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Cooking for one or two

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Cooking for one or two

Seniors face many changes as they move into their golden years. Downsizing living spaces and vehicles is common, as is implementing certain changes to improve quality of life. Many seniors also scale back in the kitchen, where some must make changes because of medical conditions. While it seems like reducing food portions would be easy, those used to prepping meals for a large family may find it difficult. The following tips can make meal preparation efficient and cost-effective.

• Divide and store. Supermarkets are increasingly offering larger packages of food products as well as "family size" offerings to compete with warehouse clubs. Buying in bulk can help individuals save money, but it may not always be practical for people living alone or with just a spouse. If you must buy in bulk, invest in a food vacuum sealer or freezer storage bags. Immediately separate meats and poultry into smaller portions before storing them in the freezer. Otherwise, look for bulk items that are individually wrapped to maintain freshness. Many canned and jarred items can be covered and stored in the refrigerator after containers are opened.

• Plan meals with similar ingredients. To reduce food waste, use leftovers to create casseroles or mix them in with new meals. Broiled or grilled chicken can be used to make soups, stir-fry dishes, fajitas, and sandwiches. The fewer ingredients you have to buy, the smaller the risk of spoilage.

• Cut recipes in half. Recipes can be cut down depending on how many mouths need to be fed. When baking, cutting back on proportions of ingredients can be challenging. Search online for recipe-scaling programs that can make the work easier.

• Cook on the weekend. Use a weekend day to prepare food and package it into small containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Then the containers can be taken out as needed and heated quickly in the microwave for fast meals.

• Organize a meal-sharing club. Get together with a few friends who also have empty nests and split cooking duties. If you're accustomed to cooking larger portion sizes, do so and then spread the wealth with others in the group. Then sit back and relax when it is your opportunity to have meals delivered to you.

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Food bought in bulk should be immediately separated into smaller portions and frozen for later use.