Cooking from scratch can be fun, inspiring, and relaxing. Though, if you live alone, it can sometimes feel like a lot of work.

When you’re busy or tired, it can be tempting to rely on takeaways, microwave meals, or quick snacks, but there are countless benefits to cooking for yourself. For example, it can be cheaper, healthier, and help you become more mindful of what you’re putting into your body.

If you sometimes struggle to motivate yourself to cook from scratch, the good news is there are lots of things you can do to make the process quicker and easier, without compromising on taste!

Here are 12 tips to make cooking nutritious and delicious meals for one easier and more enjoyable.

1. Plan meals in advance

Planning your meals in advance makes it much easier to cook from scratch. You don’t have to plan every single meal ahead of time, but having a list of four or so meals you want to make that week can take some of the work out of your shopping trips. Plus, it means you’re less likely to overspend or impulse buy.

Another perk of meal planning is that you can think of different recipes that’ll use up any ingredients you have at home – saving you money and avoiding food waste. For example, if you’re planning on making butternut squash soup one day, you can roast any leftover squash the next day and use it in tacos.

Plan meals in advance

2. Keep your cupboards well-stocked

Store cupboard items can last for years, so if you can, it’s a good idea to stock your cupboards with cooking staples.

Having pasta, rice, quinoa, and flour at home means you’ll always have the basics of a meal to hand. And, tinned food like beans, tomatoes, lentils, tuna, and sweetcorn, will add extra nutrients and taste to any meal!

Similarly, having a few pantry ingredients that add flavour and taste can be helpful – things like olive oil, chilli flakes, garlic powder, ginger purée, and other seasonings, spices, and sauces. Buying a few specialty oils (like truffle, chilli, or garlic oil), can also elevate dishes quickly, and turn a simple pasta dinner into something seriously satisfying.

3. Stock up on frozen food

We all know how important it is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, but the problem with buying fresh produce is that it can sometimes spoil before you have time to cook it. This can be especially true if you’re cooking for one and don’t tend to get through the whole packet on your own.

So why not buy frozen fruit and veg instead? You can use what you need and pop the rest back in the freezer without worrying about waste. Frozen veg can be boiled, steamed, or added to recipes – and frozen fruits work really well in smoothies.

Even stocking up on things like frozen pizza can be helpful for those nights when you’re too tired to cook a full meal. Simply put your pizza in the oven and prepare a quick salad while it’s cooking. This is typically much cheaper (and usually healthier) than ordering a takeaway pizza!

Stock up on frozen food

4. Batch cook

If you’re often busy and tired during the week, batch cooking your meals ahead of time can be incredibly useful.

Making a big batch of warming, restorative food is a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon and will also mean you have plenty of delicious, healthy meals to eat throughout the week. If you don’t fancy eating the same food for days on end, you can simply freeze half for another time.

Plus, there are many batch-cooking recipes you can tweak and adapt throughout the week to provide plenty of variety.

For example, you could cook a big ratatouille and then eat it with some crusty bread, use it as a pasta sauce, add it to a frittata or quiche, or serve it with a fresh, crunchy salad throughout the week.

For more batch cooking inspiration, you might like to have a read of our articles; 8 batch cooking recipes that will last all week and 15 freezable recipes that make for easy meals later.

5. Shop at the deli counter

If you’re buying meat, fish, or cheese in the supermarket, head to the deli counter rather than buying the pre-packaged stuff. Not only is the produce at the deli counter almost always fresher and tastier (and usually uses less plastic packaging), but it also means you can buy the exact amount you need.

There’s no point buying a pack of three chicken breasts, or a big tub of fresh prawns if you know you won’t have time to eat it all before it goes bad. Plus, buying single servings will save you money and reduce food waste too.

Shop at the deli counter

6. Try a meal kit delivery service

Meal kit subscription boxes are more popular than ever, and if you live alone, it’s definitely worth doing a trial to see if it’s for you.

Subscribing to a meal delivery service gives you the chance to try new and interesting recipes each week. Plus, because you’re provided with the exact amount of ingredients you need for each meal, there’s never any food waste. You also won’t need to worry about having things like fresh herbs in the house, as everything you need for the meal comes in the box.

With some meal kit delivery services, you can specifically choose meals for one, though you might want to cook meals for two – that way, you’ll have leftovers you can eat the next day.

There are dozens of excellent delivery services to choose from, and while prices and menus vary, they all make cooking much quicker and easier. You can cook a delicious, fresh meal without having to go to the shops, plan in advance, or worry about having too much extra food.

To find out more, why not read our article; 8 quick and easy recipe boxes delivered straight to your door?

7. Invest in a slow cooker

Slow cookers are one the best culinary inventions around, particularly if you live alone and find it hard to motivate yourself in the kitchen!

