In the kitchen, one can be the loneliest number. The fear of leftover fatigue or doing the math to modify recipes for a single serving (why do so many recipes make so much at once?) can drive anyone to order out or eat a sad bowl of cereal rather than cooking. After all, spending time making a dish that requires pans and utensils isn’t worth it when you’re dining alone, right?
We call BS. Not only can cooking healthy recipes for yourself provide some much-needed alone time, but a healthy, home-cooked dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) can help you feel accomplished and energized for whatever life throws your way. The best part is that cooking for one is a lot quicker than cooking for a crowd.
We’ve gathered some of the healthiest, tastiest meals for one (or for one meal and just enough left over for lunch the next day) from around the web to inspire you to get in the kitchen (Yes, even if you don’t think you can cook). Treat yo’ self with these easy, yummy meals—you’ll be happy you don’t have to share.
2. Mushroom and Herb Omelet
Who says omelets need to be complicated? This fancy-looking recipe just takes eggs, mushrooms, sour cream, and some of your favorite herbs. Herbs are easy to add, but make all the difference in taste.
Pizza for breakfast? Dreams do come true! But this isn’t a traditional pizza. Caluliflower acts as the crust (but you can sub in a tortilla or pizza dough if you want!) while mashed avocado serves as the “sauce” (and a dose of healthy fats). The pizza’s also full of protein and omega-3s, thanks to the egg topping. Add prosciutto or bacon if you want a meatier, even more filling meal.
These mini frittatas make for a healthy breakfast (or lunch, or dinner). Using zucchinis and peppers makes the dish feel fancy, but it’s ready in about 15 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper to elevate the flavor for a weekend brunch (or a busy weeknight!).
Skip the Egg McMuffin and eat this breakfast sandwich instead. Low sodium bacon and fresh greens make this one a healthy treat. You can always sub the bagel for an English Muffin or piece of toast. Add some tomato and good-for-you guacamole to make this even more egg-cellent.
This simple, effortless recipe relies on fried eggs—every budget lover’s dream—while roasted red pepper and swiss cheese give it a gourmet twist. Experiment with your favorite add-ins—lettuce and tomatoes would complement this well.
The original cobb salad gets a healthier makeover with this barbecue chicken version that’s loaded with black beans, corn, and a whole bunch of tasty veggies. Add your favorite dressing (just go easy if you're counting calories) to customize your creation.
Makes lunch for today and (maybe) tomorrow.
This is the perfect salad for when you’re in the mood for something light and sweet, but still filling. Antioxidant-rich strawberries, gorgonzola, and healthy-fat-filled avocado are tossed with superfood spinach and a super-simple homemade dressing starring poppyseeds gets drizzled on. Deliciousness ensues.
Makes lunch for today and tomorrow.
If you couldn't get enough of the strawberry avocado combo above, then this recipe is for you. Goat cheese adds an unexpected flavor toast to this yummy panini. If you're feeling something, meatier, though, grilled chicken would pair well.
These peppers feature a healthy spinach and quinoa combo, but they're also chock-full of southwest-style ingredients: corn, salsa, black beans, and cilantro all make appearances. Though overall cooking time is a bit longer than the other recipes, the active prep time is minimal—and the end result is worth it.
Is it us, or do stuffed foods just taste better? Take this stuffed avocado, for instance, which is packed with garlicky shrimp. This recipe takes just a few simple ingredients—avocado, garlic, shrimp, heart-healthy olive oil, and seasonings—and turns them into a filling meal. Add a hardboiled egg as extra filling if you’d like.
Hummus isn’t just for dipping. Here, it acts as a spread for a sweet and savory grilled sandwich. Try adding in lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and your other favorite veggies for a produce-packed midday meal.
You’ll never eye the blue box again. This creamy mac and cheese gets made entirely in the microwave for those nights when you need comfort food, stat. If you have macaroni, shredded cheese, and milk at home, you’re ready to make this. Whole wheat macaroni adds a healthier twist; toss in less cheese (or opt for vegan options) if you’re watching your dairy intake.
If eating at Chipotle is burning a hole in your wallet, it’s time to try your hand at making burrito bowls at home. By combining precooked chicken with a handful of fresh, unprocessed ingredients, a healthy, delicious Mexican-inspired meal is just 10 minutes away—and a whole lot cheaper.
