Living alone or with a roommate in an apartment does not have to mean pop tarts for breakfast, top ramen for lunch and mac and cheese for dinner every day. Unless you really like pop tarts, top ramen and mac and cheese, of course. Eating out can also get expensive which can be a problem on an entry level salary. It’s possible to eat right and have interesting meals on a regular basis without having to strain your brain to convert recipes and slaving away in the kitchen, only to throw away most of your work
- Costco is not your friend. Admittedly, the idea of a lifetime supply of top ramen for pennies can be appealing. But if you are trying to stay away from that particular sodium bomb, what are you left with? A two-pack of family-size jugs of peanut butter? The problem with Costco (and Sam’s Club, and any other wholesale membership club) is that you really aren’t saving that much unless you need to buy in bulk on a regular basis. It’s not a savings if the food is just going to rot in your pantry or fridge.
- Some foods are naturally a single serving. Think of a steak and a baked potato. Although you might be paying a little bit more per pound for each item to buy it individually, in the end you won’t have leftovers and you won’t be throwing food away. And you’ll still be paying considerably less than you would at a steakhouse for the same fancy meal.
- Think small. You might be craving your mother’s lasagna. Unfortunately, her recipe is designed to serve 16. But the internet is an absolute storehouse of recipes, many of which are already perfect for a single person. Doing a quick search for “lasagna for one” turns up a good number of recipes already perfectly proportioned for a single serving, and there are websites out there devoted to single cooks. Choose a few good ones and collect some great recipes.
- Think about your ingredients. Steer clear of recipes that call for ingredients you are only going to use once. It’s great to have a well-stocked spice cabinet, but how often are you really going to use that $20 bottle of saffron? While you are at it, consider any limitations of your kitchen. A hot plate isn't usually conducive to cooking a gourmet meal.
- Buy what you need. A great option for picking up small quantities of ingredients is to check out the bulk bins at your local grocery store. You can buy exactly how much you need and pay a per-pound or per-ounce price. If you want to make a hamburger, why buy a full pound of ground beef? Go straight to the meat department counter and ask for a quarter-pound (or half-pound if you are really hungry!) and the butcher can wrap up exactly the amount you need. You can get a roll or a bun directly from the bakery. Change the way you think about shopping.
Living on your own after graduation can be both exciting and scary. Hopefully cooking for yourself won't feel like a daunting task!