UACES Facebook Cooking for one doesn’t necessarily mean having a bowl of cereal
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Cooking for one doesn't necessarily mean having a bowl of cereal

Fast Facts

  • Freezer is a great tool to make the most of cooking a full recipe
  • Cook once, eat twice
  • Frozen meals are convenient and economical

TEXARKANA, Ark. -- Is your idea of cooking for one a bowl of cereal? It doesn't have to be, said, Carla Haley-Hadley, Miller County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

”Cooking for one or two can be tricky,” she said. “You want to make the most of your ingredients and minimize dishes, but may think it is impossible, especially when many recipes serve four to six people.

“You don’t have to abandon the kitchen for takeout, or settle on eating a bowl of cereal,” Hadley said.

There are several options to help you cook healthy meals and still have a single serving or serving for two.

“One such way is to use your freezer,” she said. “Instead of scaling down a recipe, cook the full recipe.

“Consider freezing soups, casseroles, chili, pasta dishes and extra vegetables,” Hadley said. “Then when you do not feel like cooking, just pull these frozen meals out and enjoy.”

Be sure that at least half of the grains in those cook once, eat twice meals are whole grains.
Cook a batch of whole grains such as brown rice or whole-wheat pasta and freeze in individual portions using a muffin pan. Once frozen, the discs can be stored in a zip-top bag and then reheated or used as the base of a favorite recipe.

Buying frozen vegetables is convenient and in most cases, they’re almost as nutritious as fresh.
They will keep in the freezer indefinitely, but will lose quality the longer they are kept.

“Be sure you shop wisely and chose vegetables without added sauces or butter,” she said.

When buying fruits, eat the more perishable fruits early in the week, and save more hearty fruit such as apples and oranges for later in the week.

Get your calcium rich protein. While the quart of nonfat yogurt may be cheaper than the singles, if you can’t eat it before it expires, you are throwing money in the garbage, and although our freezer is our friend, yogurt does not freeze well. You also may consider purchasing cheese slices from the deli instead of dairy section of the supermarket. While they may be higher in cost per pound, in the long run you will save because you can choose how much you will eat before it goes bad.

Go lean with protein is the last key message for planning a healthy plate. Protein does not always have to be meat.

“You can have eggs, beans, and nuts,” Hadley said.  “With eggs, you can throw a meal together fast. They are inexpensive, an excellent source of protein and contain a wealth of nutrients. At our house, we hard boil a few and keep in the refrigerator for breakfast, snack or to put in a tossed green salad.”

Also buy family packs of meat, poultry or fish instead of the smaller packages, wrap individual portions in freezer-safe paper, and use freezer tape to secure. Label each package with the date and contents.

For more information about cooking quick, nutritious meals, contact your county extension office or visit Please note that some links may change as we redesign our website.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

February 7, 2014

By the Cooperative Extension Service
U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Extension Communications Specialist
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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