On the first Sunday of each month, I write a Dinner for One feature. It offers quick, simple meals for just one person, though they could easily be multiplied by two or more. The proportions are scaled down, and suggestions are offered for reducing waste (i.e. make use of the salad bar, bulk food section, and deli and butcher counters for ingredients to get just the amount you need, rather than having to use up lots of excess from packages).
No matter what the reason for your eating alone, you likely think it’s not worth cooking just for yourself: dishes to wash, too much time and trouble for only one person, etc. Pfft! As though you’re not worth any effort? As though it’s not important that you eat a good, wholesome, home-cooked meal?
You absolutely deserve a nice dinner at the end of the day, even if you’re eating it alone.
I usually cook for two. But my boyfriend, Craig, has been away for a couple of weeks, so I’ve been on my own for dinners. Many people would just get take-out or go out to eat, not bothering to venture into the kitchen at all.
Most people see cooking for one person as a chore.
But regular readers will know that when Toledo’s most famous picky eater is away, the food editor will play. For me, this is not a burden but, rather, an opportunity. And I admit, hanging my head with only a teensy bit of shame as I type, that I sometimes get a bit too giddy about it. I start planning my meals even before Craig leaves, dreaming of all the foods he either hates or can’t eat that I’m going to revel in while he’s gone.
No constraints. No compromises. Whee!
One night I had a BLT salad, inverting the proportions of the sandwich. It had green leaf lettuce, slivers of red onion, tomatoes, and chopped bacon (freshly cooked for aromatherapy and for the precious drippings to save), with some leftover puff pastry scraps tossed in as croutons. I was going to cut up the last straggling half-piece of naan and toast it, until I remembered that I’d already used that for a fried egg sandwich. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Think beyond the usual bread cubes. I thinned some thick blue cheese dressing with a splash of Perrysburg’s own Garlic Expressions for a vinaigrette.
Another evening, I made an Italian-style stir-fry with sausage, sautéing it with red and white onions, a good dose of garlic, strips of red and orange peppers, and mushrooms along with a splash of red wine and some chopped tomatoes; sprinkles of parsley and parmesan finished it nicely. The leftovers were served over whole wheat penne the next evening, which was enhanced with basil pesto and generous handfuls of fresh spinach that were stirred in just until they wilted.
I also made tacos, filling griddled corn tortillas with sautéed onions and scallions that were seasoned with Toledo Flavors Food Tours’ Aztec spice blend, which was created by my friend chef Andrew Ruiz. I added toasted corn to the filling and spritzed it all with fresh lime juice before topping everything with chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, and a dollop of guacamole.
Lemony lentil soup with flecks of carrot, celery, and spinach, as well as turkey burgers with a dash of nutmeg, are also on my planned menu.
So don’t ever think that it’s too much bother to prepare a simple but delicious meal for yourself. I can personally attest to it being quick and easy to do.
And, as the old L’Oréal hair color commercials used to say, you’re worth it.
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