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Cooking for One or Two
Basics of Cooking Lesson Series
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When it's just you or the two of you, cooking for a few people presents a special challenge. How do you eat a varied, healthy diet without having tons of leftovers or having to throw away food? These tips and recipes will help you cook for two and keep a lid on your food expenses while eating healthy, delicious food.

It's just been the two of us, my husband and me, for our whole married life. What has worked well for us is to make a large casserole but divide it into two smaller baking pans. Bake one right away and wrap and freeze the other (well labeled, of course). That way you still have leftovers for lunch, and an easy dinner another day. Think about cooking once and eating twice whenever you are in the kitchen. You may just be able to take a week off of cooking if you are really efficient!

I also just make main dish salads in the summer and we just eat them until they are gone. I try to use lots of fruits and vegetables in them so the salads really are a one dish meal. Vary dinners by serving different kinds of whole wheat bread, or additional vegetables or fruits with the same salad.

Think about serving more unusual foods for some meals. For instance, I have found that Chicken Melon Salad makes a fabulous breakfast. Serve breakfast items like scrambled eggs or omelets for lunch or dinner. You'll have fewer leftovers and more interesting meal choices. When you're cooking for two you can experiment more, so have fun!


One of the best parts about cooking for two is choosing expensive, exotic ingredients. A romantic dinner for two is fun to plan and execute. I selected the recipes for this menu that are easy to prepare, have balanced color, texture, temperature and flavor, and store or freeze well if you happen to have leftovers.

The Menu for Two

  • Champagne, wine, or sparkling cider
  • Almost Instant Fondue
  • Fresh Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
  • Crusty Mini-Loaves
  • Grilled Steak or Salmon with Herb Butter (cut recipe in half)
  • Cashew Truffles

Bake a Cake for Two

Unless you buy cake mixes for one, you're probably going to have too much left over. Use this formula to make two cakes out of one two layer mix.

1-3/4 cups cake mix from two layer box
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 egg

Combine ingredients in an ungreased 8 or 9" square pan and beat with fork until well blended. Spread batter evenly in the pan when mixed. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Banana Cake

1-3/4 cups cake mix from two layer box
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup mashed banana
2 Tbsp. oil
1 egg

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour into greased 8" square pan and bake 350 degrees 30-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Peg Bracken's The Compleat I Hate To Cook Book is a great source for recipes for one or two. She says to try to balance out your nutrition over a few days, rather than making completely balanced meals three times a day. If you rely heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are perishable and should be consumed quickly anyway, you'll be eating a healthy diet.

Peg Bracken's Prime Rib For One

Purchase 1 rib of beef, which should weight about 2-1/2 pounds. It must be frozen before cooking, so plan ahead! Take the rib out of the freezer, unwrap it and rub with garlic and then a tablespoon of olive oil. Place the rib on a baking pan with two potatoes holding it upright. Roast at 400 degrees for 85 minutes for rare, 95 minutes for medium well. Make sure to let the rib stand for 5 minutes before slicing to let the juices redistribute.

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