How to Prepare Dinner for One

Making dinner for one can be a challenging experience when many recipes make enough food for multiple diners. Because of this, many would-be chefs opt to eat already prepared foods rather than tailor recipes to accommodate a single eater, inadvertently taking in unnecessary calories and unhealthy additives. There are multiple benefits in learning how to prepare dinner for one, including being able to experiment freely with no one to judge, having the chance to eat healthier than most fast food options, and not being pressured to revolve around anyone else's schedule. By learning a few tips, you can tailor any recipe to suit your needs and enjoy all of the same recipes and flavors you might have thought were "too much for one."


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    Search for recipe ideas for one. You can find many great dinners that have already been modified for a single diner on the Internet or in modern recipe books. These will help you to create entrees with very few leftovers.
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    Fill your cupboards or pantry with items such as pasta and rice. These ingredients can be added into an endless array of recipes, and 1 box or bag can last you several nights.
    • If you aren't following a recipe, start with 1 cup (240 ml) of product, and then figure out if you will eat more or less for the next time you cook. Seal the remainder of pasta or rice in a storage container, and save it for another night.
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    Cut your favorite recipes in half or in quarters. Most recipes indicate how many servings they will make, and you can easily cut the portion of ingredients to tailor it to make dinner for yourself. Better yet, consider making enough for 2, and save the leftovers for another dinner.
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    Place leftovers in storage containers with lids, and label them with the date they were created. You can use a piece of masking tape and a permanent pen for this purpose. Labeling and dating your leftovers will help you remember what is the oldest and needs to be eaten first or disposed of.
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    Purchase individual casserole dishes. Separate a full recipe, such as lasagna or a casserole that is meant for at least 4 people, into 4 smaller portions. Freeze 3 portions before cooking, and label them with the date and time. Heat and serve the other dish.
    • Because the dishes are frozen before cooking, this option has the added benefit of setting up a dinner for another time, which can be as long as 6 months away.
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    Buy individual portions instead of a bag. For example, purchase only 1 or 2 potatoes instead of a bag, or only 1 bun from the deli instead of an already packaged quantity.
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    Ask the butcher or fishmonger at your local grocery store to half the portions before you purchase them. Most are happy to help, and it will save you money and wasted product if you aren't interested in leftovers.


  • One of the greatest benefits of cooking for 1 is the ability to try crazy ideas. Don't be afraid to throw whatever into a pot and cook it. If you think it will taste good, try it. You have no one to please but yourself, and it's great you have a new dish you can serve to others. This art of experimenting is how many great chefs come up with signature dishes, and the payoff can be amazing.
  • Go for comfort food. If your idea of a great dinner is a banana marshmallow peanut butter sandwich, no one is watching you so you can go ahead and eat it. Think outside the confines of the label "dinner," and eat whatever makes you happy, whether it's a traditional dinner fare or not.

Things You'll Need

  • Recipes for 1
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Storage containers with lids
  • Masking tape
  • Pen
  • Individual casserole dishes

Article Info

Categories: Meal Planning