Cooking for one is a challenge for many people who live alone or enjoy a solo meal often. Creating a single serving may seem wasteful, especially if there are leftovers and unused ingredients. One of the best ways to prepare easy meals for one person is to focus on simplicity, taste, and convenience. The following recipes are ideal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or as a quick snack in between meals.
1. Breakfast Toast with Avocado, Egg, and Tomato
If you’re in a hurry most mornings, this easy dish doesn’t take much time to prepare. You’ll likely find all these ingredients in your refrigerator, which makes it quick and effortless to put together this delicious toasted breakfast sandwich.
- One medium avocado, ripe for slicing or mashing
- Large egg
- One or two slices of whole-grain bread
- A medium tomato, or two to three cherry tomatoes, sliced
- Butter or margarine
- Black pepper (optional)
- Olive oil (for frying)
In a small or medium frying pan, add a bit of olive oil (or another cooking oil) to heat on medium-high, then add in one egg and cook over-easy. Add one or two slices of toast to the toaster, then butter both sides once they are ready. Peel and core the avocado and mash it with a fork in a small bowl. Spread on one side of toast, then add the sliced tomatoes, and top with the egg. Sprinkle it with black pepper and serve.
Note: You can add the second slice of toast on top, or you can enjoy it as an open-faced sandwich.
2. Cauliflower Fried Rice for One
If you’re looking for a light lunch that’s easy to create at home and reheat at work, this microwaveable cauliflower fried rice is the perfect option. It’s a quick and simple dish that combines fresh or frozen vegetables, seasoning, and shredded cauliflower for a tasty dish in your mug.
- Half a cup of fresh or frozen vegetables (mixed peas, corn, carrots)
- One cup of shredded cauliflower or frozen cauliflower rice
- A dash of salt
- One large egg
- Half a tablespoon of sliced or crushed onions
- Approximately one and a half teaspoons of sesame oil
- One large microwavable cup or bowl
- For extra spice, combine seasoning with salt and sesame oil (optional), such as soy sauce and chili oil or sriracha sauce
Add the cauliflower rice and the frozen vegetables into the large mug and cook on high power in the microwave for one minute. At this stage, the vegetables will be partially defrosted if they are frozen (or slightly cooked if fresh).
Sprinkle in the salt with any seasoning you prefer, then stir in with the sesame oil. Cook for another minute on high heat in the microwave. The vegetables should be a bit hot, though they should be well done and ready to enjoy. You may need to stir them slightly to mix the flavors, then enjoy.
Shakshuka is an excellent one-skillet dish to make with a cast iron pan and a handful of delicious, healthy ingredients. This single-serve dish is easy to enjoy right from the pan and blends the aroma and flavors of tomatoes, eggs, fresh greens, red pepper flakes, garlic, and onions. It’s a quick breakfast or brunch dish that only takes a few minutes.
- Two eggs
- Olive oil for cooking
- Half a cup of chopped kale or spinach
- One medium or large tomato, sliced
- A dash of salt
- Crushed or dried garlic (half a teaspoon)
- Onion powder (half a teaspoon)
- Red pepper flakes to taste
Prepare the cast iron skillet with olive oil and heat on medium for approximately three minutes. Toss in the garlic, onion, salt, and sliced tomatoes. Saute briefly, then add in the kale and cook for another two or three minutes, then gently separate the contents of the pan to create a space to crack open the eggs.
Continue to cook the skillet on medium-low and cover. Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and, if desired, black pepper.
4. Stir Fry with Pork
Stir fry dishes make an ideal serving for one. This recipe features ground pork with seasoning, with rice and vegetables, to create a delicious meal. You’ll find this skillet meal easy to put together in less than half an hour.
One of the main advantages of this dish is the flexible options you have with ingredients. You can combine your favorite spice and seasoning blend for soy sauce, ginger, garlic, olive oil, onion powder, black pepper, and apple cider vinegar.
