Although there are special adjustments you must make when cooking for your fabulous, single self, there are far more benefits than detractions. First of all, you don’t have to consider anyone’s preferences but yours, and you never have to eat meals you don’t really like just because someone else is there.
Grocery manufacturers are finally wising up to the fact that around a third of Americans now live, cook and eat alone, but food items are still overwhelmingly packaged for families of four.
Cooking for yourself is healthy and inexpensive, and you can do it right if you follow a few tips:
Ignore the rules. Who says that eggs and toast are for breakfast and cake is for dessert? Society sets the rules that say when you should or shouldn’t eat a certain dish, but when you cook for one, you are the queen of your kitchen- so if you want a steak for breakfast and cereal for dinner, do it!
Shop for less more often. Big families can stock up on goods from Costco to last a month, but if you do this as a single you will wind up eating the same tomato soup every day for two weeks. Plus, as a single you probably don’t have enough room in your apartment for a stockpile of groceries. Instead, go to your local market every week to buy your groceries for the next several days. Your produce will be fresher and you won’t waste groceries because they ruin or go stale.
Bulk deals aren’t deals if you waste half of what you bought. Costco works great for large families, but what are you going to do with twenty zucchinis? Even if bulk groceries cost much less than those at your neighborhood store, wasting food is never a deal.
Watch the snack trap. When you eat alone, you may fall into the trap of eating mostly snack foods and rarely starting up your oven to create a well-balanced meal. This is not a good idea nutritionally, and you are probably ingesting far more calories in snack form than you would if you sat down to a proper meal.
Forget the meat and vegetables routine. Traditionally, a meal in America consists of a meat centerpiece, several vegetables, a piece of bread and maybe even dessert. However cooking all those dishes for one doesn’t even make sense. Learn to use meat primarily as a flavor agent, not the main star, and create meals that that you want to eat, even if that means two vegetables and a glass of juice.
Try new recipes. Keep a folder of interesting recipes to try, and every once in a while, give one a go. This will keep you from getting bored with the same-old-same-old. Good recipes can go in a book to keep and awful ones can be tossed- only you will ever know about the horrendous meal you made!
Work in old favorites. If you love broccoli, find a way to add it to breakfast (scrambled into eggs with cheese), to lunch (chopped in a salad) and dinner (steamed with carrots). You can create a diet for yourself that includes all your favorite food items, and this especially works well with healthy options.
Freeze your food. Most recipes make enough food for four people. Make your dish, then freeze half of it immediately. You will avoid getting burned out by eating the same meal five days in a row, and the other half will be waiting for you to defrost and enjoy with minimal effort.
Sit down and enjoy your meal. Although you might be tempted to eat while attending to other matters or watching TV, try to sit and have a lovely meal by yourself at least once a day. Carve out some time and sacred space for your dinner ritual. Sit down with the bounty life has provided you, spend a moment reflecting on your blessings and then relish each bite of the meal you have prepared.
Shilo Urban is a freelance writer who has relocated to Los Angeles after her previous homes of Seattle, New Zealand, Paris, Maine, and Austin. She is an active member of the West Coast electronic music community and lives to promote the art that she loves and the people who create it.