Eating alone definitely doesn’t have to be a bad thing—even when it might not be by choice. These cookbooks for one make it easy—and delicious—to make a meal all for yourself.
Whether you’re a college student learning how to saute for the first time or you’re lucky enough to live solo post-grad (dream life!), making the right amount of food for one person can be tricky, especially if you don’t want to eat the same pan of lasagna all week long. But ordering delivery for one is a checking-account killer, and dinners out with friends add up, so learning how to make your own grub is a valuable skill that’ll help you feel all grown up—and save you some bank, too.
The only thing is, a lot of cookbooks don’t keep the single person in mind. (Whyyy?) So we scoured the shelves for the best books for making the just-right amount of food—enough to fill you up for one night and give you just one day’s worth of leftovers. Better yet, none of the recipes in these picks is devastatingly difficult to master without a sous chef by your side.
Related Reading: 10 Rules to Memorize Starting Out in Your Own Kitchen
There’s no shame in the solo-cooking game, says the Michelin-starred author of this genius book, which emphasizes that making a meal for one doesn’t have to be a sad affair. In fact, it can be empowering and a form of self-love. Lo’s recipes are inspired by her childhood (she’s first generation Chinese-American) and years traveling the world, and it shows in her super-simple dishes, like Broccoli Stem Slaw, Duck Bolognese (It. Is. So. Good.), and even Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie, which is so delectable that you wouldn’t want to share it anyway. Check out our Table Talk with Anita Lo, and get her seafood stew recipe.Buy Now
Perhaps you’ve already heard of Roman’s Insta-famous cookies (you know the ones), but there’s so much more to this book than Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread. Her Slow Salmon with Citrus and Herb Salad is the easiest and most fool-proof way to make salmon (and alas, it’s also very Instagrammable). All 125 recipes are so easy to make and fun to read that we swear you might just delete your GrubHub account for good.Buy Now
Billed as “a cookbook with seriously satisfying, truly simple, good-for-you (but not too good-for-you) recipes for real life,” this is a mouthful—but in the best possible way. Not only are the veggie-heavy recipes super simple and straightforward, they use affordable and easy-to-find ingredients and a minimum of cookware so there’s less to clean up. You’ll find delicious ideas for every meal of the day, from Banana-Avocado Chai Shakes to Shortcut Shakshuka for Two, to a Single-Serving Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookie for dessert.Buy Now
“One Pan, Two Plates: More Than 70 Complete Weeknight Meals for Two” by Carla Snyder, $17.92 on Amazon
Forget the fact that this is aimed at couples—the most important point is that it contains great recipes that are all made in a single skillet and serve two (meaning you’ll never be saddled with a daunting amount of leftovers). There’s also a focus on cutting down prep time, and nothing takes more than 60 minutes to make—that includes Thyme-Rubbed Salmon with Shallots and Caramelized Cauliflower Risotto, and Three Cheese Mac with Crispy Prosciutto.Buy Now
She’s not just an amazing Twitter personality—Teigen is a certified chef, and she knows exactly what young people (heck, everyone) likes to eat at home. In her second book, she’s geniously peppered the text with solid tips and techniques for newbie chefs, like how to pit a mango or prep lemongrass. While her recipes are technically not designed for one person, well, we dare you to make her Scallop Linguine with Casino Bread Crumbs and not finish off the whole pan in one sitting.Buy Now
Indian food can seem intimidating to a new-to-the-game home cook, but Krishna’s recipes are totally approachable, fun, and won’t have you scouring the grocery story for hard-to-find ingredients. The whole book is a nod to her mom’s hybrid style of cooking: There’s an Indian spin on pizza made with roti (for nights when you #canteven), a Saag Paneer but with Feta, even Indian Gatorade, which you can keep in the fridge to accompany your delish meals all week.Buy Now
“Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook” by Carla Lalli Music, $14.69 on Amazon
While this book doesn’t specifically emphasize small-batch food, its focus on teaching streamlined techniques on which to build a solid foundation of kitchen skills, and inherently flexible recipes, means that it’s a great resource for anyone who wants to become a better cook. You can start by scaling recipes down, but eventually, you’ll have the confidence and know-how to improvise your own dishes while using the lessons and flavor combinations in this book as inspiration. It’s full of suggestions for swaps and substitutions, and advice for shopping smarter too.Buy Now
Don’t let the name of this book fool you—it’s packed with easy-to-make recipes that will satisfy college students and post-grads alike (and anyone else who wants to eat well without a lot of fuss). Because who doesn’t love Anytime Waffles? The beginner-friendly recipes like Frambled Eggs (half scrambled, half fried) will help you master your breakfast game, but don’t worry, there are some more refined recipes, too, like a Zucchini and Squash Galette, which is a fancy way to get through Meatless Mondays without feeling like you’re missing out on anything. There are a ton of gluten- and dairy-free options, too.Buy Now
Cooking for hours just to feed yourself can sometimes feel like a total hassle, right? Enter the Instant Pot, which is a dream for making complicated meals in, well, an instant. Clark’s recipes are uncomplicated and fast. Even her Weeknight Chicken Parmesan, which we highly recommend, only takes 20 minutes total to whip up.Buy Now
“Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers” by Julia Turshen, $21.36 on Amazon
OK, so technically this book provides menu plans that are great for feeding a crowd, however, the real genius part is that Turshen shows you multiple ways to reuse leftovers. And TBH, most of the recipes are so good that there aren’t leftovers when you’re making them for a group. But if you’re cooking solo, you should have enough left over to rework her Chicken and Black Eyed Pea Chili into the most delicious Chili Nachos the next day. Don’t sleep on the Skillet Cornbread with Cheddar and Scallions, either.Buy Now
While perhaps a bit dated over 10 years since it was published—it is heavy on traditional dishes some might find old-fashioned, but perfect if you want osso buco or cassoulet for one!—this deserves a spot on the list for its status as one of the first solo dining cookbooks on the scene, not to mention the wealth of helpful tips within its pages (gleaned from all-star chefs like Julia Child and James Beard, whose work Jones edited and published). From basic dishes everyone should know (think: a great tomato sauce and a flavorful stock) to tips on adapting recipes and utilizing leftovers, this book encourages experimentation and indulgence, and proves that cooking for one can be a celebration rather than a chore.Buy Now
Header image courtesy of Alfred A Knopf/Twitter