Cooking for One: What Should I Make For Dinner Tonight?

May 25, 2021

Perhaps your wife is away wandering in the hills with the girls. Maybe your husband is away fishing with the boys. It might be just you. Remember when you had to eat what your parents put in front of you? That was yesterday. Today you’re deciding what’s for dinner! 

"Cook for yourself. No one else is going to judge you." Nigella Lawson


Another Meal, Another Pound?

Popular sources claim we consume 35 tons of food in our lifetime. How much of that do we really enjoy? How much of it is healthy? How much is it because some food just tastes good? Well, that’s a good enough reason to eat! 

We should always try to eat healthily. However when we are alone we often let our health slip. A cup of yogurt, a piece of toast, a carrot, I mean who wants to cook for oneself? 

“Food is not the enemy.  Rather than focus on what you shouldn’t be eating, think about what you can add to your plate that will improve your health, like nuts for heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids or raspberries for their fiber and antioxidants.” Everyday Health


Cooking for One? Meet the 3 Ps of Pleasurable Personal Cooking

We spend most of our adult lives doing things for others, or what we have to do. Let’s give ourselves a break and do something for ourselves with the 3 Ps: planning, preparing, and plating.

“Most people are taught from a young age to be kind and generous to other people. Why not turn some of that kindness and generosity toward yourself?” New York Times

1. Planning a Meal Can be an Adventure

Tip 1: Make it fun and use your smartphone. Use an app, like “Big Oven” or “yummly.” Most apps are free. Find a recipe in the app and add the ingredients to your shopping list. Share recipes with friends. No paper required!

Tip 2: Do you have back issues of newspapers or magazines? Find a recipe and try something new – something you have never made before. There are tens of thousands of recipes out there. Probably hundreds of thousands.

Tip 3: What is your favorite color? Buy only green ingredients. Or red. Or blue! That will be harder.

Tip 4: What did you always want to eat? Is it Tuesday? Just buy ingredients starting with the letter T. 

Tip 5: Just buy those things in the store at eye level. Hmmm.

Tip 6: Plan to watch a favorite movie. Make a meal that fits that theme. “I will make him a meal that he cannot refuse.”

The planning part of a meal is often the most interesting part. The important thing is: You get to choose!


2. Preparing a Meal is Already Eating a Meal


Most of us like eating but not so much preparing. We all know how great a pizza tastes, but the work! Even a juicy hamburger needs to be formed and cooked just right. And all those condiments! 


“Many people enjoy the process of cooking. Slowing down to chop vegetables and stir sauce can actually be quite therapeutic. Enjoy a glass of wine, crank up the volume on the radio and the whole solo cooking experience can actually be very enjoyable.” One Dish Kitchen


Sometimes the best meals are those that prep themselves. When we cook, we try everything, either out of impatience or convenience. The smart cook on their own cooks one meal but eats two. 

Pasta tossed in olive oil, walnuts, and chives? So, how many walnuts did you eat while you were waiting for the pasta to cook? A small chicken breast takes fifteen minutes to sauté, and the potatoes take thirty. How much salad did you eat during that time?

Some other quick and easy ideas: A cheese omelet accompanied by a bowl of olives and a few slices of prosciutto is light but filling. How about a bowl of soup paired with toasted baguette slices and chopped tomato and parsley? Just don’t eat all the baguette before the soup is ready!


3. Plating a Meal without Washing Up

Before there were plates, food was placed on dried slices of bread. The juices of the food softened the bread, which was often then collected after the meal and given to the poor. In other words, you won’t need to wash up if you are creative. (It doesn’t even have to be bread. You can always substitute cabbage or lettuce wraps.)


“Toast is a generally underrated vehicle for all manner of delicious passengers. I’m so obsessed with putting good things on toast that it’s now an all-consuming passion in my kitchen.” The Guardian 


Cookbooks for One

Some further ideas for you. These also make great gift ideas if you know someone who is cooking for themselves. Better yet – cook together!

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