One- and two-person households are a growing sector in the United States. According to the 2010 census, the U.S. has more than 61 million one- and two-persons households.  

These households have something in common:  They need to eat!

Sometimes cooking for one or two may seem like it’s not worth the trouble; however, everyone needs a variety of foods to stay healthy.  

Homemade meals can be more nutritious, better tasting and more economical than foods purchased that have been fully prepared.

Use the USDA MyPlate to guide your food choices.  Nutrition and physical activity play a vital role in maintaining good health.  

The latest USDA food icon, MyPlate, provides individualized plans to help guide your food choices. Visit the website at and enter your gender, age and physical activity level to print out a personalized plan.  

Use this guide to help plan your menus to meet your nutritional needs.

Remember these key messages:

• Make at least half your grains whole grains;

• Vary your veggies;

• Focus on fruit;

• Get your calcium-rich foods;  and

• Go lean with protein.

Reduce your favorite recipes. Choose recipes that fit with your tastes and time requirements.  

Whether you are a 20-something single person or an “empty nester couple” with grown children, you don’t need to throw away your favorite family recipes.  You can adapt many of them to fit your current household size.

Try these tips to help reduce your recipes:

•  Choose recipes that are easy to divide mathematically.  In recipes calling for three eggs, use two eggs and remove 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (if present) from the recipe.  (The table below can help)

• If a recipe calls for a can of beans or soup and you divide the recipe in half, use what you need and freeze the remaining food.  Label the container with the contents and date.  You’ll have the correct amount for the next time you make this recipe.

• Add seasonings gradually.  Sometime you may need to add more (or less) of the spice to reach the desired flavor.

• Check for doneness of halved recipes five to 10 minutes sooner than the original recipe.

• Keep notes about what works—and what doesn’t!

Reducing Recipes

Making half a recipe


When the recipe calls for: — Use

¼ cup    —    2 tablespoons

1/3 cup  —   2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons

½ cup  —   ¼ cup

2/3 cup —   1/3 cup

¾ cup  —      6 tablespoons

1 tablespoon  — 1 ½ teaspoons

1 teaspoon —    ½ teaspoon

½ teaspoon  —  ¼ teaspoon

Making one-third of a recipe:

When the recipe calls for: —  Use

¼ cup   —  1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon

1/3 cup  —   1 tablespoon + 2 1/3 teaspoons

½ cup  —   2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons

There are web sites that let you adjust their recipes to smaller yields.  Check out these web sites: (click on ‘recipes’) (click on ‘allrecipes recipe collections’ category of choice, then desired recipe.  Entered desired number of servings).

Cooking for one- or two-persons can be a challenge at first, but in time you can enjoy food preparation as much as you have the in the past, and have healthier dishes.

Rita Hodges is the Ellis County Extension Agent-Family & Consumer Sciences. Contact Rita at 972-825-5175 or

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.  The Texas A & M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.