Cooking for One: 29 Insanely Easy, Healthy Meals You Can Make In Minutes
In the kitchen, one can be the loneliest number. The fear of leftover fatigue or doing the math to modify recipes for a single serving (why do so many recipes make so much at once?) can drive anyone to order out or eat a sad bowl of cereal rather than cooking. After all, spending time making a dish that requires pans and utensils isn’t worth it when you’re dining alone, right?
We call BS. Not only can cooking for yourself provide some much-needed alone time, but a healthy, home-cooked dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) can help you feel accomplished and energized for whatever life throws your way. The best part is that cooking for one is a lot quicker than cooking for a crowd.
Not only can cooking for yourself provide some much-needed alone time, but a healthy, home-cooked meal can help you feel energized for whatever life throws your way.
We’ve gathered some of the healthiest, tastiest meals for one (or for one meal and just enough left over for lunch the next day!) from around the web to inspire you to get in the kitchen (Yes, even if you don’t think you can cook). Treat yo’ self with these easy, yummy meals—you’ll be happy you don’t have to share.
Photo: Nick / Macheesmo
1. Greens and Ham Breakfast Bowl This protein-packed breakfast bowl provides plenty of healthy nutrients in the form of fresh cooked Swiss chard. The bed of greens works as a base for ham, onions, eggs, and avocado—and a generous helping of hot sauce. Though it’s touted as a morning meal, this hearty bowl will keep you full anytime of the day.
2. Chili Cheese Omelets Who says omelets need to be complicated? This filling, classic egg-and-cheese version gets added flavor from the addition of fresh coriander and spring onions. Don’t have coriander? Try subbing fresh basil instead.
3. Avo and Egg Breakfast Pizza Pizza for breakfast? Dreams do come true! But this isn’t a traditional pizza. Pita bread acts as the crust while mashed avocado serves as the “sauce” (and a dose of healthy fats). The pizza’s also full of protein and omega-3s, thanks to the egg topping. Add prosciutto or bacon if you want a meatier, even more filling meal.
4. Peach Crisp Smoothie Peaches are an underrated fruit when it comes to smoothies—berries seem to get all the love. But that’s about to change with this recipe. A frozen peach (use fresh if you’ve got ‘em!) gets blended with heart-healthy walnuts, oats, and banana for a frozen breakfast with a ton of staying power.
5. Single-Serving Frittata This protein-packed frittata makes for a healthy breakfast (or lunch, or dinner). Using zucchinis and shallots makes the dish feel fancy, but it’s ready in less than 15 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper to elevate the flavor for a weekend brunch (or a busy weeknight!).
6. Sunrise Sandwich with Turkey, Cheddar, and Guacamole Skip the Egg McMuffin and eat this breakfast sandwich instead. Lean turkey replaces bacon on a whole-wheat English muffin. Tomato and good-for-you guacamole get added on to make this egg-cellent.
Photo: Haley / Cheap Recipe Blog
7. Fried Egg Sandwich This simple, effortless recipe relies on fried eggs—every budget lover’s dream—while chipotle mayonnaise (as much or as little as you want) gives it a spicy kick. Experiment with your favorite add-ins—lettuce and tomatoes would complement this well.
8. BBQ Chicken Cobb SaladMakes lunch for today and tomorrow. The original cobb salad gets a healthier makeover with this barbecue chicken version that’s loaded with black beans, corn, and a whole bunch of tasty veggies. A homemade buttermilk ranch dressing (which takes no time at all to whip up) pushes this salad to a new, delicious dimension. Just go easy on the dressing if you’re counting calories.
9. Avocado Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed DressingMakes lunch for today and (maybe) tomorrow. This is the perfect salad for when you’re in the mood for something light and sweet, but still filling. Antioxidant-rich strawberries, gorgonzola, and healthy-fat-filled avocado are tossed with superfood spinach and a super-simple homemade dressing starring poppyseeds gets drizzled on. Deliciousness ensues.
10. Simple Garlic Butter Mushroom and Provolone MeltsMakes lunch for today and tomorrow. If you’ve never been a mushroom fan, this cheesy melt might change your mind. Sauteed in garlic, butter (or a dash of olive oil) and wine, the shrooms get piled high onto grilled whole-wheat bread and topped with gooey Provolone cheese. It turns out that happiness has arrived—and at just a smidge over 400 calories.
Photo: Georgia Johnson / The Comfort of Cooking
11. Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers These peppers are chock-full of southwest-style ingredients: corn, salsa, black beans, and cilantro all make appearances. Though overall cooking time is a bit longer than the other recipes, the active prep time is minimal—and the end result is worth it. Skip the cheese if you’re not into dairy.
12. Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp Is it us, or do stuffed foods just taste better? Take this stuffed avocado, for instance, which is packed with garlicky shrimp. This recipe takes just a few simple ingredients—avocado, garlic, shrimp, heart-healthy olive oil, and seasonings—and turns them into a filling meal. Add a hardboiled egg as extra filling if you’d like.
13. Turkey Hummus Sandwiches with Black Pepper HoneyMakes lunch for today and tomorrow. Hummus isn’t just for dipping. Here, it acts as a spread for a sweet and savory grilled sandwich. Try adding in lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and your other favorite veggies for a produce-packed midday meal.
14. Homemade Single-Serve Microwave Macaroni and Cheese in a Mug You’ll never eye the blue box again. This creamy mac and cheese gets made entirely in the microwave for those nights when you need comfort food, stat. If you have macaroni, shredded cheese, and milk at home, you’re ready to make this. Whole wheat macaroni adds a healthier twist; toss in less cheese (or opt for vegan options) if you’re watching your dairy intake.
