Cooking for One

The Best Thing to Meal Prep When You’re Cooking for One

published Mar 6, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Because of my husband’s schedule, I often find myself cooking for one during the week. On those solo nights, I’m always, always glad that I’ve done some meal prep on the weekend. It feels like a little gift, knowing that I’m halfway through preparing dinner before I even open the fridge. (It also means I have no excuse to just order takeout!) And, of all the things I’ve tried making ahead of time, there’s one that ends up being the most useful, the most versatile, and the easiest to leave out of my dinner menu, if I don’t prepare it ahead of time.

Credit: Jeff Roffman

Pre-Washed Greens Are the Best Gift You Can Give Yourself When Cooking for One

Did you think I was going to say chicken? Or maybe a giant tray of veggies? When you’re cooking for yourself, I’ll argue there’s something a whole lot simpler: washing your greens.

I tend to buy heads of lettuce rather than the boxed or bagged, pre-washed stuff because it’s far more cost-effective (and it also tastes better). I also love to pick up a big bunch of kale or spinach to add to meals. When I bring greens home, the first thing I do is wash them. I like to soak them in cold water, then dry and store them in my salad spinner. Once they’re clean and dry, I tuck them away in the fridge to grab and reach for all week long. (I’ve found greens will keep for up to ten days in my salad spinner.)

Pre-washing my greens makes it easy to toss together a quick side salad or throw greens into my sandwiches or wilt into soups. Since greens are usually the first thing from the grocery store to go bad, having ready-to-go lettuce and greens on hand gives me fewer excuses to use them up and also means I get greens in almost every meal.

Credit: Jenny Huang

By the way, the same rule goes for herbs. If you pick up a bunch of parsley or cilantro, take a couple of minutes to wash and dry the bunch before storing in the fridge. That way they’re within easy reach to sprinkle on the rest of your dinners or add to your salads through the week. This means you’ll have fresher, tastier solo meals and less food waste.

5 Easy Recipes to Make With Your Greens & Herbs

What’s your favorite thing to meal prep when cooking for one?