All the single ladies, all the single ladies.
"Eating healthy is so hard when you are only cooking for one!"
We hear this all the time. Eating healthy can be hard when you are living on your own. You start with the best intentions, but when Friday rolls around and you still have a gallon of that salad you made Monday sitting in the fridge, well, you probably aren't too excited to eat that again. Groceries add up fast and throwing out food is a real bummer. We get it. But before you reach for that phone to order Chinese takeout, hear this: eating healthy when you are cooking for one is challenging but totally doable and will ultimately help you look and feel your best.
We've turned to some expert members who are living on their own and making That Clean Life work for them. We've compressed their advice into 10 practical tips:
1. "Plan meals two weeks at a time, so you are eating recipes over two weeks instead of eating the same thing every day"
When we think of meal planning, we often get tunnel vision and plan for a week at a time. Make a rough plan for two weeks and freeze some of the stuff you make this week and eat it later next week. This way, you are less likely to waste food and get stuck eating the same thing every day. "You want me to grocery shop for two weeks at a time?" you ask. Nope! Read more about strategic grocery shopping in #6.
If you are a member of That Clean Life, we reccommend naming your meal plans accordingly (for example, use week #1 and week #2) so you know they go together, like this:
2. "Be besties with your freezer."
Okay, so maybe not besties, but you know what we mean.
Try to freeze your leftovers while they are still fresh to preserve flavour and nutrients. (Side note: Freezing food does not cause nutrient loss.) Keep your freezer organized with stackable glass containers so you always know what you have on hand.
Think ahead. Freeze leftover vegetables and fruit if you can foresee that you won't be able to eat them before they go bad. This will save you a ton of money in the long run.
And don't throw away those herbs! One of our members let us in on her secret for making one purchase of herbs go a long way:
"Chop up your leftover herbs, and use a tablespoon to measure out even portions into an ice cube tray and add 1 to 2 tbsp of water or olive oil. Transfer them to a ziploc bag once they're frozen. Herb cubes are great for soups and pestos!"
Photo via TheKitchn.com
3. "Always keep at least one type of burger and single servings of soup in the freezer"
If you are a member of That Clean Life, you know we are huge fans of soups and burgers. They are super easy to make in advance and freeze beautifully. We highly reccommend these Kale Quinoa Fritters.
Freeze soup in individual portions (we reccommend 500 mL mason jars) as it melts quicker and you will only thaw what you need. When using mason jars to freeze things like soup or juice, be sure to leave room at the top for the liquid to expand. Otherwise, your jar will shatter and a'int no one got time for that. If you forget to thaw your soup in advance, simply boil a pot of water and set your mason jar in. Let it melt to the point where you can dump it into a pot to reheat.
4. "Frozen fruit is the best thing ever"
It's true for several reasons. First off, fresh berries can be silly expensive. You get more bang for your buck with frozen berries and don't have to worry about them growing gross mold within a couple days (I'll rage on this another day). Frozen berries always seem to have more flavour in the off season and they are a great staple for breakfasts and smoothies. Frozen grapes and sweet cherries also make a terrific snack for those times you are craving something sweet.
Tip: With berry season coming up, buy and freeze your local berries to keep summer going all year long.
Don't forget those bananas that are starting to brown. Slice em' up, throw em'in a ziplock bag and freeze those babies. They will come in handy down the road when you are making breakfasts and snacks like our Blueberry Banana Bread.
5. "Be smart with grocery shopping. Buy smaller portions and only what you need!"
Meal planning is the best way to save money with grocery shopping. When you have a plan, you are only buying what you need instead of going into the store blindly throwing any thing and every thing into your cart. Meal planning saves you time and money.
When shopping, buy smaller portions. For example, if you are buying salsa, get the smallest jar possible so nothing goes to waste.
If you are meal planning for two weeks at a time, do a bigger grocery shop the first week, and the second week just fill in the gaps with things like fruits and vegetables that need to be purchased fresh.
6. "Try to prepare whatever you can ahead of time"
If you have a minute, take a look at your meal plan and consider what you can put together in advance. For example, if you are having a stir fry for dinner, you can chop up all the veg in advance so all you have to do is stir fry it later.
7. "Recruit friends who also value healthy eating"
True story: Two of our That Clean Life members are neighbours and take turns making meals and sharing them. Two of our members who work together also take turns making and packing each other's healthy lunches. There are so many benefits of doing it this way: it cuts the cooking in half, keeps meals exciting and builds relationships. Winning all around!
9. "Don't be afraid to cut a recipe in half"
If a recipe makes 6 servings and that is way too much for you, cut all the ingredients in half. (Disclaimer: this doesn't always work out, but when it does, it is pretty awesome.)
So what if a recipe calls for one pepper and you only use half? Slice up the other half, throw it in a baggie and pack a side of hummus for a snack tomorrow. Waste not, want not!
10. "Organization is key!"
Last but not least, keep everything in your pantry, fridge and freezer organized. Who needs to drop another $10 on a bag of almond flour when you have half a bag left burried somewhere in your pantry? Not this girl. We reccommend using glass containers like mason jars and stackable tupperware like Pyrex. Storing things in glass jars not only helps you stay organized but also preserves the freshness of your food.
How do you stay motivated to eat healthy when cooking for one? Leave us a comment below!