How to cook for one

How to Meal Plan for One: Nourish Your Body & Soul

If you’re a party of one, meal planning might seem like a chore. You may often wonder: How do I avoid repetitive meals? How can I enjoy variety without breaking the bank or wasting food? Don’t worry! With the right strategy, meal planning for singles can be a delightful, healthful, and cost-effective experience. So, are you ready to embark on this culinary journey?

The Organic Way: Understanding Your Ingredients

Organic isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a lifestyle. Consuming organic ingredients ensures you’re absorbing pure, chemical-free nutrients.

Benefits of Going Organic:

  • Healthier Body: Opting for organic food significantly reduces exposure to harmful pesticides and chemicals. It’s a direct route to giving the body the best of what nature offers.
  • Richer Taste: Organic produce often brings out authentic flavors, making every bite a delightful experience. It’s a culinary journey to the essence of the ingredient itself.
  • Environment-Friendly: Choosing organic not only nourishes the body but also nurtures the environment. It promotes practices that lean heavily on sustainability and eco-friendliness.

Importance of Fresh and Locally Sourced Produce:

  • Boosts Local Economy: Prioritizing local produce directly supports and strengthens the local farming community. It’s a gesture that uplifts and empowers neighborhood farmers.
  • Freshness Guaranteed: The beauty of local sourcing is the minimized time from harvest to table. This ensures the produce retains its nutrients and freshness.
  • Lower Carbon Footprint: Local sourcing dramatically cuts down on transportation needs. This means a significant reduction in emissions and a happier, healthier planet.

Each choice, from organic to local, is a step towards a healthier self and a happier planet. As consumers continue to make these conscious decisions, the ripple effect extends to communities and ecosystems alike.

Picking out fruits from a local farmers market

Crafting a Balanced Meal: The Core Principles

Balance is not just for yogis; your plate craves it too!

Embracing Fish in Your Diet:

The Omega-3 Powerhouses: Fatty fish, especially varieties like salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are renowned for their potential benefits to heart health and brain function.

  • Nutrient-packed: Among the seafood group, fish stands out for its health benefits. Fatty fish, in particular, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for supporting cardiovascular health and cognitive functions. Even fish with lower fat content, like cod or tilapia, remain a valuable dietary choice because they offer a substantial protein source.
  • Versatility: From a perfectly seared salmon fillet to a tuna salad or grilled mackerel, the culinary opportunities with fish are vast. And with each method of preparation, you’re not only ensuring a delightful taste but also preserving the essential nutrients.

Snacking on Nuts:

Nuts can be more than just a snack; they’re nature’s nutrient capsules. Rich in healthy fats, protein, and fiber, they’re the perfect snack to curb those midday hunger pangs. Whether it’s heart-healthy almonds, antioxidant-rich walnuts, or omega-3-packed macadamia nuts and pistachios, incorporating a handful of mixed nuts into your daily diet can offer a myriad of health benefits. Plus, they’re easy to pack, making them the perfect on-the-go snack! 

Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3s, but it’s essential to note that your body can’t effectively absorb the whole seeds. Therefore, when incorporating flaxseeds into your diet, opt for flaxseed meal, which is ground. Wondering how to include flaxseed meal into your diet? We crafted a supercharged smoothie just for that! 

The Lean Meat and Vegetable Focus:

Lean Proteins: Think chicken breasts, lean turkey, and lean meat.

