Cooking for One

Dinner for One

Ideally, eating is a social event. For me, meals are better shared with someone, and savored with conversation and companionship. Many of my meals however are eaten in solitude. I have friends who are happy to eat a bowl of cereal or ice cream for dinner when they are alone, but that doesn’t suit me. Years ago I read a great book by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin about what people choose to eat when they eat alone, and found many stories I could relate to as well as many good ideas for recipes.

For me, eating alone can bring up a wide range of feelings. There is guilt over what I may have chosen to eat, shame if I don’t feel I deserve this degree of effort, enjoyment of a good meal, well prepared, and loneliness because, well, because I am eating alone. Eating breakfast or lunch alone don’t bother me at all; those meals don’t have the same emotional associations, but I grew up in a house where we ate dinner together every night, and though some of those meals were more of a nightmare than a dream, they instilled in me a strong belief that dinner time is family time, and dining alone just feels wrong.

I often end up cooking and eating while watching something on Netflix. I think people assume that trained chefs eat and prepare elaborate food all the time, but I prefer simple meals whether just for me or for company. I try to plan, to shop ahead, and make healthy choices, but when I am alone, when no one is watching, when I am feeling sad, or angry or lonely those well planned meals often get postponed and substituted with something that feels comforting. Unfortunately the effects are temporary, and once I recover from my food induced fog, I feel worse than ever. I have also come to realize that once I’ve eaten it doesn’t matter that much what I had, it is the anticipation that is the exciting part. Lately I have been using that understanding to talk myself off the ledge of buttery pasta, or bad take out food. I eat better, and less when I eat with other humans.

And so I sigh, eat my perfectly cooked chicken with some nice roasted kale, and realize that it is company I crave, not grilled rib eye with truffle mashed potatoes and buttered haricots verts with lemon zest, well OK, maybe a little.


About Food Stylist in Training

Beginning my career as a food stylist today!
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3 Responses to Cooking for One

  1. Deb says:

    My not-so-guilty “home alone” pleasure: baby Lima beans, simply seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper, eaten out of the pot while curled up in a comfy chair. Not the most balanced meal nutritionally, but pure pleasure!

  2. Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I most certainly will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thanks for sharing!

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