One may be the loneliest number as "Bread" put forth in the 70's, but in terms of cooking it need not be. Last night I was alone for dinner, something that does not happen often, but something that does give me a chance to explore the notion of cooking for oneself. First I think you need dispel the notion that is hardly worth the effort, "why bother" crossed my mind a few times as I stared at the wide expanse of my refrigerator, "I could have peanut butter and jelly" floated through my brain as I searched for a "proper" meal to make.
Instead of getting discouraged or overwhelmed it is easier to plan for your week's menu as apposed to just one night's. By making a little more of 3 things you can easily eat for the week and save yourself some time on those nights when you feel too tired to deal with the whole cooking process. Example, cook a whole chicken on Monday and make some three bean salad or a garden salad, (covering your leftover with a damp towel, it will last a few days). The chicken will make a nice first night meal and leave you plenty for chicken salad/tossed in pasta, topped on your salad,, the list is endless.
If you are like me and not all that fond of eating the same thing two nights in a row, grill a steak on day two with roasted new potato's, also great fodder for a meal on the fly later in the week. Grill a batch of vegetables, you'll find they come in handy.
Day three, roast a large piece of Salmon, good with your bean salad or on it's own and the leftover holds up well. Flake the "extra" Salmon and toss in some with Fettuccine and garlic cream sauce, add some frozen peas, (we all have those somewhere in the back of the freezer), and a little chopped Prosciutto, you have yourself a quick Pasta Della Nona. I try to keep some Prosciutto in the freezer, it lasts a long time and since it usually packed with paper separating the slices it makes it easy to grab just a bit when you need it.
By planning ahead for your week you can save time in the long run and eat well to boot. If you feel the urge to make a full pan of Lasagna, go right on and do it, when it is cooled, portion it into individual servings and freeze it. Keeping a list of things locked away in your freezer will help you remember what you have stashed away for a rainy day. You can include freezing dates so you know who might be past their prime and experiencing freezer burn.
Another thing about cooking for yourself is it allows you to have total freedom and try new things. You can cater to your own tastes and in the process you may stumble upon your next "Masterpiece" or signature dish.