Living as a lone adult for a few months has been a big learning experience for me, as ridiculous as that might sound. At the age of 38, I’ve never lived alone before, moving from home to college to marriage, back home and then moving in with Stephen pretty seamlessly. But with Stephen away, I’ve had the opportunity to see how I get on alone. And, I have to say, I’m not doing brilliantly.
See, I had this grand plan. While Stephen was away, I was going to turn myself into Superwoman. I was going to put in hours of exercise every day, probably whilst simultaneously learning a foreign language and doing the housework. I was going to be an amazing mother, effortlessly create an allotment to rival the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and have loads of adventures of my own. After all, what was to stop me?
I’ve done some exercise. I’ve dropped out of a routine in the past couple of weeks though I’m still proud of completing the Rapha 100K last weekend. I’ve had a fair few adventures, some wonderful learning experiences and even managed to grow a few veggies. My kids seem happy and got great school reports. But there’s one thing I’ve really, really struggled with. And that is FOOD.
Without someone else there, those organic greens I promised myself have turned into leftovers of whatever the kids have eaten, or perhaps a bowl of cereal for dinner. When I’m alone I apparently don’t consider myself worthy of decent food. A quick chat on Twitter suggests that I’m not alone in behaving like this. It’s funny how we go to lots of effort for other people but won’t put in the same effort to nourish ‘just’ ourselves. Sometimes by the time I’ve actually got around to thinking about dinner it feels far too late to cook. I reach for biscuits and sugary stuff to keep me going through my days, have way too many simple carbs, and have steadily increased the amount of junk food I eat. And, yes, that’s despite going to all the effort of growing my own food!
I do attempt to cook and eat with the kids once a week, but they’re both quite little and are quite fussy about trying new things so it’s not always the easiest thing to do and isn’t solving my problems. And they’re only around half of the time, so there’s plenty of time when it’s just me.
In an attempt to get out of this increasingly negative relationship with food, over the past couple of days I’ve started cooking again. I made the world’s best grilled cheese sandwich over the weekend. Adapted from a recipe in Smitten Kitchen, it had home-grown shallots caramelised in butter with a splash of good balsamic vinegar, Emmental cheese, and Leeds Bread Co-op sourdough bread, and was buttered on the outside before frying on both sides. Artery-clogging, yes. But seriously good.
Even though it was terribly unhealthy, it sparked a desire to cook for myself more, and so last night I made risotto with some home-grown peas and gorgeous Yorkshire chorizo. It feels good to be caring enough about myself to cook from scratch. Next up, I need to get LOTS more of those greens into me, and get back onto my exercise schedule again. I need to feel healthy again. For exercise I shall be working on my own rules for sticking to a schedule, but I could do with your help with the cooking.
I have very little freezer space, time and energy. And the truth is that cooking for one can be pretty dismal. What I’d like to know from you is this: do you have any amazing recipes for one person? Do you regularly cook just for yourself? Any tips for eating something better than a bowl of cereal?
In a few weeks’ time, Stephen will turn homeward-bound. It would be rather brilliant to feel a bit more like Superwoman by the time he returns…
If you’ve got any tips, please do leave them in the comments!