Eating alone and cooking for one can be challenging. Most recipes and food products are meant for more than one person. Despite ones age or stage in life, from being off at college for the first time, to a single professional or a widower, at some point we may all encounter a situation where mealtime will require us to dine solo. This does not mean your diet has to go downhill.
Eating should always be a pleasurable experience. Often when we are alone, we do not take the time to prepare nourishing meals or make the area where we eat attractive. We may nibble on empty calorie snack foods or resort to take out from restaurants. Our health and our pocketbooks may begin to suffer. With some planning and a little effort, you can have healthy, delicious meals that you will enjoy.
Most people only think of the negative aspects of dining alone. However there are many benefits to being alone when it is mealtime. One advantage is that you really can eat what you want when it suits you. You do not have to accommodate anyone else’s schedule or their likes and dislikes. Also since you are alone, it may be more affordable to splurge on a special food items you enjoy like premium meats.
You also can eat at a leisurely pace in a nice environment. Eat on your deck or patio in the spring or in your dining room with special china. Why not use your crystal and china instead of keeping it packed up to collect dust. Add to the ambiance by playing nice music and remember to keep the TV turned off. Sit down and really savor your meal.
Be creative with your recipes. Which ones can be made and then stored for later use, and which ones work better if you just cut the ingredients down so you only get one to two servings? Some recipes do not result in the same quality when ingredients are cut — experimentation is key. Do not be tempted to overeat just because you made a large amount. Leftovers should not be keep in the refrigerator more than one or two days. Most food in the freezer can last several months, properly stored below zero degrees.
Planning is imperative whether you are alone or cooking for a family of eight. You will get more variety and flavor in your meals if you write down menus for the whole week. Plan for several weeks and make some dishes in larger quantities than can be divided frozen for later use. Write down what you would like for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.
Once you have several weeks’ menus planned, you can reuse and remaster them. Look in your cabinets, pantry and refrigerator to see what additional ingredients you will need to buy. Make a list according to how the grocery store is laid out and shop when you are not hungry. This will save you money and time.
Eating alone can be pleasant if you treat yourself like company. Make meal time special by planning your menus carefully, shopping wisely and storing your food properly. Once you get into the habit of eating well, you will find that dining alone can be a relaxing and enjoyable part of your day.
For more information on food, health, and nutrition, visit Forsyth County Extension at http://ugaextension.org/county-offices/forsyth.html.
Forsyth County Extension is supported by The University of Georgia, Forsyth County Government, Forsyth County Board of Education, and United Way of Forsyth County.
Barbara Worley is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for the UGA Extension Forsyth County.