  • Poultry: Chicken Breasts and LeanTurkey: These are among the leanest meats available. They’re low in saturated fats but high in essential nutrients and proteins our body requires. By incorporating them into your meals, you not only ensure you’re meeting your daily protein requirements but also consume quality, easily digestible protein that contributes to muscle growth and repair.
  • Pork: When choosing pork, go for lean cuts like pork loin, tenderloin, and center loin. 
  • Legumes/Beans: This category encompasses all beans, lentils, chickpeas, and split peas. They are plant-based powerhouses that offer a rich dose of protein, making them perfect for vegetarians and vegans. They’re also filled with fiber, keeping you full and aiding in digestion.
  • Tofu: Derived from soybeans, tofu is another excellent plant-based protein source. It’s versatile, absorbs flavors brilliantly, and can be incorporated into a multitude of dishes.
  • Pasture-Raised Eggs: Often referred to as ‘nature’s multivitamin’, eggs are incredibly nutrient-dense. The protein in eggs is of high quality and contains all 9 essential amino acids in just one egg. 
  • Lean Red Meat: While red meat can be rich in saturated fats, choosing lean cuts ensures you get the protein benefit without the excess fat. They’re also a great source of essential nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins. If you want to enjoy beef, you should opt for cuts that are 90% lean or higher, like:
    • Top sirloin steak
    • Eye of round roast and steak
    • Sirloin tip-side steak
    • Top round roast
    • Lean ground beef

Veggies Galore: Make your plate look like a rainbow!

When it comes to vegetables, variety is the key. Spinach, for instance, is a powerhouse of iron, calcium, and magnesium. Broccoli, on the other hand, is rich in vitamin C, K, and fiber. Bell peppers add a burst of color to your plate and are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. A diverse veggie plate ensures you get a spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients essential for optimal health.

Limited Carbs: Opt for whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. Carbohydrates are essential for energy, but the source matters. Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, and multi-grain bread are packed with fiber and essential nutrients. They release energy slowly, preventing sugar spikes and crashes, keeping you fuller for longer, and aiding in digestion. You can even make cauliflower as a rice substitute. Here’s how. 

Limiting Refined Carbohydrates and Added Sugars:

Watch out for white bread, pastries, and sugary sodas. They might tantalize the taste buds but aren’t the best pals for your waistline or health.

The modern diet is laden with hidden sugars and refined carbs, especially in processed foods. White bread, though fluffy and soft, lacks the essential fibers and nutrients found in whole grain or whole wheat bread. Pastries, though irresistibly tasty, are often loaded with added sugars and unhealthy fats. Sugary sodas? They’re the culprits behind sudden energy crashes post-lunch. Not only do these refined carbs and sugars contribute to weight gain, but they also have other detrimental effects on health, from promoting inflammation to increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods in your diet ensures you’re fueling your body with the best.

If you love potatoes as much as I do, try to swap them for sweet potatoes and yams. Opt for smaller potatoes as they contain fewer carbohydrates. Consume potatoes with their skin intact, as they offer fiber and various nutrients. Combine potatoes with protein and beneficial fats to moderate the carb absorption rate.

Day 5 Dinner: Vegetable Stir Fry with Tofu

Making It Work: Meal Planning at Home

Alright, let’s dive deep! Seven days, seven opportunities to nourish and delight!

The 7-day Breakdown for Singles:

Day 1

Breakfast: Berries & Greek Yogurt

  • ½ cup mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries)
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (tip: look at the ingredient list- it should ONLY have peanuts as the ingredient. 
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt or low-sugar coconut yogurt
  • In a bowl, add yogurt, mixed berries, peanut butter, and flaxseed meal

Lunch: Avocado Chicken Salad

  • 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced – Cook both chicken breasts & store the other chicken breast in an airtight container. Use for Day 2 Lunch
  • 1 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (½ lime)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 slices of whole-grain bread 
  • Mix chicken, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Spread on bread.

Dinner: Salmon with Quinoa and Steamed Broccoli

  • 1 salmon fillet – Cook the entire salmon fillet but only use half. Store the other half properly for the next day.
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked- Cook a full cup of quinoa and use half. Store the half in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup broccoli, steamed – Steam enough broccoli for two meals. Learn how to get the most out of your broccoli here!
  • ​​Pan-sear salmon in olive oil, 4 minutes on each side. Serve with quinoa and broccoli.

Day 2

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Banana Toast

  • 1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 banana, sliced 
  • Spread peanut butter on toast, and top with banana slices.