- Ground pork (about four ounces)
- A quarter cup of diced onions
- Olive oil for cooking
- Dash of salt
- One small carrot, diced
- Sliced mushrooms, a quarter cup
- One cup of raw, sliced spinach
- A pinch of ground ginger (about one-eighth of a teaspoon)
- One crushed clove of garlic
- Half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
- One cup of cooked rice
- One tablespoon of soy sauce
Ingredients for cooked rice:
- Three-quarter cup of water
- Dash of salt
- A quarter tablespoon of butter
- A quarter cup of uncooked rice
To prepare the rice, add all the ingredients to a baking dish. Place in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the rice fully absorbs the water. Set this dish aside or keep it warm in the oven while preparing the pork.
Using a small or medium skillet, heat with the olive oil on medium heat. Add in the ground pork with salt, then add in the seasoning. Cook for about four to five minutes, then remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside. In the same pan (after the pork is removed), toss in the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and saute for two minutes, then sprinkle in the ginger and garlic while stirring and cooking for another minute.
Toss in the remaining ingredients, including the soy sauce, vinegar, spinach, and pepper, and continue to saute until the spinach is soft, then serve over the cooked rice. This mouth-watering dish is perfect for lunch or dinner.
Note: For extra flavor and texture, you can top with crushed peanuts or sesame seeds.
5. Hash Brown and Egg Cups
This quick breakfast is simple to assemble and cook in the oven. You’ll need a muffin tray, eggs, russet potatoes, and cooking oil or non-stick spray. While this recipe is suitable for creating one or two dozen portions, you can reduce the number of eggs and potatoes to create just as many as you prefer for the ideal grab-and-go breakfast.
- Eight baked potatoes
- Two dozen eggs
- Cooking oil or non-stick spray
- Black pepper
To create four to six portions for one or two servings, reduce the number of potatoes to two with just four to six eggs. Spray or lightly coat the muffin tray and set it aside. Bake the potatoes (or use leftover cooked potatoes) for about one hour at 400 degrees. It’s best to prepare the russet potatoes the night before so that it takes less time to bake with the eggs in the morning.
Peel and mash or grate the potatoes, and spoon three to four tablespoons into each muffin tray hole. Gently press them down to create a well or opening in the center, then break an egg into each. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each serving and bake for up to 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve topped with shredded cheese or chives, if desired.
6. Green Blueberry Smoothie
Smoothies are a healthy and filling way to replace a meal in a hurry or when you cannot cook a meal. It’s also an excellent option for a single serving, with often a bit leftover for a second helping. This recipe combines fresh or frozen greens and berries with oats, almond butter, and a banana.
- One cup of almond milk (or another nut-based milk)
- A handful of fresh or frozen greens, which may include chopped kale or spinach
- One-eighth cup of rolled oats
- Almond butter, one tablespoon
- Half a banana
- One cup of frozen or fresh blueberries
Place all the ingredients into a blender and pulse for one minute until everything is evenly mixed. Serve in a tall glass with crushed ice.
7. Risotto with Leek, Sage, and Bacon
If you work from home or need a tasty meal for a weekend lunch, this dish is an excellent option if you have leftover bacon from the morning or replace it with sauteed mushrooms or smoked tofu.
- Two sliced leeks
- Olive oil for cooking
- Risotto rice, about half a cup
- Grated parmesan, about three tablespoons
- Two or three strips of crispy bacon
- Sage leaves, about four (dried or shredded)
- One cup of vegetable broth
- White wine, small glass
Heat a skillet with oil and add in leeks and sage to saute for two minutes, or until leeks are soft. Pour into the rice and continue cooking for one minute, then pour in the vegetable stock and wine until the contents reach a boil. Lower the heat and cover, then continue cooking until the rice is done.
If pre-cooked, you can use leftover bacon or toss raw bacon into a small skillet and fry until crispy. Serve the bowl of leek and rice with bacon and fresh, grated parmesan cheese with a dash of black pepper.
