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I’ve been cooking just for myself for about seven years. At the ripe old age of 18, I became a vegetarian and started cooking my own solo meals, separate from what my family ate. At first I tried to have their side dishes made with my own vegetarian protein, but it was incredibly sad to have a plate of chickpeas while my family was gnawing at steak and potatoes – so I had to get creative.
But I am grateful for that. That made me learn to cook and experiment with vegetarian meals. As a (still) single woman all these years later, I got this whole cooking thing done for one thing. Not only have I perfected the ingredients that I can use for multiple meals so I don’t eat the same thing every day, but I’ve figured out which cooking utensils I need in my arsenal to get the job done without taking up too much space take my little kitchen.
Here are 10 things I recommend to anyone who cooks for one, including a popular pressure cooker and containers to hold any leftovers.
1. The cult favorite instant pot
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love my Instant Pot. It really is a device that changed my life as an individual. There are so many cooking settings like roast, slow cook, rice cook and, my personal favorite, quick cook. It allows me to cook grains and soothing soups in one batch, and since I can just throw the ingredients in and press a button, I can shower or catch up on work while my meal cooks. It’s really amazing and everyone should own one.
Get the Instant Pot 80 Duo 8L / 8Q multifunction electric cooker from Amazon for € 99.99
2. A really good knife
Having a knife set is nice and all, but when you cook for yourself all you really need is a trustworthy knife. Although I have a couple of knives in my drawer, I almost exclusively use my large chef’s knife for everything from chopping vegetables to cutting fruit. This twin is the best chef’s knife we’ve ever tested because it’s durable and easy to use – so you don’t slice your digits. If you can get a knife, this should be it.
Get the Zwilling 20cm chef’s knife at Zwilling for £ 104
3. Container for all leftovers
If you’re just cooking for yourself, leftovers are inevitable. Whether you’ve cooked quinoa, prepared a meal big enough for a family of five, or ordered too much pad thai, you need to save your groceries. These glass containers by Pyrex are made of sturdy glass, are leak-proof and have a ventilated lid for the microwave. They are also great for meal preparation.
Get the Pyrex Cook & Heat set of 5 from Amazon for £ 58.95
4. Baking trays for dinner in the sheet pan
One of my favorite foods is the tin. Just chop your vegetables, add your protein, add all the seasoning, and toss in your oven. Don’t babysit for a pot for 30 minutes before you have a meal. You need a good sheet pan for even heating. For this reason, Nordic Ware half sheets are our favorite baking trays. However, we recommend combining parchment or a silicone mat with it to prevent it from sticking.
Get the Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet, 2-pack on Amazon for £ 33.34
5. A blender for personal smoothies
Smoothies are my favorite breakfast because they are so easy to make. You just toss all of your ingredients into a blender and off you go. Since regular blenders can be bulky and bothersome to clean, I prefer using a personal blender. We loved the Ninja Slim and voted it the best jumpsuit when testing personal mixers. It’s fast, long-lasting, and you can drink straight from the blender jar, which means less cleaning. You can also use it to mix sauces and dressing – although I will warn that the steam makes it difficult to open when mixing hot foods.
Get the Ninja Slim Personal Blender on Amazon for € 49.99
6. Sustainable packaging for storing your food
When it comes to storing food, I always feel a little guilty about wrapping my sliced pepper or avocado half in plastic wrap – which often happens when I don’t use all of the ingredients while I’m just cooking for myself. It is so wasteful! This is where Bee’s Wrap comes in. It is a reusable cloth that is covered with a layer of beeswax so that it sticks to itself or to objects. It’s great for covering your bowl in dip that you couldn’t finish or wrap up some snacks to eat on the go.
Get the Bee’s Wrap, set of 3 on Amazon for € 9.79
7. A waffle iron for single servings
Waffles are one of my favorite things to do on the weekend and it always feels like I’m treating myself. But when I’m just making waffles, it feels like a waste of space to have a full size waffle iron in my already limited cupboards. That’s why I love the Dash Mini Waffle Maker. It’s cute and compact, and actually works pretty well – although you need to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
Get the Dash Mini Waffle Maker at Urban Outfitters for £ 22
8. A toaster for baking small things
Even if you have a large oven, a toaster is a great addition to solo meals. Because it’s smaller, it heats up a lot faster than your standard oven, which means you can fry vegetables, bake cookies, and – of course – toast toast much faster. We love the Sage Smart Oven Pro and have named it the best toaster we have ever tested. It’s basically a powerful mini oven, and we’ve found it to have the most uniform heating of all the toaster ovens tested. It also has a convection option.
Get the Sage Smart Oven Pro on Amazon for 249 euros
9. An air fryer for quick crisping
Much like the toaster, an air fryer is incredible for quickly crisping vegetables or making slightly healthier versions of your favorite fried foods. Seriously, it’s one of my favorite ways to make tater tots or to heat up frozen food. Cosori makes our preferred affordable air fryer because it works similarly to high-end models for about a third the price. It’s a bit bulky, but you’ll want to make room for this incredible cooking utensil.
Get the Cosori Premium 5.5 liter air fryer on Amazon for € 84.99
10. An easier way to strain pasta
One of the easiest meals to make for one person is pasta, but straining the water can become a chore. You need to pour your precious noodles into a colander, then put them back in the saucepan and brush with a creamy sauce. It seems like a waste of time to me. That’s why people love this colander, which snaps straight onto the pot and eliminates the middleman. It also takes up less space in your kitchen cabinets than a full size colander. Critics say it works for everything from heavy noodles to draining beef fat.
Get the FineGood Silicone Snap Strainer on Amazon for £ 11.98
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