I used to be afraid of cooking for myself. Not that I couldn’t do it or that it wouldn’t be tasty… rather, I always felt mildly depressed that I was cooking just for one. During my first few years in New York City, the prospect of a meal alone only increased the feelings of loneliness I felt from being one individual in such a big city teeming with millions of people. So I would either eat at restaurants with friends or, if I had to eat alone, do a half-assed job of making something that couldn’t really qualify as ‘cooking’ a meal. (e.g., hummus and pitas; chips and guacamole; cheese cubes. Really.)
A few years ago, I realized that I wasn’t nourishing myself. Sure, I might be eating healthyish foods, but I wasn’t creating nourishment for myself. Further, it occurred to me that ‘cooking dinner’ doesn’t have to constitute of a fancy schmancy meal… it just has to be something that I want to eat at that point in the day. I didn’t want to be eating cubes of swiss cheese for a meal–I was just doing it in protest.
Since then, I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking for myself. Not huge, multi-course meals; rather, lots of basics that can be combined in various ways. For example, each week I try to make a grain (brown rice, quinoa, etc.), a protein (tofu, chicken, etc.), and some vegetables (lately–lots of roasted eggplant, lacinto kale, sauteed celery and/or fresh corn). Then, for the rest of the week, I can mix and match these basic ingredients. If I’m late for work and I need lunch, I can throw together some rice and eggplant in a tupperware and call it a day. If I’m home and have some time, I can use the basics as a basis for something and supplement the meal by cooking other items.
It’s been working so far. I’m a pretty lazy cook, so I could live off of these one pot meals forever. That’s why I’m trying to make (and blog about) one new recipe per week. It keeps me on my toes and from eating brown rice and kale every night.
Do you like to cook? What’s your favorite meal for one?