.
- 6 Slices Martin’s Potato Bread, made into breadcrumbs (2 cups)
- 3 Pounds Chicken Breast, cooked and shredded
- 1 ½ Cups Sour Cream
- 3 10.75-oz Cans Cream of Chicken Soup
- ½ Cup Butter, melted
- 1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread breadcrumbs evenly over a cooking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden brown in color and slightly crispy. Place chicken in 9×13 casserole dish. Stir together chicken soup and sour cream. Pour over chicken and mix lightly until integrated. In a separate bowl, stir together breadcrumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle over chicken mixture. Then, sprinkle poppy seeds on top. Bake casserole for 20-30 minutes until top of casserole is browned and sauce is bubbly. Serve warm. Note: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Check out a video demonstration of this recipe on our YouTube page here!
2. Use quick, single-serving recipes
Single-serving recipes are becoming increasingly popular and easy to find. Between social media videos and the abundance of recipe blog websites, you can find some really impressive dishes that have been adapted for much smaller portions. Many of them also have a conveniently short prep and cook time!
Featured Recipe: 2-Minute Bread Pudding in a Mug
One example of a convenient and simple single-serving recipe is this Bread Pudding in a Mug! Have a microwave, Martin’s Butter Bread, and a few pantry staples? You can make this dessert in two minutes or less.
- 2 Slices Martin’s Old-Fashioned Real Butter Bread
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 1 Large Egg
- 3 Tablespoons Milk
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
- Pinch of Nutmeg
Spread softened butter around the entire inside of a 6-8 oz mug. Cube bread and place in mug, until very full. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour slowly over cubed bread in mug, pushing bread down slightly with a fork into the egg mixture to coat. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg. Microwave on high for 1 minute and check. Test with a toothpick—if it is inserted and comes out clean, it is done. If not, microwave at 15-second increments, checking in between, until done. Pour vanilla sauce (or a scoop of ice cream!) over finished product and enjoy warm.
3. Freeze unused ingredients
Don’t forget to fully utilize your trusty kitchen appliance when planning meals in small portions! If you made too much soup or casserole, freeze it! If you bought too many veggies, freeze them! If your at-home herb garden is a little too successful, freeze the extras into cubes!
Food that freezes well:
- Most fruit and vegetables: Produce like corn, peas, cauliflower, spinach, berries, bananas, stone fruit, and apples can be sealed and frozen for up to a year. Just make sure you wash and dry before storing away.
- Dough (pizza, pie, etc.): If you made quiche, but have too much leftover pie crust, don’t worry! Just seal up the extra and place it in the freezer.
- Herbs: Herb gardens can be a quite useful asset to have around when you’re cooking for yourself. But, if you end up with extras, we recommend freezing in an ice cube tray along with water to form individual cubes for each herb. Then, just thaw as you have a need for each!
- Chocolate: Sometimes the discounted extra-large bag of chocolate chips at the supermarket is too tempting to pass up. But, if you don’t need them all right away, feel free to repackage some and place in the freezer until you’re ready.
- Soup: This is a great meal prep hack, particularly for the cold winter months. Make a large pot of soup, then split the pot into smaller portions in sealed containers and have a soup supply for an entire season!
- Sauces: Foods like spaghetti sauce, apple sauce, and others can easily be stored in freezer bags and stocked away for months at a time.
- Martin’s Potato Rolls and Bread: Did you know our rolls and bread freeze exceptionally well? Because of the high protein content, our products bounce back from being frozen without losing quality. Just make sure to thaw properly: keep the bag sealed and place on your countertop or table in room temperature and out of sunlight. Open and use when completely thawed.
4. Try canning produce
One of our favorite ways of storing excess produce is to can it (could be due to our deep Pennsylvania Dutch roots). Canning may seem intimidating at first, but with a little research and practice, you’ll be grateful for having things like salsa, pickles, jams, jellies, and more stored away for months.
5. Set aside days for meal planning/prep
Sunday fun day? Try Sunday meal prep day! It can be extremely helpful to set aside one day a week to plan out and cook your meals for an entire week. Whether you cook a few pounds of chicken breast and eat it various ways each day, prepare an entire pot of spaghetti, or create a plan for different meals all week, you can save yourself mid-week headaches by taking the last day of the weekend to think ahead.
Check out some of our favorite meal plans and meal prep tips below!
- Bright & Springy 7-Day Meal Plan
- Summer Vacation 7-Day Meal Plan
- Hearty & Homey 7-Night Winter Meal Plan
- Warm & Cozy Dinners: 7-Night Meal Plan
- 3 Simple Chicken Marinades
Have tips of your own to efficiently cook for 1 or 2? Share them with us on social media!
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