Meal Planning for a Single Person can be simple when you learn to be
flexible and simple, using what you have first!
Meal planning for a single person can almost sound useless—or that’s what I used to think.
A couple of months ago, over on TikTok, I challenged myself to eat at home.
I was tired of chucking out food I had purchased, and then never used.
So, I took an inventory of what I had in the fridge and freezer and made a meal plan.
Well, turns out, I kind of love it.
I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that make it easier to “plan” for a single person.
Tips & Tricks for Meal Planning for the Single Person
First, know your schedule.
In order to plan your meals, you need to know what days you need to cook, what days you need to cook ahead, and what days you might end up eating out.
For me, two days a week I work a 12-hour shift, and when I come home I rarely want to cook. This means, I either prepare something I can pop into the oven when I walk in the door, or I pick something up on my way home.
I’m a much happier person if I do a small favor for myself and prepare a sheet pan meal ready for the oven! 😉
Use a sheet of paper (or the game plan you can snag below!) and write out your schedule for the week.
Do you prefer to cook breakfast for yourself? Or will yogurt and granola be fine?
What about lunchtime? Are you a leftover eater (I am not!), or do you prefer a quick salad at your desk?
For dinner, do you need quick and easy, or a couple of evenings can you really put some effort into a *nice* meal for yourself?
I don’t actually plan my breakfasts or lunches. To me, it’s not necessary, but if you feel like it would help you, go for it!
Second, once you’ve established your schedule, you can move on to the actual planning.
I wanted to call this post “Minor” Meal Planning – because frankly, I don’t follow my set meal plan very well… It’s not a major part of my life like some people make it when they have a big family. Meal Planning for the Single Person seemed slightly more appropriate since that’s what I am! 🥳
When I shop for food, I buy the same thing over and over.
Let’s chat about what I call the “Always List” — the items that are always on your list. No matter what, you’ll find these ingredients listed.
And if I don’t use them, I know most of them will keep just fine for another week, and eventually get used.
I keep running lists for the fridge and freezer on my phone, so I always know what’s the current inventory!
Here’s the typical lineup:
- Frozen Raw Shrimp
- Brussels sprouts
- Gotham Greens
- Assorted Cheeses
From this list, I have an endless amount of recipes I can make.
I keep staples like rice and frozen fresh pasta on hand, as well as pasta sauce and canned goods.
But, the list above is my typical Trader Joe’s/Fresh Market grocery list.
Want to see what a typical meal plan is?
MEAL TWO: Chicken Parmesan with Red Sauced Noodles + Caesar salad
MEAL THREE: Salmon & Broccoli Sheet Pan Supper
MEAL FOUR: Teriyaki Shrimp & Veggie Stir Fry
MEAL FIVE: Maple Roasted Chicken & Brussels sprouts
When you go into meal planning with flexibility as your middle name, you’ll be winning every time.
Most of these meal ideas are totally interchangeable.
If I want Crispy Crackle Chicken with roasted maple Brussels, I’ll make it.
When I have leftover salmon and broccoli, I’ll use those for the stir fry, and save the shrimp for later use.
The more you can mix and match the less restricting meal planning seems.
You might also notice it’s a fairly balanced meal plan.
Each meal sort of follows this system:
Protein + Vegetable + (Carb)
I don’t have carbs at every meal – since my taste buds changed so much from early 2021, I’ve found I don’t love carbs as much. Fresh veggies taste the best, so that’s really what I use as the bulk of my meals.
I make sure to wash and chop up as much as I can before storing.
That way, it’s easy to make a meal without a plan!
Plus, I find I snack on carrot sticks and cucumbers with ranch most days.
The more prep you can do for yourself, the better! It’s a cheeky time-smart hack your future self will LOVE.
I’ve learned to utilize my freezer really well.
I have a small, “normal” fridge/freezer combo. On my phone, I keep a running list of the items I put in there. If I use them up, I’ll check the item off the list, and usually add it back to my grocery list.
My fridge is a total hot mess!
I don’t have door shelves (they were all broken when I moved in, and haven’t been replaced…), so my fridge looks PACKED FULL. I have my pickle bin, my condiment carousel, cheese drawer, veggie drawer, and miscellaneous shelf. I also have to keep the food I’m using for food blogging… THERE’S A LOT GOING ON IN THERE.
If I am following a meal plan, I’ll make up “meal kits” with all the ingredients prepped and ready, in their own container ready to go when needed.
This post contains affiliate links.
Here’s a list of items I love using for meal prepping! This post contains affiliate links.
That’s a small way I save space in my fridge. Woo hoo!
Over on social, I’ll be going over each of these items in short-form videos – hopefully giving you a better visual of how it all happens.
Quick Meal Planning for One Overview:
- Look over your schedule
- Plan your flexible meals
- Use the Protein + Veggie + (Carb) system
- Keep a running “always” list
- Utilize your phone lists and keep inventory on your fridge + freezer
- Do as much prep ahead of time for yourself as possible
So, did you learn anything?! I would love to hear in the comments below how you meal plan if you do!
This month I’ll be sharing Sheet Pan Supper meal ideas for those nights you are rushed off your feet!
Be sure to follow along on TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest! (If Facebook is your thing, I do share there too!)
Alright, y’all! Let’s get back in the kitchen!