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Preparing Meals for 1 or 2

Worksheet for planning your meals for one week
Download and print the 7 Day Meal Planning Worksheet

Nashville, Ark. – Has your family size decreased due to kids moving off to college or getting started out on their own? Are you an “empty nester”?

Do you live by yourself and find it difficult to prepare healthy, inexpensive meals? This can be a real challenge. However, with the right tools and information, you can eat healthy while enjoying the foods you love. Here’s how:

  • Plan healthy meals. Make sure you are getting the nutrition you need. Follow the recommendations of MyPlate. Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. Switch to fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Cook once, eat twice. Plan two meals from the same main dish. Let’s say you have a roasted chicken for dinner one night. Debone and save the leftover chicken for quesadillas, chicken soup, etc. If you find you can’t eat the leftovers in 3-4 days, you should freeze them for later. Makes a quick meal on busy nights.
  • You may need to rethink how you shop. Buying in bulk often saves money; however, if you end up throwing away what you don’t use, then you really aren’t saving money. Repackage food, especially meat into serving sizes.
  • Individual packaging. Individual packages of foods may be the way to go. For example, buy string cheese that is individually wrapped. Buy a bag of rolls or biscuits that are stored in the freezer. Take out what you will use and keep the rest in the freezer. This works for frozen vegetables and fruit. Instead of buying fresh, buy frozen bags and use only what you will need. The taste is comparable to fresh and so is the nutrient content.
  • Keep foods in refrigerator/freezer. Make the refrigerator and freezer your friend. Keep bread in the refrigerator to make it last longer. Most food items can be frozen for longer storage. The Cooperative Extension Service has a great handout on how long to keep foods in the freezer for optimum taste and quality.
  • Eating out. Most restaurants give large portions of food. Split an entrée or save half of it for later. It is recommended to divide the meal before you start eating to avoid overeating. Be sure to refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
  • Remember food safety. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Leftovers can be kept for only 3-4 days. Thaw meats and foods in the refrigerator to avoid bacterial growth. Food should not be stored in the freezer forever! Don’t forget about the foods you put in there.
  • Reduce size. Most recipes can be reduced in half or in thirds. If the recipe calls for 1 cup and the recipe makes 4 servings, just divide it by half.
  • Do eat! While that may sound crazy, you may be tempted to say, “Oh, I’m not that hungry”, or “I don’t feel like cooking”. Eat! The foods you choose should be healthy. It is just like a car, put in the wrong gas and you can’t expect the car to run smoothly. The same thing happens in our bodies. To be our best, we must eat the right foods.

Before long you will master the art of reducing recipes and making meals go further. If you are interested in receiving the fact sheet on storing foods in the freezer or for a handy chart showing how to reduce recipes, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Recipe of the Week

            This recipe was featured this week at the Extension Homemakers Leader Training lesson, “Quick, Healthy, Inexpensive Meals for 1 or 2”. It is perfect for fall! If you would like to receive information about Extension Homemakers and what they do to help improve their lives through education or improve the lives of others through community service, contact the Extension office. I will be glad to add you to our mailing list which announces most activities. Maybe you are interested in getting involved in community activities that do not cost a lot. Extension Homemakers is a great volunteer organization that works closely with the Extension Service.

Skillet Pork and Apples

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 (3 to 4-ounce) pork chops

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • ½ Tablespoon margarine (1 ½ teaspoons)

  • ½ medium sliced apple

  • 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons low-sodium chicken broth

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, sprinkle evenly over port chops.

  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  3. Add pork and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until browned.

  4. Add margarine. Cook until melted.

  5. Add sliced apples and chicken broth.

  6. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until pork is done.

  7. Note: Double the recipe if you are serving four people.
  1. Nutrition Information per Serving: 280 calories, 15g fat, 30g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 670mg sodium.


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517

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The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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