Lunch: Chicken Quinoa Salad

  • Use the remaining cooked chicken breast, sliced.
  • Mix with the remaining quinoa from Day 1dinner
  • ½ cucumber, diced – Store the other half in an airtight container or ziplock in the fridge
  • A simple vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Dinner: Herb-Grilled Salmon and Broccoli

  • Use the remaining salmon and season with herbs like dill or parsley.
  • Use the rest of the steamed broccoli. You can reheat and toss with a touch of olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest.
  • ½ cup brown rice, cooked

Day 3

Breakfast: Spinach & Feta Omelette

  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • ½ cup fresh spinach.
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese or goat cheese, crumbled
  • Salt & pepper to taste 
  • Sauté spinach, and add whisked eggs and feta. Cook until set.

Lunch: Chickpea and Cucumber Salad with Avocado

  • ½ cup chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • ½ cucumber, diced (use remaining from the fridge) 
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste 
  • A simple vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper – Toss all ingredients together

Dinner: Lean Beef Stir-Fry with Bell Pepper and Zucchini

  • 1 beef top sirloin steak, sliced or 90%+ lean ground turkey
    • cook more beef or the whole package of ground turkey. Save the rest in the fridge- Used for Day 4 breakfast. 
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • ½ cup brown rice, cooked
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos 
  • Stir-fry beef and vegetables in a bit of olive oil. Add soy sauce. Serve over rice.

Day 4

Breakfast: Leftover Beef and Spinach Scramble

  • Use the leftover beef or ground turkey from Day 3’s dinner.
  • Whisk it with 2 eggs and a handful of spinach for a hearty scramble.

Lunch: Tomato Basil Soup with Whole Grain Toast

  • 1 cup low-sodium tomato soup
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
  • Heat soup, and stir in basil. Serve with toast

Dinner: Lemon Herb Chicken with Brown Rice

  • 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced – Cook both chicken breasts & store the other chicken breast in an airtight container. Use for Day 5 Lunch
  • Zest & juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (or herbs of choice)
  • ½ cup brown rice, cooked 
  • Marinate chicken in lemon zest, juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Grill until cooked through. Serve with rice.

Day 5

Breakfast: Berry & Greek Yogurt

  • ½ cup mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries)
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (tip: look at the ingredient list- it should ONLY have peanuts as the ingredient. 
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt or low-sugar coconut yogurt
  • In a bowl, add yogurt, mixed berries, peanut butter, and flaxseed meal

Lunch: Strawberry & Chicken Salad

  • Use the remaining cooked chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese or goat cheese, crumbled
  • A simple vinaigrette of balsamic, salt, and pepper – Toss all ingredients together.  

Dinner: Vegetable Stir Fry with Tofu

  • ½ package tofu, cubed – Cook the entire package of tofu and use half. Store the other half in an airtight container in the fridge.
    • Marinate the tofu in low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos, a touch of honey, and ginger. 
  • Stir fry with any remaining veggies you might have (like bell peppers, zucchini, etc.).
  • ½ cup brown rice, cooked
  • Serve over rice.

Day 6

Breakfast: Whole Grain Toast with Avocado and Poached Egg

  • 1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
  • 1 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1egg, poached or fried (use pasture-raised eggs) 
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal: sprinkled on top for added crunch

Lunch: Tofu and Vegetable Salad

  • Use the leftover tofu from the Day 5 dinner.
  • 1 cup – mix salad greens
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes and any other veggies on hand
  • 1 tbsp – Use a simple vinaigrette from olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Dinner: Grilled Shrimp with Garlic Lemon Zucchini Noodles

  • 6-8 medium-sized shrimp, deveined and tail-off
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of half lemon, juice of 1/4 lemon
    • Marinate shrimp in garlic, lemon zest, and a touch of olive oil, then grill.
  • 1 package of spiralized zucchini
    • Sauté lightly in olive oil with minced garlic. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Day 7

Breakfast: Wholesome Oatmeal Bowl

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup water or almond milk
  • 1 green banana, sliced
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt or low-sugar coconut yogurt
  • Prepare oatmeal using water or almond milk. While cooking, stir in slices of a green banana which will add natural sweetness without too much sugar.
  • Once cooked, stir in a spoonful of flaxseed meal for an omega-3 boost.
  • Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt for creaminess and a protein punch.