15. Fresh Burrito Bowl If eating at Chipotle is burning a hole in your wallet, it’s time to try your hand at making burrito bowls at home. By combining precooked chicken with a handful of fresh, unprocessed ingredients, a healthy, delicious Mexican-inspired meal is just 10 minutes away—and a whole lot cheaper.
16. Lamb Burger with Chunky Mint TzatzikiMakes dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow This dish is essentially a heaping bowl of the wonderful staples in Mediterranean cooking, including sundried tomatoes, olives, and artichoke hearts. All those flavors are tossed in olive oil, white wine, and garlic, then combined with your favorite (whole-wheat) pasta for a dinner that’s as easy as it is delicious. The leftovers are just as good, too!
17. Puerto Rican Fried Plantains with Rice and BeansMakes dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow. If you’re never eaten plantains before, this recipe is the perfect introduction. This banana-looking fruit gets sliced, fried (use just enough oil to submerge half of each slice), and sprinkled with sea salt. Serve with rice and black beans for a meat-free meal that’ll leave you wanting more. If frying isn’t your thing, these are just as tasty baked at 400F in the oven for about 20 minutes, with a flip halfway through.
18. Quinoa with Figs, Peppers, SquashMakes dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow. This supremely easy recipe turns a bowl of superfood quinoa into a full-fledged meal. While the quinoa cooks, red peppers and butternut squash get roasted and tossed with figs and seasonings. The result is a surprisingly tasty, healthy, and filing dish.
19. Shrimp Scampi for One Spaghetti mixed with shrimp, superfood garlic, and just a touch of butter—this recipe is already winning. But then you add in a splash of cream, white wine (optional), and red pepper flakes for some heat, and this shrimp is out of this world! While the recipe calls for fresh shrimp, make it easier (and quicker) on yourself by using tail-off frozen shrimp. Up the health factor by choosing whole-wheat spaghetti.
20. Spaghetti Carbonara for One Blame (or should we say thank?) the bacon for making this creamy pasta so darn good. Though it uses just five ingredients—spaghetti (choose whole-wheat for a healthier option), 1 garlic clove (a superfood in our book!), 1 strip of (mmm, mmm) bacon, 1 egg (another superfood!), and an optional sprinkle of parmesan cheese—cooking this carbonara will make you feel like a chef. If a fear of eating raw eggs has turned you off to carbonara in the past, don’t fret—the egg cooks right when it hits the pan.
Photo: Katie / Chocolate Covered Katie
21. 1-Minute Coffee Cake in a Mug With a name like that, you can’t go wrong. This low-calorie treat made with spelt flour, applesauce, and vanilla extract gets cooked in the microwave and topped with a mouthwatering streusel. The result is a low-calorie cake that will satisfy your sweet tooth when a late-night snack craving strikes.
22. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin How can you not love a dessert recipe that calls for just three tablespoons of flour? This dessert uses vitamin-packed pumpkin for a good-for-you muffin. Bonus: Try one of these weird but awesome pumpkin recipes to use up the rest of the canned pumpkin.
23. Single-Serving Apple Crisp Apple crisp doesn’t get any healthier—or easier. A sliced apple gets mixed with oats, cinnamon, and flour and baked in the microwave. In less than five minutes, you’ve got a perfect little crisp ready to be devoured.
24. Single-Serving Deep Dish Cookie We’ve all been faced with this problem: you want to bake yourself cookies, but just a few. Do you go to the effort, have one or two, and then give away the fruits of your hard labor, or do you try resisting an entire pan of homemade chocolate-y goodness? Finally, a solution! Baking one deep-dish cookie eliminates all those tempting leftovers—and it’s made in a ramekin which, let’s face it, is adorable.
25. Strawberry Protein Pancakes with Yogurt Filling Are these a dessert or a breakfast? All we know is they’re delicious. A pancake batter made of oats, Greek yogurt, and egg whites gets whipped together in a blender and then cooked in minutes. Stuffed with yogurt and jam, these make an awesome French-inspired dessert.
SO EASY THEY DON’T NEED A REAL RECIPE
Need some more inspiration? Try some of the “recipe-free” meals that Greatist team members enjoy whipping up when they’re all alone and hunger strikes.
26. Healthier Taco Salad Chop and sauté half an onion and half a bell pepper. When they start to brown, add in ground turkey, beef, tofu, or veggie crumbles till cooked, sprinkling in taco seasoning. Combine meat, onions, and peppers with your favorite greens (spinach works nicely). Add in sliced avocado, black beans, corn, and (if you’re in the mood for some crunch) broken tortilla chips. Drizzle ranch dressing on top.
27. Tomato, Basil, Mozz Sandwiches Drizzle olive oil on two slices of ciabatta bread or any crusty type of bread. Top with fresh sliced mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil; add in your favorite Italian meat, like prosciutto or salami, and sprinkle black pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper on top. Put the two halves together and cook in a pan over medium heat, flattening with a spatula, until cheese is totally melted.
28. Asian Shrimp Stirfry Sauté leftover vegetables like chopped mushrooms, onions, peppers, carrots, and celery in sesame oil. When they’ve softened, add in shrimp and stir fry sauce. Cook until shrimp are pink (about 3-4 minutes). Add in a beaten egg for the last minute; stir to scramble. Serve over rice.
29. Balsamic Pasta Saute shrimp in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Add cooked angel hair pasta and toss with more balsamic, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Add thinly sliced mozzarella cheese and inhale.
What are your go-to recipes for one? Share in the comments below or get in touch with us onFacebook!