Kweli Kitwana is a regular contributor to this blog (This…I…Do…For…Me!). She openly shares her journey from taking care of others all of her life to now giving herself permission to focus on herself. In this post, Kweli discusses how single people can have a great dining experience.
Thank you, Kweli for sharing.
Over two years ago, I found myself single again. Wait, let me rephrase that — over two years ago I ended 37 years of taking care of others, and I found a path toward taking care of myself. With this came the responsibility of rethinking how I nurture myself (including cooking for one). This seemed simple enough, because, I always saw myself as an excellent cook, host and creator in the kitchen. I could whip up a party for 20; a meal for eight; and make homemade vegan cookies by the batches–all in one day!! So, cooking for one, should have been easy.
It turns out that it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Truth be told, I didn’t really understand that all of that fanfare of cooking was “fed” by making others happy and full. In retrospect, I now see it was fueled by a deeper journey with my own personal relationship with food.
I recall going on my first “singles” shopping trip during which I noted, I needed apples. Wait, I thought, I don’t need apples, I need AN apple. Looking at the apples, I realized at that moment I could choose any apple I wanted without the slightest consideration of one other person. It felt liberating, yes; but, it also brought about a complicated emotion. At that moment I knew that I hadn’t ever taken full control of my health, as I deferred my nutrition to other folks’needs.
Taking a survey of what I wanted meant one clear thing — doing for MYSELF what I have done for others!! It meant embracing, celebrating and recognizing that eating is an individual experience.
Logistically, this took some planning. I needed to downsize my effort without reducing and skimping on the outcome. Therefore, I committed to creating a beautiful, nutritious and kick-ass dining experience for myself every dang gone day!!
Here’s how I do it:
It seems silly to say this, but you simply keep doing what you always do, except on a smaller scale.
I bought myself a toaster oven. It makes cooking for one really easy. How about that?
I literally created a set of toaster oven size bakeware for myself. I did this at the local ceramic studio. It may sound overwhelming to some, but it was simply rolling out clay, firing it and designing it. I wanted to cook in and eat on some special dishes. You can also buy toaster oven size bakeware if you aren’t interested in making your own.
Another helpful hint is that I shop in the bulk food section at my grocer. Here I could buy small batches of grains and spices. Also, I get to explore more foods by purchasing them in smaller quantities.
Buying produce when it is on sale and cutting them up to freeze gives me the option to eat more variety. Fresh is great, but I have realized when you eat as a single person, you have to plan for getting the most from your produce.
Giving myself permission to cook small batches of rice, beans and other items, I typically cook for more. I had to stay aware that the directions on most items are for 2-4 servings. Unless you want to have leftovers, do the math for one serving. I regularly cook one cup of dried beans.
Speaking of leftovers, I don’t like eating the same thing over and over, so I avoid this by cooking using the “single-method.” I have become extremely creative!
For instance, I bake a cookie (or two…ok, three) at a time (cutting the recipe in half) and freezing the dough.
I have invested in various sizes of mason jars. These suckers are the best thing for storing food!! But, I also use them to bake small batch recipes.
Here is what I’m saying — treating yourself to a great meal is not only a good way to take care of yourself, but it’s been the best thing I done for myself in a long, long time. Now, I look forward to cooking and eating alone.