8. Loaded Baked Potato
An indulgent treat that’s excellent comfort food, you’ll enjoy this loaded baked potato as a light dinner. You can enjoy this recipe on its own or with a side of soup or chili.
- Three-quarter cup of shredded cheddar (sharp, old cheddar is recommended)
- Two or four russet potatoes
- Sour cream (a quarter cup)
- Butter at room temperature (a quarter cup)
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper
- Three to six slices of crispy bacon, chopped or crumbled
- Freshly sliced chives and green onions
In a preheated oven at 400 degrees, place potatoes wrapped in tin foil, poked with a fork inside, and bake for about one hour. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly, then unwrap and slice lengthwise. In the center, add the butter, then top with sour cream, chives, shredded cheese, and crumbled bacon. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then serve.
9. Reuben Sandwich
The classic Reuben sandwich is ideal for one person, and it’s easy to prepare on rye, topped with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. This famous sandwich was named after Arnold Reuben, who created this popular recipe in 1914.
- Two slices of rye bread
- Swiss cheese, two slices
- A quarter cup of sauerkraut
- Corned beef
- Butter softened at room temperature
Dressing for the Reuben:
- One and a half teaspoons of ketchup
- Pinch of Worcestershire sauce
- Pinch of hot sauce
- Horseradish, about half a teaspoon
- One tablespoon of mayonnaise
Assemble the sandwich with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. Combine all the dressing ingredients into a small bowl and spread evenly on each slice of bread. Place both slices together and add butter to a skillet. Then, grill the sandwich for two or three minutes on each side in a heated skillet.
10. Turkey and Spinach Wraps
This wrap is quick and easy to prepare with one tortilla, fresh spinach, and sliced turkey from your local deli. For taste, add your favorite condiments, such as hot chili sauce, pepper, mustard, mayonnaise, or ranch.
- One tortilla (small or medium)
- Sliced red pepper (small in size)
- Half a cup of fresh spinach leaves
- Cream cheese, about one tablespoon
- Two or three slices of turkey
On a medium or large plate, place the tortilla and cover with cream cheese, spreading evenly. You can heat the tortilla beforehand if desired. Top with sliced turkey, spinach, red pepper slices, and sprinkle any dressing and condiments preferred. Fold up the bottom part of the tortilla upwards, roll until the wrap is complete, then enjoy.
11. Overnight Oats with Peanut Butter
This protein-rich meal is prepared the night before and ready to enjoy for breakfast for a midday snack.
- One teaspoon of maple syrup or honey
- One tablespoon of peanut butter (almond or cashew butter is also a great option)
- Half a cup of milk
- Chia seeds, one teaspoon (optional)
- Half a cup of rolled oats
Add the oats and chia seeds in a clean mason jar, then top with milk, peanut butter, and maple syrup. Stir and refrigerate overnight and enjoy in the morning. Fresh berries or sliced fruit is a great topping option.
12. Cheese Omelet
Omelets are a popular breakfast choice, though they are also great as a midday snack or lunch. You can keep it simple with just eggs and cheese, or add your favorite ingredients, such as chives, mushrooms, ham, and onions.
- Two large eggs
- A quarter cup of shredded cheddar
- Olive oil for cooking
Whisk the eggs and shredded cheddar cheese in a medium bowl, then add any extra items, as desired. Pour into a heated skillet with olive oil, and cook on one side until firm but slightly raw. Then fold in half, or flip, and continue to cook until eggs are firm.
With some new, creative ideas, and a few extra ingredients, it’s relatively quick to create easy meals for one person at any time of the day. These dishes take little time to prepare so that you can enjoy a delicious meal without spending too much time in the kitchen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rob Jones is a father of two who lives in Massachusetts and enjoys cooking and his dog Beau. Rob has spent years studying food and its effects on the body and mind. He believes in moderation and enjoyment.