Color & Control:

Cooking for one–Yikes!

Making tasty home-cooked meals for yourself requires a little extra effort when it comes to creativity, portion control, purchasing ingredients and preparation.

So why not try a few of these useful tips to inspire your meals? After all, dinner doesn’t have to be difficult to be delicious.

To start: It helps to follow a recipe that calls for smaller serving sizes. Pick one that uses foods and ingredients you know you already enjoy. When you’re planning, consider the opportunity to label and freeze leftovers for those days when you don’t want to cook. Meals that freeze well include meatloaf, lasagna, soup and casseroles.

Breakfast: Start the day off well with an energizing, simple meal such as: Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana, oatmeal or cold cereal with milk and berries, scrambled eggs and slices of tomatoes on a whole-grain bagel.

Lunch and dinner: Opt for easy salads and soups. Yummy salads can be so much more than a mix of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. For a complete meal, add a protein like beans, tofu, chicken, meat or cheese. Soup is flavourful and easy to prepare. Since soup freezes well, one-pot can result in many meals. You can’t go wrong with chicken noodle soup and a kale or spinach salad. Alternately, mains such as stews and goulashes are easy meals. Remember there are fewer rules now. If you feel like eggs or cereal for dinner, go ahead and enjoy. And, when you don’t feel like cooking from scratch, be ready with wholesome, healthy ready-to-eat packaged foods that aren’t high in sugar and salt. Read food labels before you buy!

Make mealtimes interesting
Eating alone may be difficult at first. Keep your spirits up by choosing a nice place in your home to eat. Set a table with flowers, a placemat and a napkin. You may enjoy listening to music or sitting near a window with a nice view. Bring a book or magazine. Make dining a ritual that’s a personal pleasure. And, engage your guilty pleasures every once in a while; eat dinner in a bowl with a spoon, on the counter with your fingers or in a take-out box in bed with Netflix.

You might want to be social at times to keep up with connections and studies show that you eat more nutrients when dining with company. Zoom with a friend and eat dinner at the same time. Share a potluck dinner with a neighbour. Order in once in a while. Check your local senior centres; many offer meals on wheels or, host weekly events that include lunch or dinner.

Bottom line
Try to keep healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods in the house all the time. Put on AGT (America’s Got Talent) with your BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato).

Dine alone, but engage with others
If you decide to go out, make the most of it. Order wine by the glass. Engage with your server; don’t be afraid to ask for things. Your experience can be just as good whether you’re two people, three people, four people, or just one person.

Practice mindful eating
When eating alone, there’s no need to rush. Focus simply on the food: its colours, texture, taste and smell. Decide what you’re hungry for, whether it’s summer-ripe tomatoes, fresh strawberries or rich ravioli and pay singular attention to the act of eating.

“Hello, Let’s Eat.”
Eating together is a great way to get to know one another in Edmonton with a new program called Hello, Let’s Eat. “Dining provides a conversation starter and a common experience to connect over,” says the founders. Anyone who wants to host a communal-style meal can borrow place settings and equipment for free. Pre-COVID, there were 13 community-style events booked through the program with several more planned.

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