1. Think petite. Purchase small saucepans, an 8-inch skillet, and either a stovetop cast-iron grill pan or an electric grilling appliance. With smaller pans you'll be less likely to cook too much food.

2. Use your freezer. Divide up budget-priced, family-size packages, such as chicken breasts, into heavy-duty freezer bags (gallon or quart size), or buy bagged meats already frozen in individual pieces. Check the frozen-food aisle for vegetables in zippered bags, which allow you to defrost only what you need.

3. Watch portion sizes. The American Dietetic Association (www.eatright.org) recommends using well-known objects to gauge portions. For one serving, 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or chopped fruit is the size of half a baseball; a medium-size fruit or 1 cup of green leafy vegetables equals one baseball; 3 ounces of cooked meat look like a deck of cards; 1 ounce of cheese is the size of four dice.

4. Anticipate leftovers. When grilling fish or chicken, cook extra; the next day, tuck the leftovers in a tortilla with roasted peppers. Make a meal from leftover steamed rice by adding a scrambled egg, bits of cooked vegetables, a drizzle of sesame oil, and a splash of soy sauce.

5. Reach out. Invite other singles, especially seniors and single parents, for a casual meal. It may become a weekly tradition that they'll appreciate and reciprocate.

6. Celebrate. As often as you like, set the table with a candle, flowers, and a cloth napkin. After cooking a healthy meal for yourself, you deserve it!