They use far less energy than ovens – which will save you money – and work really well with simple ingredients. Plus, you’ll be greeted by the mouth-watering, comforting aromas of freshly cooked food.

You can simply pop your ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning, and by the time you come home, you’ll have a hearty, warming meal ready and waiting for you – as well as a home that’s full of the mouth-watering, comforting aromas of freshly cooked food.

You can buy small slow cookers which make meals for one, or larger ones that you can use to batch cook meals to eat throughout the week.

To compare slow cookers and explore recipes, you might be interested in our articles; 12 best slow cookers for low-cost meals 2024 and 10 of the best slow cooker recipes to save you time and money.

Invest in a slow cooker

8. Familiarise yourself with easy or no-cook recipes

If you’re just cooking for yourself, you don’t need to go all out. There are many recipes that take minutes to prepare yet are delicious and nourishing – things like omelettes, quesadillas, wraps, and salads. Plus, these recipes are really adaptable, so making them can help you use up any ingredients you have that need eating.

Try to make sure you always have some leafy greens in the fridge, cans of beans or sweetcorn in the cupboard, and some delicious dips or sauces to jazz your meals up. Microwaveable packs of grains (whether flavoured rice or quinoa) are a real game-changer too.

9. Prioritise your protein

Whether you’re an omnivore, pescetarian, vegetarian, or vegan, a great way to make cooking easier throughout the week is to cook your main source of protein at the weekend. You can then use it in different meals each day. For example, you could roast a chicken on a Sunday and use the leftover meat to create quick dishes throughout the week.

If you’re veggie or vegan, you could marinate and bake a big batch of tofu and eat it throughout the week in stir-fries, curries, or noodle soups. Or, cook up some pulses like lentils or beans and add different flavours, spices, and ingredients to them each day. One day, you could have a bean stew; the next day, a chilli; the day after that, a casserole; and so on.

For more inspiration, check out our article; 12 high-protein meal ideas.

Prioritise your protein

10. Invest in decent plates and storage containers

A well-known saying among chefs is “You eat with your eyes first”. In other words, when food looks good, it’s more appetising, and making a meal that looks beautiful can feel like an achievement – inspiring you to get even more creative.

So, why not invest in some new plates to get your meals looking more stylish? You don’t need to spend a lot; you can find some great options at antique markets and in charity shops.

Similarly, it’s a good idea to invest in some decent storage containers so that leftover food is stored hygienically and looks more inviting. Glass containers are a good buy as they can be easily transferred from the fridge to the freezer to the microwave, and they’re also nice enough to eat out of – which will save on the washing up!

11. Look for shortcuts

If it’s meal prepping rather than cooking that often puts you off, try to think about ways you can make shortcuts. For example, you can buy pre-chopped and washed vegetables, which will save you time and mean you don’t have as much to clean up afterwards.

Similarly, certain foods (like potatoes) take a long time to cook, which isn’t ideal on busy weeknights when you just want to relax. So, pre-cooking veggies like potatoes or Brussels sprouts until they’re soft really reduces cooking time. Then you can just sauté or roast them until the outside is nice and crispy.


12. Look for inspiration

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to cook if you have no idea what you want to eat. So, when you next have some free time, you could create a list of all the dishes you enjoy and use that to inform your meal planning.

Finding inspiration can involve leafing through cookbooks, skimming Instagram for meals that stand out, or watching YouTube cooking tutorials. There are also plenty of recipe ideas and inspiration on the food and drink section of our website.

Another way to stay motivated and inspired is to share your culinary creations. If you’ve made a great-looking, great-tasting dish, why not show others? You could post it on social media or simply share the photo with loved ones.

You never know who you might inspire by sharing your cooking achievements. And, in return, your friends and family might send you some photos of their meals!

Final thoughts…

Cooking for one can sometimes seem like a hassle, especially if it’s been a long day or you’re pushed for time. Yet, as we hope this article has shown, there are many ways to make the process quick, easy, and enjoyable.

From spending an hour at the weekend cooking a big batch of food to making sure your cupboards are stocked with staples, there are lots of small things you can do to help make cooking for yourself far more enjoyable. And the good news is that most of the steps above may end up saving you money too.

Even on those days when you just want to flop on the sofa and order a takeaway, there are still ways you can rustle up a meal in minutes, whether it’s a substantial salad or a quick-yet-tasty wrap.

There’s nothing wrong with the odd takeaway, of course, but cooking for yourself makes a lot of sense. It can benefit your bank balance and your health – and, as an added bonus, it’s a fun outlet for creativity too!

For more cooking ideas and inspiration, check out our article; 10 easy dinner ideas for one. Or, head over to Rest Less Events to see what cooking demonstrations we have coming up.

Do you find it hard to motivate yourself to cook for one, or do you enjoy cooking for yourself? Maybe you have some more cooking tips you’d like to share with our readers? We’d love to hear about your culinary adventures in the comments below.