There are a lot of little adjustments that go hand-in-hand with getting older. Lately I’ve been struggling with one of those adjustments in particular – figuring out how to cook for fewer people! My youngest son is the only one of our kids still living at home, but until recently I’ve been cooking the same big-batch recipes I’ve always used. We end up with a LOT of leftovers, and sometimes we can’t use them up before they go bad. I knew I needed to down-size my cooking, but I didn’t know where to start!
To help make my cooking transition easier, I went searching for tips that would help me cook for fewer people. I hope that if you’re cooking for two, you’ll find these tips just as helpful as I have!
10 Tips and Tricks for Cooking for Two
1. Use Smaller Cookware
One way to make cooking for two easier is to use smaller cookware and bakeware! Loaf pans are great for making two-person portions of casseroles, meatloaves, and lasagnas. Mini bundt pans are great for baking cakes and other desserts. I also like to use small ceramic ramekins to make individual desserts, and mini pot pies!
2. Learn Substitutions
When you’re cooking for two, it doesn’t generally make sense to keep a bunch of different perishable ingredients on hand. But you can do more with less by getting familiar with ingredient substitutions!
For instance, you can add a little bit of lemon juice to some milk to make a buttermilk substitute, or stir some molasses into white sugar to make brown sugar! Check out more easy substitutions at the link below.
3. Use Your Freezer
Using your freezer is a great way to extend the life of perishable ingredients. You can take what you need out of the freezer when you need it, and leave the rest to use later on. You can keep bacon in the freezer by rolling up the pieces individually and storing home in a bag. Grab a few slices at a time, then let them thaw and cook as usual. Or store your sticks of butter in the freezer and pull one out as needed! Get more ideas for using your freezer below.
4. Look For Smaller Produce
Using up fresh produce before it goes bad can be tricky when you’re only cooking for two. But you can work around this problem by buying less produce in the first place! Many organic options in the produce section come in smaller amounts, or you can check out the salad bar if your grocery store has one! Buy and use frozen fruits and veggies where possible too.
5. Ask The Butcher
Take advantage of the talented butchers behind the meat counter at your local grocery store. If you’re cooking a recipe for two and only need a half-pound of beef or one chicken breast, just ask! They can give you exactly as much as you need, which will help you cut down on potential food waste.
6. Shop Bulk Bins
Shop the bulk bins for your dry goods. You’ll be able to buy exactly as much as you need! And prices for items in the bulk bins are usually lower than their packaged equivalents, so you’ll be saving money too.
7. Buy Smaller Amounts
Look for smaller sizes of packaged foods, like yogurt, applesauce, milk, etc. Buying the bigger containers may be cheaper per pound, but you’ll likely save money by reducing your food waste.
8. Long-Term Storage
When you’re cooking for two, you can still take advantage of bulk goods! Just choose ones that will keep well over a long period of time, like honey and vinegar. For more foods store well, check out my post below.
Related: 10 Foods That Will Never Expire
9. Just Concentrate!
Concentrated products can be very useful for those who are cooking for two. Things like beef bouillon or broth concentrates keep for a long time, and can be used in all sorts of different recipes.
10. Use Dried Herbs & Spices
There’s nothing wrong with relying on dried herbs and spices versus fresh ones! They keep a lot longer and it’s much less likely that they’ll get wasted. You can do a quick search online to find out how to substitute dried stuff in for the fresh version.