Lunch: Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip with Whole Grain Crackers

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil 
  • 1 pinch of dried herbs: A pinch (dill or mint)
  • ½ cucumber, sliced
  • ½ bell pepper
  • Whole Grain Crackers: 5-6
  • Mix Greek yogurt with a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and dried herbs like dill or mint.
  • Serve with sliced cucumber, bell peppers, and whole-grain crackers on the side.

Dinner: Grilled Lean Steak with Herb Butter and Steamed Veggies

  • 1 lean steak (sirloin or tenderloin)
  • 1 tsp fresh herbs, finely chopped (like parsley or chives)
  • ½ garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, florets
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, sliced
  • Season a lean steak cut like sirloin or tenderloin with salt and pepper. Grill to preferred doneness.
  • Mix softened unsalted butter with freshly chopped herbs (like parsley or chives) and a touch of minced garlic. Top the hot steak with a small dollop of this herb butter to melt over.
  • Serve with steamed veggies like broccoli and carrots drizzled with a bit of olive oil.
Day 7 Breakfast: Wholesome Oatmeal Bowl

Shopping List for the 7-Day Meal Plan for One

📌 Pin this shopping list for later!

Proteins:

  • Chicken breasts: 4
  • Salmon fillets: 2
  • Beef top sirloin steak or 90%+ lean ground turkey: 1 package
  • Tofu: 1 package
  • Shrimp (medium-sized, deveined, tail-off)
  • Lean steak (sirloin or tenderloin): 1
  • Eggs: 6

Dairy & Alternatives:

  • Greek yogurt or low-sugar coconut yogurt: 4 cups
  • Feta or goat cheese crumbles
  • Unsalted butter: 1 small pack

Grains & Legumes:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Rolled Oats

Fruits & Vegetables:

  • Mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries): 
  • Avocados: 3
  • Limes: 2
  • Lemon: 4
  • Broccoli: 2 florets 
  • Banana: 3
  • Cucumber: 1
  • Bell peppers (various colors): 3
  • Spinach: 1 
  • Zucchini: 2 (1 for spiraling)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cilantro: 1 small bunch 

Condiments & Others:

  • Flaxseed meal
  • Peanut butter (the only ingredient should be peanuts)
  • Olive oil: 1 bottle
  • Fresh basil: 1 small bunch
  • Tomato Soup (low-sodium)
  • Fresh rosemary (or herbs of choice): 1 small bunch
  • Whole grain crackers: 1 pack
  • Low sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos: 1 bottle
  • Honey: 1 small bottle
  • Ginger: 1 small root

Seasonings & Spices:

  • Salt: 1 pack
  • Black pepper: 1 pack
  • Dried herbs (dill, mint, parsley, chives): 1 small pack
  • Garlic cloves: 1 bulb

Others:

  • Almond milk or water for oatmeal

Make sure to adjust the list based on your pantry stock and personal preferences. With this list in hand, your grocery shopping should be a breeze!

Local food market

Embracing Varieties: From Chicken and salmon to Shrimp

Diversity in your diet not only offers a myriad of flavors and textures but also ensures you’re getting a wide array of nutrients. When focusing on proteins like chicken, salmon, and shrimp, it’s essential to jazz things up a bit to keep your taste buds intrigued and your meals refreshing.

Experiment with Different Marinades

  • Citrus Infusion: Use lemon, lime, or orange zest and juice as a base. These flavors beautifully complement all three proteins. Add some garlic, a touch of olive oil, and herbs like rosemary or thyme for a zesty punch. Perfect for grilling!
  • Asian Inspired: Combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a touch of honey. This marinade works wonders, especially with salmon and shrimp. Just ensure you don’t marinate the seafood too long; 20-30 minutes should do the trick!
  • Herb Delight: A mixture of chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, cilantro, and dill, combined with olive oil, minced garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. Ideal for chicken or salmon.

Introduce a New Vegetable Each Week

Changing up your veggie game not only offers variety but also introduces different vitamins and minerals to your plate.

