While most of us know that cooking our own food is generally healthier and cheaper than buying ready meals or takeaways, if you live alone, it can sometimes be difficult to find the motivation to cook. But, aside from being aware of exactly what you’re putting into your body and saving money while you’re at it, there are many benefits of cooking for one.

You can eat what you like, when you like, prepare and cook meals faster than if you’re cooking for multiple people, and there’s usually far less waste and clean-up. Plus, cooking for yourself is an expression of self-love; an empowering gesture that can improve your mood as well as your health.

So, if you’re in need of some inspiration to get you into the kitchen, here are 10 easy dinner ideas for one.

1. Prawn and coconut laksa

prawn and coconut laska

Laksa is a spicy coconut noodle soup that comes from Malaysia – and though its flavours might be complex, making it for one person doesn’t have to be.

Healthy, wholesome, and incredibly comforting, this is an ideal meal to make on a rainy day, or when you’re feeling a little under the weather. Not only will the fragrances of lemongrass, ginger, and garlic lift your spirits, but these ingredients are also great for boosting your immune system – as is the fresh lime juice you squeeze in.

This prawn and coconut laksa from BBC Good Food is fresh, delicious, and has the perfect blend of flavours, and textures. Plus, it only takes 10 minutes to prepare and eight minutes to cook. If you’re veggie, simply swap the prawns for tofu, seitan, or a mock-meat product. Or, if you’re vegan, switch the egg noodles for rice noodles.

2. Creamy lentils and rice

creamy lentils and rice

Lentils sometimes get a bad rap; many of us know that they’re healthy but find them dull and uninspiring. But if you’re cooking for one and find the right recipe, lentils are the perfect go-to and can be really tasty.

They’re cheap, filling, and very versatile – and if you use tinned lentils, or buy them pre-cooked, they’re quick to whip up. Plus, they’re also an excellent source of protein, fibreB vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

If you’re cooking lentils for one, this creamy lentil and rice dish from BBC Food will hopefully hit the spot – and it takes less than half an hour to knock together. The recipe uses ghee (clarified butter that’s often used in Indian cooking), but you can also use regular butter – or even margarine.

If you have any extra lentils left over, why not make this lentil salad with beetroot and goats’ cheese, which is another recipe that’s perfect for one?

3. One-pan Spanish garlic pasta with vegetables

One-pan Spanish garlic pasta with vegetables

Pasta is the ideal go-to meal when you’re hungry and don’t have many ingredients in the house. And if you’re feeling a little lazy, a one-pan pasta dish is even better.

Not only is it quick to prepare, but it also means there’s hardly any washing up to tackle after. Plus, when you cook the pasta along with the rest of your ingredients, the starch from the pasta gives the dish a wonderful texture and flavour.

This one-pan Spanish garlic pasta and vegetable dish from Spain on a Fork is ideal for a quick weeknight dinner. It’s easily customisable too, and while the recipe uses peppers, courgettes, onions, and a tin of chopped tomatoes, you can use any ingredients you have in the fridge.

The recipe serves two people, so there’ll be plenty leftover to enjoy the next day. Or, you can just halve the ingredients if you don’t want leftovers.

To see how quick and easy this delicious recipe is to make, have a watch of the video below.

4. Japanese-style omelette (okonomiyaki)

Japanese-style omelette (okonomiyaki)

Unless you’re vegan, there’s a good chance you’ll have some eggs in the house. So if you get home from work feeling hungry and tired, yet have no idea what to cook, why not put those eggs to good use and make a dinner that’s totally different from usual?

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese omelette that’s moist like a pancake and packed with flavour; a moreish mix of sweet, smokey, and tangy. It’s also very versatile and you can add in any ingredients you have that need using up.

This okonomiyaki recipe from Delicious uses cauliflower, spring onions, and pak choi to bulk up the omelette, and soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and chillies add rich, savoury flavours. What’s handy about this recipe is that it uses ingredients that many of us might already have in the cupboard.

If you have any meat or seafood that needs eating, you can add this in too, or keep things veggie and add some more vegetables. If you don’t have cauliflower or pak choi, you can always add spinach or peppers.

To find out more about cooking okonomiyaki, watch the video below.

5. Fish in a bag

Fish in a bag

If you’re in the mood for fish, why not try making Jamie Oliver’s fish-in-a-bag recipe?

Cooking fish in an aluminium foil ‘bag’ allows it to steam in its own juices, which helps retain important nutrients. The fish is protected from the heat of the oven, so you don’t need to add oil, which also makes it healthier.

Plus, the foil bag keeps the flavours wonderfully intense – and because you’re cooking everything in one parcel, there’s no washing up either.

Jamie’s recipe uses white fish fillet – like sea bass, haddock, or halibut – and adds potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and black olives. But there are dozens of this type of recipe that are perfect for one person.

