My Strategy for Cooking Pasta for One to Two People

updated May 1, 2019
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Pasta is often thought of as an easy dinner for four or more people. But it’s a little annoying for just one or two, since most recipes make a large amount and it’s a bit of pain to pull out just enough spaghetti for one person from the box.

“Make the whole recipe and have leftovers!” the crowd says. Well as much as my husband and I love pasta, we don’t actually want to eat what’s left of it for the whole rest of the week.

Here’s my strategy: It’s dead simple and makes pretty much all pasta recipes out there, that serve four to six, yours for the taking.

How to Cook Pasta for Just One or Two People

There was a time in my life when I tried very hard to take just a quarter or a sixth of dry spaghetti out of it’s box in order to cook up just the perfect portion for one. I’ll be the first to admit that was silly. Now it goes like this, regardless of the recipe or if I am cooking for two or just myself: Cut the recipe in half and cook half the box of pasta. Most recipes call for one pound of pasta — which is a standard box or bag — to serve four to six people. It’s far easier to eyeball this than fuss over specific measurements.

I find that half the box, or a half-pound (eight ounces) of pasta, serves two to three people, depending on sauce and hunger level. If it’s a simple cacio e pepe and my husband and I are pretty hungry, we’ll easily polish it off. If there are lots of veggies added to the pasta or it’s tossed in a hearty meat sauce, they’ll be leftovers for one of us to enjoy for lunch the next day or reheat for dinner another night during the week if we’re left to our own devices.

The same quantity works great for just one person, too. You’ll have enough leftover for another dinner or a couple of lunches rather than struggling to eat an entire pound of pasta before it’s time to toss it.

How do you make pasta for one without having a week of leftovers?

5 Pasta Recipes That Are Easy to Halve