This dish is essentially a heaping bowl of the wonderful staples in Mediterranean cooking, including sundried tomatoes, olives, and artichoke hearts. All those flavors are tossed in olive oil, white wine, and garlic, then combined with your favorite (whole-wheat) pasta for a dinner that’s as easy as it is delicious. The leftovers are just as good, too!
Makes dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow.
If you’re never eaten plantains before, this recipe is the perfect introduction. This banana-looking fruit gets sliced, fried (use just enough oil to submerge half of each slice), and sprinkled with sea salt. Serve with rice and black beans for a meat-free meal that’ll leave you wanting more. If frying isn’t your thing, these are just as tasty baked at 400F in the oven for about 20 minutes, with a flip halfway through.
Makes dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow.
This supremely easy recipe turns a bowl of superfood quinoa into a full-fledged meal. While the quinoa cooks, red peppers and butternut squash get roasted and tossed with figs and seasonings. The result is a surprisingly tasty, healthy, and filing dish.
Spaghetti mixed with shrimp, superfood garlic, and just a touch of butter—this recipe is already winning. But then you add in a splash of cream, white wine (optional), and red pepper flakes for some heat, and this shrimp is out of this world! While the recipe calls for fresh shrimp, make it easier (and quicker) on yourself by using tail-off frozen shrimp. Up the health factor by choosing whole-wheat spaghetti.
Blame (or should we say thank?) the bacon for making this creamy pasta so darn good. This recipe is a lighter version of the traditional Italin dish (featuring peas and turkey bacon), but if you want to sub in regular bacon, you do you! If a fear of eating raw eggs has turned you off to carbonara in the past, don’t fret—the egg cooks right when it hits the pan.
With a name like that, you can’t go wrong. This low-calorie treat made with spelt flour, applesauce, and vanilla extract gets cooked in the microwave and topped with a mouthwatering streusel. The result is a low-calorie cake that will satisfy your sweet tooth when a late-night snack craving strikes.
This traditional recipe can be made single-serve by scooping a heap of apple crisp into a wine glass. Tasty, small, and totally Instagram worthy!
We’ve all been faced with this problem: you want to bake yourself cookies, but just a few. Do you go to the effort, have one or two, and then give away the fruits of your hard labor, or do you try resisting an entire pan of homemade chocolate-y goodness? Finally, a solution! Baking one deep-dish cookie eliminates all those tempting leftovers—and it’s made in a ramekin which, let’s face it, is adorable.
Are these a dessert or a breakfast? All we know is they’re delicious. A pancake batter made of oats, Greek yogurt, and egg whites gets whipped together in a blender and then cooked in minutes. Stuffed with yogurt and jam, these make an awesome French-inspired dessert.
So Easy They Don’t Need a Real Recipe
Need some more inspiration? Try some of the “recipe-free” meals that Greatist team members enjoy whipping up when they’re all alone and hunger strikes.
26. Healthier Taco Salad
Chop and sauté half an onion and half a bell pepper. When they start to brown, add in ground turkey, beef, tofu, or veggie crumbles till cooked, sprinkling in taco seasoning. Combine meat, onions, and peppers with your favorite greens (spinach works nicely). Add in sliced avocado, black beans, corn, and (if you’re in the mood for some crunch) broken tortilla chips. Drizzle ranch dressing on top.
27. Tomato, Basil, Mozz Sandwiches
Drizzle olive oil on two slices of ciabatta bread or any crusty type of bread. Top with fresh sliced mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil; add in your favorite Italian meat, like prosciutto or salami, and sprinkle black pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper on top. Put the two halves together and cook in a pan over medium heat, flattening with a spatula, until cheese is totally melted.
28. Asian Shrimp Stirfy
Sauté leftover vegetables like chopped mushrooms, onions, peppers, carrots, and celery in sesame oil. When they’ve softened, add in shrimp and stir fry sauce. Cook until shrimp are pink (about 3-4 minutes). Add in a beaten egg for the last minute; stir to scramble. Serve over rice.
29. Balsamic Pasta
Saute shrimp in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Add cooked angel hair pasta and toss with more balsamic, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Add thinly sliced mozzarella cheese and inhale.
Originally published April 2014. Updated January 2016.