Cooking For One

Living off campus in college brings many firsts in students’ lives. To name a few, you’re probably living by yourself for the first time, without your parents to grocery shop or cook for you. At the time you might be thinking, “What do I even buy to cook?” or “How do I even cook?” I’ve gathered up from my experience of living off campus and cooking for one for the past two years some tips that can help this transition go more smoothly. Here are three tips for cooking for one:

  • When it comes to buying vegetables think about what you’re going to use.

Variety is key when eating vegetables to give your body the variety of nutrients it needs (1). Although, while purchasing vegetables it’s important to consider if you’re going to use the vegetables you’re buying before they spoil. I’ve realized not to buy more than 4-5 different types of vegetables at a time. Switch up what kinds of vegetables you buy each grocery shopping trip. For instance; one trip you purchase broccoli, mixed greens, sweet potatoes, yellow onion, and zucchini, then the next trip you purchase spinach, carrots, squash, yellow onion, and cauliflower.

  • Always keep whole grains in your pantry.

Rice, pasta, bread, or oatmeal are good staples for your pantry when cooking for one. For breakfast it’s easy to cook oatmeal and top with fruit or toast bread and top with avocado, egg, peanut butter, or even jelly. For lunch it’s easy to make any type of sandwich. You can incorporate rice into any lunch or dinner meal, and it is easy to make in bulk then save the leftovers in the fridge. Mixing rice with sautéed vegetables is my favorite easy dinner meal for one. Pasta is another good ingredient that makes an easy dinner meal. Cook a serving of pasta and top with sautéed vegetables and olive oil which can be done in about 15 minutes. Don’t be afraid to play with spices while cooking with pasta or rice. Spices can really help add flavor and you never know what can turn out till you try!

  • Save leftover foods in your fridge or freezer.

It’s easy to end up having leftovers when you’re making a meal for one. Leftovers can be put in the fridge to have the next couple of days. This helps to reduce food waste and save you time and money. If you have a feeling you aren’t going to eat the leftovers in a week, save them in the freezer. Leftovers in the freezer can usually last an average of 1-2 months (2). Here’s a link to guide you how long you can freeze or store foods,

Have fun with your cooking and don’t be afraid to experiment! It’s fun to get creative with your meals while cooking for one. Since you’re cooking for yourself, only you can be the judge of the crazy things you come up with. Good luck in this journey, and I hope you have as much fun as I do when it comes to cooking for one!


  1. Foote, Janet A., Murphy, Suzanne P., et al. 2004. Dietary Variety Increases the Probability of Nutrient Adequacy among Adults. The Journal of Nutrition. vol. 134 no. 7. 1779-1785. Retrieved from
  2. Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer. 26 July 2016. Retrieved from


Article written by Ashton Julian, Wellness Intern at Chartwells Dining