Written By: Brooke Bianchini

It can be easy to cook too much food when you are only feeding one or two people. Sometimes we are stuck in the routine of cooking for a large family that it can be difficult to scale back recipes. It can be hard to cut a recipe down because of the amount of the ingredients that it calls for. Other times we may have difficulty knowing the right portions for only a couple people. Whatever the problem may be, the end result is leftover food.

Try these tips to avoid wasting leftover food:

1. Choose frozen vegetables over canned. Frozen vegetables can have less sodium that canned produce. They can also be easier to use in smaller servings; frozen produce can be thawed as needed, where a can of produce has to then be stored once opened.

2. Buy only what you need. Some items may be cheaper at the store if you buy in bulk, but only purchase in bulk if it can be stored or used.

3. Freeze left over vegetables. For example, having fresh peppers and onions in a dish adds great flavor but may be difficult if you only need a small amount in a recipe. Chop the entire vegetable and freeze the portion you are not immediately using. Next time you need peppers or onions for a recipe, all you need to do is measure out the amount from the freezer.

4. Make a large recipe and then package the leftovers in individual servings. You can freeze these meals for nutritious, homemade TV dinners or quick lunches when you don’t feel like cooking.

5. Share meals with a friend. If you can’t make less of a recipe, simply make the regular amount and share with a friend. Your friend can do the same and this means home cooked meals with less time spent in the kitchen.

6. Share groceries with a friend. It can be hard sometimes to find a small head of cabbage or lettuce. Instead of omitting these from your meals, split hefty food items in half and share them.

7. Plan for leftovers. There is no need to not eat roasted chicken simply because you can’t eat a whole chicken yourself. By planning ahead, you can use the same ingredients in multiple meals throughout in the week. For example, leftover roasted chicken could also be used to make chicken salad sandwiches, chicken tacos, chicken chili, or chicken and vegetable soup later.

8. Keep bread products in the freezer. You may not be able to use a whole loaf of bread before it spoils. Storing bread products in the freezer can extend the shelf life, and individual servings can be removed and thawed as needed.

9. Purchase fruit in varying stages of ripeness. Buy a variety that are ripe (ready to eat), medium (will be ripe in a couple days) and that are green (will take several days to ripen). This allows fruit to be available each day without the chance of it spoiling before it gets eaten.

When cooking for one or two, it can be difficult to incorporate variety into your diet while avoiding food waste. Utilizing the freezer, sharing groceries and larger food items with friends or family, and using an ingredient once in bulk and using it for multiple recipes throughout the week are all ways that we can avoid waste will still having variety in our meals throughout the week. Cooking for one or two may be a pretty big adjustment at first, but it is definitely possible!