Tasty Meals When Cooking for One

elderly woman slicing up a bell pepper in the kitchen

Enjoying home cooked meals is a healthy option. However, you may find it hard to cook small meals to serve one person. This is especially true if you used to cook for a family or if you have never prepared meals in the past.

This article will help you make creative meals for one. Here are some useful tips to inspire your meals.

What do I need to know before I start cooking?

  • It helps to follow a recipe. Pick one that uses foods and ingredients you already enjoy.
  • You can find healthy recipes here or in healthy eating magazines, cookbooks or websites.   
  • Most recipes will make four or six servings. It’s a good idea to make recipes with extra portions so you can enjoy the leftovers.
  • You can freeze leftovers for those days when you don’t want to cook. Meals that freeze well include meatloaf, lasagna, soup and casseroles.
  • Label your frozen meals with the name of the food and the date it was made. Most meals last for two to three months in the freezer. 

What are some easy meal ideas when cooking for one? 


Start the day right with an energizing, simple meal such as:

  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana
  • Oatmeal or cold cereal with milk and berries
  • Scrambled eggs and slices of tomatoes on a whole grain bagel

Lunch and dinner

Salad: Some meals require very little cooking. Try salads! They can be so much more than a mix of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Salads can be a complete meal when they include a source of protein from beans, tofu, chicken, meat or cheese. Start with these recipes: Black Bean Couscous Salad or Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Salad.

Soup: Soup is easy to prepare and there are endless varieties. Since soup freezes well, one pot can result in many meals. As an appetizer, prepare a soup that’s loaded with vegetables, such as Ontario Winter Vegetable Soup or Curried Cream of Parsnip and Carrot Soup.

If soup is your main meal try filling soups like Chicken and Corn Chowder or Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup.

Main courses:

Stews and casseroles freeze well. Try Spicy Chicken and Squash Stew. Sandwiches are an easy meal too. Layer your favourite fixings on whole grain bread, or try Mango chicken wraps

Remember that you can enjoy any food at any time of day. If you feel like eggs or cereal for dinner, go ahead and enjoy! If you need to plan meals around a fixed budget, here are 10 tips to get you started.

Which ready-to-eat foods should I have?

On some nights you may not feel like cooking. You should have some quick options in your kitchen. Healthy eating starts with having healthy foods in your home.

Since some packaged foods are high in added sugars and salt, read food labels before you buy. Watch this video for helpful advice.

Eating alone

Eating alone may be difficult. There are ways to keep it joyful and pleasant. Start by choosing a nice place to eat. Set a table with flowers, a place mat and a napkin. You may enjoy listening to music or sitting near a window with a nice view. 

Studies show that you eat more nutrients when dining with company. Try to be social for some of your meals. Share a potluck dinner with a friend or form a lunch group. Dine in a restaurant once in a while. Check your local senior centres; many serve weekly meals. 

Bottom line

Cooking does not need to be difficult to be delicious. Start with recipes you enjoy and try to keep healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods in the house. That way, there will always be nutritious foods on hand to inspire your cooking. 


Last Update – May 16, 2022

Phone Icon

Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice. Want to unlock the potential of food? Connect with a dietitian.