  • Week 2 – Bok Choy: This leafy green is delicious when sautéed with garlic and a dash of soy sauce. It pairs perfectly with the Asian-inspired marinade for salmon.
  • Week 3 – Butternut Squash: Try roasting cubes of this sweet vegetable with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of rosemary. It complements grilled chicken beautifully.
  • Week 4 – Brussels Sprouts: These can be halved and pan-fried with some bacon bits or roasted with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They’re a delectable match for any protein, especially shrimp. Learn more about the benefits of Brussels Sprouts and how to cook them here.
  • Week 5 – Beetroot: Roasted beet slices or beetroot salad with some feta cheese can add a vibrant touch to your plate. They taste especially great with herb-marinated salmon.

Introducing variety ensures that your meals remain exciting and nutritionally balanced. As they say, variety is the spice of life, and in this case, the spice of a wholesome meal plan!

Fresh hand-picked vegetables in a basket

On the Go: Meal Planning While Traveling

Hitting the road or catching a flight? Your dedication to a nutritious meal plan shouldn’t take a backseat. Whether you’re headed on a business trip or embarking on a vacation, there are always ways to stick to your wholesome diet. With a bit of preparation and some savvy on-the-spot choices, you can maintain your health momentum no matter where your travels take you.

Packing and Prepping: 

When you’re in control of what you bring along, you have the power to ensure nutritious choices are always at arm’s reach.

  • Portable Snacks: Equip your travel bag with nuts like almonds or walnuts that provide a quick protein and healthy fat boost. Seeds like chia or pumpkin seeds are also a compact source of nutrients. Fruits, particularly those that don’t squish easily like apples or pears, can satisfy a sweet craving while supplying essential vitamins.
  • Stay Hydrated: It’s easy to overlook, but hydration is crucial, especially during travel. A reusable water bottle can be filled up at many public places, ensuring you always have water on hand. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly choice!
  • Prepare in Advance: If you’re on a longer trip, consider packing a couple of sandwiches or salads. Whole grain wraps with lean meats, veggies, and a sprinkle of cheese or hummus make for a satisfying meal that doesn’t require refrigeration for a few hours.

Finding Fresh, Organic Meals Abroad: 

Exploring a new destination is thrilling, but it also means navigating unknown food terrains. Here’s how you can stick to your dietary goals without compromising on the travel experience.

  • Research Ahead: A bit of online sleuthing can lead you to restaurants or cafes that emphasize organic, fresh, and locally sourced ingredients. Websites and apps like TripAdvisor or Yelp often have user reviews that can give insight into the quality and sourcing of ingredients.
  • Food Markets: One of the joys of travel is diving into the local culture, and there’s no better way than visiting a local food market or farmer’s market. It’s a chance to see where locals get their produce, and often, you’ll find the freshest fruits, vegetables, and other staples available. Plus, these markets can be a gastronomic adventure on their own!
  • Ask Locals: Locals often know the best spots that aren’t necessarily on the top of the tourist radar. Strike up a conversation and ask for recommendations for places that serve fresh and organic meals.
Local farmers market

Remember, travel offers a unique opportunity to not only explore different cultures but also different cuisines. Embrace the local food, but make informed choices to ensure you’re fueling your body with the best possible ingredients. Safe travels and bon appétit!

Streamlining Your Grocery Shopping Process

Make shopping efficient, not tedious.

The Role of Platforms like Instacart:

  • Hassle-free shopping: No more queues!
  • Delivered to your doorstep: Freshness guaranteed.

Curating Efficient Grocery Lists:

  • Group items by category: Produce, dairy, meat, seafood.
  • Use apps: Digital lists can be easily updated and shared.

Conclusion: Embrace the Meal Planning Revolution

Being solo shouldn’t equate to random or unfulfilling meals. With a hint of planning and a sprinkle of creativity, your meal times can be healthful, delectable, and oh-so-satisfying! So, why wait? Dive into the world of meal planning and let your culinary journey begin! 

If you used this 7-day meal plan or if you have any questions, shoot us a comment below. Happy cooking, friends!

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