Perfect for empty nesters or millennials starting out on their own. Saving time while cooking for two when you’re used to cooking for an army doesn’t have to be hard!
This post could also alternatively be titled ‘How to Save Time Cooking for Two When You’re Used to Cooking for a Family’ or ‘How Do I Stop Making an Entire Tray of Lasagna For Just the Two of Us?’
If you haven’t noticed, I love to cook. And bake. And mix foods together and call them something new. It’s in my blood. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and would frequently make dinners for my parents and sisters when I used to live at home.
Now that the boyfriend and I are living together, it’s become a little difficult for me to scale down my usual cooking to feed just the two of us. Nobody tells you that the entire box of pasta is simply too much for two people, even if you have leftovers for the next three days. (P.S. how many days will you have something leftover before you throw it away?)
So here’s the thing. I’m really bad at making small amounts of things. Hard-wired into my brain is something that says “YES. Make the whole box of lasagna noodles, use the whole container of ricotta and sauce, and goodness, that’ll surely be enough mozzarella.” Then I remember it’s just the two of us who usually eat what I cook - and he doesn’t even like marinara sauce. Cue sad face. I also hate seeing food go to waste, especially when it’s something so tasty!
So what’s a gal to do when she only knows how to cook for a family of 6+?
By cooking less food at once, or freezing more often.
So smart! So here’s what I do:
- Cook our favorite foods (ones that freeze well) in large batches like I usually would and freeze what I know I won’t be able to eat as leftovers or pawn off on some unsuspecting soul. This includes:
- Foods that I know won’t freeze well or would prefer not to have leftover (I’m looking at you, mac and cheese…) get made in smaller batches. Instead of making a trough sized amount of macaroni and cheese, we buy the smaller boxes. If I’m not sure we’ll like a particular new recipe and see that it serves 4+, I’ll deliberately half the recipe to see if we like it. If it’s a winner, we add it to the rotation and I’ll make it again in a quantity that’ll work for us. I also don’t bother freezing foods that I know will get eaten within 2-3 days because they are so tasty.
- Steer clear of large casserole dishes and opt for an 8x8. Cutting the needed ingredients in half for many larger batch dishes will usually do the trick and you won’t have 18 servings of leftovers staring you in the face. You’re welcome 🙂
- Although I don’t have a “meal-prep” day, per say, I do tend to find myself batch cooking things all at once. Like if I’m making waffles and realize I want to have breakfast burritos for later on in the week, I add that to my list of stuff to do. I sometimes have a rough time staying focused in the kitchen. Ah, well.
What’s your best tip for someone who’s used to cooking for a family but doesn’t have to anymore?