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It's easy to get stuck in a rut when you're cooking for only yourself. There's probably a few go-to recipes you make over and over again. But cooking for one doesn't have to be boring, tedious, or expensive.

To help shake up your routine, we rounded up budget friendly single serve recipes. Most take 20 minutes or less to cook, use pantry and produce drawer staples, and don't need fancy equipment to make (many are even cooked in your microwave!). 

How To Save Money on Groceries

  1. Keep a well-stocked pantry, even if you're cooking for one. That includes your freezer, as well. Stock up on items with long shelf lives like pasta and canned vegetables when there's a good sale so you won't have to buy it at full price.
  2. Pay attention to weekly ads. See what's on sale this week, and plan your meals around sale items if you can.
  3. Sign up for loyalty programs. Many grocery stores will only give you the sale price if you are a member, but it's a small inconvenience for saving big on your grocery bill.
  4. Make a grocery list. We all make impulse buys at the grocery store, but you're less likely to do it if you plan out your meals and make a grocery list ahead of time. Sticking to your list will keep your bill down and your meals healthier.
  5. Shop low-cost grocers. Not all grocery chains are created equal. Stores like Aldi and Costco tend to have cheaper prices than competitors. 
  6. Embrace leftovers. Sometimes it's just as quick and easy to cook two servings as it is one (and some foods are better as leftovers). Don't be afraid to freeze a portion so it'll be a happy surprise when you find it a month later. 
  7. Go vegetarian. Meatless diets are cheaper than buying meat and seafood all the time. Even trying out the meatless Monday trend can save you money in the long run.

Mushroom OmeletPhoto credit: dirkr/istockphoto

1. 5-Minute Omelet

Omelets aren't just for breakfast. Once you master the fast, single serve dish, you'll want them for a quick lunch and dinner, too. They're a great way to use up leftover ham, herbs, and veggies in your fridge, but a plain omelet can be just as satisfying.

Recipe: The Spruce Eats

2. Healthy Smoothie Bowl

Frozen fruit, fresh fruit, nut butter, and granola come together in this gorgeous smoothie bowl. All you need is a blender. Protein powder and chia seeds are great for you but optional.

Recipe: Eating Bird Food

3. 5-Minute Savory Microwave Breakfast Mug

Cooking eggs in your microwave? You bet, and they turn out delicious. This recipe is a great way to use up stale bread. Though it calls for sausage, it'd be great with anything from bell pepper to rotisserie chicken.

Recipe: Budget Bytes

4. Avocado-Egg Toast

You can put anything on toast in the morning to make a fast and substantial breakfast. Avocado and a fried egg is a classic, but you can also try peanut butter with bananas or apples, or cream cheese and tomato. 

Recipe: Eating Well

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Healthy Homemade White Macaroni and CheesePhoto credit: bhofack2/istockphoto

5. Single Girl Mac and Cheese

It takes one pot and less than 20 minutes to make your own macaroni and cheese from scratch — and, of course, it's better than store bought. Feel free to add any cheese you like, but sharp cheddar is always welcome.

Recipe: Homemade Home

Related: We Tried 10 Kinds of Store-Brand Mac and Cheese and the Winner Is...

hot and sour soup with green onion served in a bowl isolated on table top view of taiwanese foodPhoto credit: Waqar Hussain/istockphoto

6. Microwave Hot and Sour Soup

Use a large mug or microwave-safe bowl for this easy soup recipe made with chicken broth, soy sauce, and egg. Leave out the rice vinegar and chili oil if you'd like simpler egg drop soup instead.

Recipe: Kirbie's Cravings

Related: 21 Campbell's Soup Recipes for a Quick and Easy Meal

Loaded, Twice Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon, Cheese, Green Onions and Sour CreamPhoto credit: LauriPatterson/istockphoto

7. BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato

Baked potatoes are a perfect meal for one since they come already portioned. You can load them up with anything, but this sweet potato and barbecue sauce-coated rotisserie chicken is easy and delicious.

Recipe: Sweet Baby Ray's

8. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas for One

The chicken and vegetables for these fajitas all cook on one sheet pan in the oven — or you could throw them in your air fryer. Feel free to use your favorite taco or Tex-Mex seasoning instead of what's listed.

Recipe: One Dish Kitchen

9. Quick and Easy Fettuccine Alfredo for One

Sometimes you just need to treat yourself to something decadent like alfredo. At least when you make this creamy pasta recipe, you can't overindulge since it's one serving.

Recipe: Baking Mischief

10. Salmon Foil Packs

Baking salmon in individual foil packets make for tender, flavorful fish. Potatoes and broccoli make these packs a full meal. Try other flavor combinations like asparagus, lemon, and garlic butter or tomato and olives.

Recipe: Oh Snap Macros

11. Air Fryer Pizza

Store bought pizza dough and jarred tomato sauce are the shortcuts to making fast personal-sized pizzas. If you don't want to mess with dough, make the old college standbys of english muffin or pita pizza instead.

Recipe: Live Eat Learn

12. Taco Salad for One

Got some ground beef languishing in the freezer? Use it up in this single serve taco salad, complete with canned beans, salsa, and whatever veggies you have on hand. Add some crushed tortilla chips for crunch.

Recipe: One Dish Kitchen

Chicken Pot Pie PresentedPhoto credit: JeffKearney/istockphoto

13. Easy Chicken Pot Pie for One

Chicken pot pie has to be one of the best comfort foods, and you can make an individual portion in a small casserole or baking dish. A refrigerated biscuit make the crust easy and filling.

Recipe: One Girl. One Kitchen

14. Best Grilled Cheese

What makes this recipe the "best"? A layer of crispy, caramelized cheese on both sides of the sandwich. Jazz it up with bacon or tomatoes inside, and don't forget the Campbell's tomato soup.

Recipe: Two Peas & Their Pod

15. Pantry Bean and Rice Soup

If you have a well-stocked pantry, you'll be able to make this healthy vegetarian soup anytime. It's flavored with taco seasoning and it's a complete meal in one bowl.

Recipe: Nourish

16. Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles are cheap and delicious. Throw out the seasoning packet in favor of a simple Asian peanut sauce next time and thank us later.

Recipe: Budget Bytes

Apricot crumblePhoto credit: Mariha-kitchen/istockphoto

17. Skillet Peach Crumble for One

This is a one-pan, bake-free dessert that's perfect for peach season. Toast the oat crumble in the pan first, then cook the peaches with butter and brown sugar. Ice cream is always welcome!

Recipe: Nourish

18. Vegan Pumpkin Mug Cake

If you have a little bit of canned pumpkin leftover after making another recipe, this is a great way to use it up. You just mix the ingredients, pour into a mug, and microwave.

Recipe: Ambitious Kitchen

19. Ambrosia for One

Sweet, creamy, and full of fruit, ambrosia is crave-worthy. Since it uses canned fruit, all you need is some vanilla yogurt in your fridge to make this anytime.

Recipe: One Dish Kitchen

20. 1-Minute Microwave Brownie in a Mug

Sometimes only something rich and chocolately will do. For those times, there's this brownie-in-a-mug recipe. If you bake, you have the ingredients on hand, so all you have to do is mix it right in a mug and microwave it.

Recipe: Bigger Bolder Baking

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