Even when cooking for one, Americans say leftovers are piling up in their fridge

NEW YORK — Is putting leftovers into the fridge a useless endeavor? New research shows the majority of leftovers Americans cook winds up in the trash uneaten.

It’s not for lack of trying however, according to the new study. In fact, 61 percent say they always refrigerate their leftovers, but never get around to eating them.

The poll of 2,000 Americans asked respondents about their cooking habits and being a solo chef. Researchers find 66 percent say when they cook for themselves, they always accidentally end up making enough food to feed a family. It’s no wonder then that three in five respondents constantly feel like they’re wasting food when they fly solo in the kitchen.

Cooking solo has pros and cons

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Gilbert’s Craft Sausages, the survey reveals the hardest part of cooking for one is having the self control to even do it. Nearly half the poll (48%) say they constantly struggle with the urge to order delivery or takeout instead of cook.

Respondents also admit they feel like their food never stays hot enough by the time they sit down to eat (43%) or they feel too stressed after cooking the meal to truly enjoy it (38%). Forty-six percent say finding healthy options for single serve, ready-to-eat meals is another struggle they often face.

Cooking for one isn’t all bad though, as 66 percent of respondents say this is the perfect opportunity for them to have creative freedom in the kitchen. Nearly three in four Americans (73%) agree that a top perk of cooking for just themselves is being able to make their food exactly how they like it.

Conversely, when they cook for others, 64 percent feel like they always have to adapt what they’re cooking to fit the tastes of others. Two in three (66%) prefer to try new recipes on themselves to see if it’s worthy of being presented to a larger group.

“Whether for those living alone or preparing a lunch for while working from home, the past year has brought new attention to cooking for one and the food waste that often comes with it,” says Chris Salm, founder of Gilbert’s Craft Sausages, in a statement. “Individually wrapped and healthy proteins, like our chicken sausages, are an easy way to add flavor to a dish or customize for different diet preferences and restrictions in a household, without resulting in a ton of leftovers that won’t get eaten.”

Kitchen inspirations

Forty-eight percent of Americans said get their recipe inspiration from online articles and blogs. Another 45 percent simply turn to good old-fashioned cookbooks.

Other places respondents find inspiration include family recipes and cooking shows (44%), Instagram and social media influencers (35%), and recommendations from friends (28%). Regardless of the recipe’s origin, the average home cook has five go-to meals they can whip up at any time.

“Solo diners shouldn’t have to sacrifice taste, health or flavor because of limited options,” adds Salm. “The last year has taught us that we each need to identify the cooking style and methods that work best for us.”

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