I have written a lot about the value of meals with others. But what about the single person, student or empty nester who is often cooking for one ?
In doing some research for this post, I found some unexpected hilarity. One of the best posts came from one of my favorite websites called Greatist.com. They addressed headlong the temptation to have a pity party. They called out tendency to wallow in loneliness and junk food. They described " sad bowls of cereal ". I was laughing and feeling bad at the same time.
But seriously, loneliness is bad. And if a person finds themselves feeling lonely, they should name it and change it if they wish. I am no expert in this regard since I am most often surrounded by people. But I am a physician and I would encourage any one who suspects they have the corollary of loneliness, i.e. depression, to reach out to their physician for assistance.
But let's say you are not depressed. You're just cooking for one. You have several options.
1. Find someone to eat with. There is a large selection of apps and websites out there to help you find a random stranger to dine with. Seriously ! Check out the HuffPost article below which features several of them. Consider also eatwith.com, mealsharing.com, lunchmeetapp.com, and cookening.com.
2. Go out to a restaurant and at least be around people. This could work if the food was healthy and good choices were made. However one of my sources listed below indicated that, as a general rule, restaurant food is consumed in greater quantities, and contains more saturated fat and sodium compared to home cooked food.
3. Cook a nice full meal with nice regular sized recipes and have a bunch of leftovers. This is the theme in the Bon Appetite pages cited below. They take the position that you should eat only the best. Tiny little streamlined recipes do not do it for them.
4. Cook a balanced little meal for one with little mini recipes for one. Most of the links below propose this.
Notice I did not say have a bowl of cereal or have a TV dinner. I am talking about healthy food here. Here are some tips for literally cooking portions for one.
Buy food strategically. Here are some examples:
1. Choose individually frozen portions such as cut fish fillets or chicken tenders.
2. Choose foods that doing not spoil quickly such as broccoli over red lettuce.
3. Choose foods that require very little preparation since let's face it, the time we usually want to spend cooking is directly proportional to the number of people for whom we are cooking. Fresh fruit takes little prep. Sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella takes little more.
4. Accept that you are going to have to add a few different components to your meal to make it nutritionally optimal. A banana and a glass of milk is not a meal. It is, however, a decent snack.
5. Buy large quantities of healthy foods an repackage them for easy storage and access.
This weekend I might, through a series of unfortunate events, be spending some time cooking for one. I'll be all about the can of salmon over the complex giant salad. But you may want to do better. Here are some great recipe collections for one.