Food for One.

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.

World's best grilled cheese sandwich


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! 



13 Responses to Food for One.

  1. Lindsay says:

    Do you have a blender? If not, you gotta get yourself a (high speed) blender. A food processor is okay but a blender is better! It is a kitchen ESSENTIAL -for minimalists and hoarders alike.

    Then you can blend your greens and drink them! Or make fruit smoothies, make awesome desserts in about 2 seconds flat (chocolate avocado mousse, chocolate banana peanut butter ice cream, use chia seeds…oh I could go on forever!) Or you could be boring and make soup. It’s a great way to get vegetables in you when actually, you really can’t be bothered to cook. Or a great way to make a meal out of fruit…mainly by making it chocolate-y!

    So…do you have a blender?
    Lindsay recently posted…Plastic Free Tea: Let’s Start a Campaign!My Profile

  2. I’m terrible when D isn’t around, cereal and crisps being the default position.

    I do think Lindsay needs to tell us more about her peanut butter icecream.
    Victoria Wildman recently posted…Tuesday PlotlinesMy Profile

    • Haha! It’s not an exact recipe, but blend two frozen bananas (I always freeze with the skins on because I hate plastic, and it’s really easy to get them out of the skins once they are frozen), a few tbsp cacao powder and a couple of tbsps of peanut butter. That’s it. It makes the glossiest, chocolatey-est ice cream and takes less than a minute! Gotta try it! : )
      Lindsay Miles recently posted…Plastic Free Tea: Let’s Start a Campaign!My Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Cereal and crisps sounds like an incredibly familiar scenario… Peanut butter ice-cream sound amazing!

  3. Meg says:

    Whenever you steam some potatoes or beans or eggs, always cook a few extra so you can easily rustle up a meal the next day e.g. Nicoise salad with leftover potatoes, salad with leftover beans, potato fishcakes made of leftover potatoes with herbs, delicious with home grown salad and some chorizo. Ditto with pasta & sauce, always make extra and then pop the leftovers in an oven tray to make a pasta bake, using some extra herbs/spices/dash of wine… and a handful of parmesan. As much as I love cooking, I find that the only way to cook from scratch most days a week and still retain my sanity is to embrace leftovers as ingredients 🙂
    Meg recently posted…Learning: for the sheer joy of itMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      I think you’re absolutely right, I need to get into the habit of cooking extras to turn into something else – I’m awful at eating the same thing for a few days running because it bored me to tears but turning leftovers into something different works really well, doesn’t it? I never really thought of doing that just for me, even though the whole ‘make a chicken last a week’ thing is something I’ve embraced lots in the past…Hmm.

  4. Carlie says:

    I agree with Meg – leftovers are often recycled in my house, usually into pasta sauce (so whatever it is, I blitz, add tinned tomato…family still haven’t noticed).
    I cook my meals separately most of the time, as I’m wheat-free and on a low histamine and low salicylate diet. I don’t really mind eating the same thing three days running, as long as it tastes nice and I don’t have to think about it. One of my best things is oven-baking half a side of salmon, then eating it with home-grown lettuce and cucumber, or with rice and peas, or in a sandwich or whatever. I’ve noticed that the more protein I eat, the less likely I am to stuff chocolate (which is very bad for me!).
    Also, the more meal-like and knife-and-forky my dinner is, the less I’ll feel deprived, sorry for myself, then binge on banned stuff.
    Have you thought about the 5:2 diet? I love the recipes and use them even when I’m not fasting.

    Anyway, chin up! Superwoman status is just around the corner!
    Carlie recently posted…Herb Walk and Lecture by Fiona Taylor at Hadsham Farm, OxfordshireMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      I completely agree about the knife-and-forky thing – it feels like I’ve really eaten something if I sit down with cutlery instead of eating toast stood over the kitchen sink… I also think you’re right about the protein – I binge on simple carbs which gives me a sugar rush and crash which is a horrible vicious cycle to get into.

  5. Stephen says:

    Hello my love

    I am just catching up with your blog. I too am doing terrible with food but it is more to do with what I am able to buy on the road. I only wish a blender was an option on a bike.

    You are doing really well and I promise to cook you healthy delights on my return. I crave fresh fruit and veg and am sick of dehydrated, processed and tinned food. It will not be long before we are sat at the table together with plates full of food that Hugh F Whittinstalls rabbit would be happy with.

    Until then don’t be so hard on yourself and keep trying to cook rather than open and heat.

    The odd post about great, seasonal meals for one?


    • Elizabeth says:

      Hello my love, it is really lovely to read a comment from you. I am glad that you’re ready to come home and feed me veggies! Especially with the new allotment project, we’ll be self-sufficient-ish in no time 🙂 xx

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