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Adopt New Strategies for Smaller Meals

It is not easy to shift gears from cooking for a family to cooking for just one or two. The first step is to know the appropriate amount of food to buy for 2 people. An Ohio State University Extension fact sheet, “Grocery Shopping for One or Two,” can help. It lists a dozen or so types of vegetables and nearly as many meats with suggested amounts to purchase when planning meals for 2 people. Here are some examples:
  • one-half to three-quarters of a pound of green beans
  • one pound of broccoli or asparagus
  • one-half to two-thirds of a pound of ground beef or sausage
  • a 3- to 4-pound roast will last for two to three meals.
Another OSU Extension fact sheet, “Cooking for One or Two,” offers guidance once you are in the kitchen. One idea is to use smaller pans and baking dishes. For casseroles and similar dishes, check for doneness five to 10 minutes sooner than normal to account for the smaller amount.
In addition to cooking less, portion control once the food is ready for the plate can help combat weight gain. An easy way to do that is to use the “Plate Method.” The basic idea is to fil:l
  • one-quarter of your plate with lean protein
  • one-quarter with a starch, such as:

    • rice
    • beans
    • peas
    • potatoes
    • corn.
  • the remaining half with non-starchy vegetables, which are generally low-calorie.
One way to control portions is to use a smaller plate.  An 8- or 9-inch salad plate is about the right size for proper portion sizes.  Today’s larger 12-inch dinner plates are just too big. You will be surprised!  Studies have shown that people feel more satisfied with less food when it is served on smaller plates.
How to fill up that half-plate with vegetables? Don’t think you need to limit yourself to just one type of vegetable. Nutrition experts recommend eating a variety of vegetables in a wide range of colors.  The color of a vegetable is a good indicator of the health benefits it offers. So, varying it up is a good idea. Try these:
  • a serving of cooked greens on one corner and a helping of roasted cauliflower on the other
  • grill up some yellow summer squash to be served next to fresh tomato slices from the garden. 


Your plate will look beautiful, and your body will thank you for it.

This article originally appeared in Chow Line, a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

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