You might want to try this couscous fish-in-a-bag recipe from BBC Good Food, which uses haddock, couscous, courgettes, and pine nuts. Alternatively, take a look at this salmon recipe from Nourish, which can be ready in 25 minutes.

6. Bánh mì

banh mi

If you’re tired after a long day and don’t fancy cooking on a hot stove, it can be tempting to just make yourself a sandwich for dinner. But if you’re going to do this, why not make it a bánh mì?

The late Anthony Bourdain called the bánh mì (or Vietnamese baguette) “a symphony in a sandwich” – and that’s no exaggeration. The bánh mì is the perfect marriage of tastes and textures: crusty, chewy bread, salty vegetables, crunchy cucumber, fresh herbs, and a sweet, spicy sauce.

This bánh mì recipe from Delicious uses leftover beef, fresh carrot, cucumber, onion, and a sauce made from mayonnaise, hoisin, and sweet chilli. Though, the beauty of the bánh mì is that they can be adapted for every taste preference and diet.

If you don’t eat meat, simply swap the beef for some crispy marinated tofu. This recipe from Eating Well only requires 15 minutes of prep.

7. Leek and sage risotto with bacon

Leek and sage risotto with bacon

Making risotto is often seen as a bit of a labour of love; the act of repeatedly feeding the risotto with stock and stirring can seem fussy and time-consuming. So, it’s often thought of as something you wouldn’t bother making for just one person.

But if you love eating risotto, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be a laborious process. You can make and cook yourself a delicious risotto from scratch in under half an hour.

This leek and sage risotto with crispy bacon from BBC Good Food takes only 10 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook – and with only eight simple ingredients, it’s certainly not fussy either.

To make this recipe veggie, simply omit the bacon and add two or three large, grilled mushrooms. Or, to use entirely plant-based ingredients, swap the parmesan for a vegan alternative or leave it out altogether.

Quick, easy, and delicious, this risotto makes a perfect comforting weeknight supper.

8. Chicken stir-fry

chicken stir fry

Stir-fries are super quick to prepare, and they’re also incredibly easy to adapt to your own taste preferences or tweak to use ingredients that you already have.

This chicken basil stir-fry from Delicious is tasty, fast, and easy – and healthier and cheaper than picking up a takeaway.

An even simpler version of a chicken stir-fry recipe can be found on the BBC website. Just remember to slice your chicken thinly to make sure it cooks evenly and quickly.

If you don’t eat meat, simply swap the chicken for tofu or your choice of plant protein. For more quick chicken stir-fry inspiration, have a watch of the video below.

9. Special fried rice

Special fried rice

Fried rice is known for being a quick and easy comfort food, but it’s also the perfect meal for one – especially if you haven’t got much food in the house or you’re not in the mood to cook anything complicated.

Making fried rice is also a great way to use up leftover food – whether that’s the leftover rice from your Indian takeaway, or any leftover meat or vegetables that are in the fridge. If you have eggs that need eating, you can throw them in too.

You might want to make BBC chef James Martin’s special fried rice for one, which uses chicken, ham, peas, eggs, and spring onions. It only takes around 15 minutes and creates very little washing up.

Or you can keep things veggie by making this easy fried rice recipe from One Dish Kitchen, which uses whatever veg you have in the freezer.

10. Berry cobbler

berry cobbler

For some reason, dessert is often viewed as something that should be shared. But if you live alone, why should you need to wait for company to justify a pudding? And, the good news is that there are plenty of desserts that are ideal for one.

This five-minute microwave berry cobbler from Domestic Fits is delicious, yet incredibly simple to make – and, as the name suggests, it’s ready in minutes. To make things even easier, you can use frozen berries instead of fresh ones and, if you prefer, you can swap strawberries for raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries.

Not really a cobbler person? Just head over to Brit + Co to check out 16 other ideas for indulgent single-serving desserts: from crème brûlée to peanut butter cookies, there are plenty of options for those evenings when you’re craving something sweet.

If you’re a bit of a chocoholic, why not try Rest Less member Mandy’s 5-minute chocolate mug cake recipe?

Final thoughts...

As you can see from these 10 tasty suggestions, there are plenty of recipes out there which are perfect for cooking a delicious and nutritious meal for one.

For more cooking inspiration, why not head over to the food and drink section of our website? Here, you’ll find a range of articles – from 20 healthy 30-minute meals to 8 recipe ideas from around the world.

Or, why not see what upcoming food and drink demonstrations and cook-alongs are running on Rest Less Events?

Do you have any favourite recipes that you enjoy cooking for yourself? Or do you think you might try any of our suggestions? We’d love to hear about your favourite meals for one in the comments below!