Table for One, please?
While writing for my blog at Le Petit Journal, a small bistrot in Curepipe, I realised that I have always been the only person eating and writing alone in a small corner of the resto. By the way, it’s how I get inspired to write. To be honest, after a few times spent at Le Petit Journal, some regulars did ask me “Vous aimez ecrire seule, mademoiselle?” This is not a complaint but just to say that I like to eat alone. Not all the time but sometimes it happens. Well, I must say it can be excuse to accompany my spaghetti with a glass of wine. Occasionally, a few questions about the menu or my blogging activity can lead to great conversations with the owner when I’m alone.
I talk to people all day long. Whether I’m finding articles for newspapers or dealing with hundreds of questions that come up everyday from people. Being a nutritionist, I’m constantly interacting with people non-stop. Don’t get me wrong. I love talking to people and I even believe it’s the best part of my job as a nutritionist. I have an active professional and social life that fulfills me on all levels as I can rarely stay quiet. But sometimes I need a break.
Even though around a third of us are looking for independence, whether it is overseas studies, renting an apartment on our own or travelling for business, the image of a lone diner in a restaurant is quite sad to most of us.
If you think of the business traveler on a table with only an iPad or worse paperwork for company, it’s true it’s not very inspirational.
It is not easy to cook for only one person unless you are super-organised and cook in batches to eat at leisure. Sometimes even ordering for one may look wasteful. But I believe that if you aspire to become independent and ambitious in life, then why should you feel embarrassed about being a lone diner?
Here, I really want to break the perception that eating alone in a restaurant or even at home is not attractive. Actually solitary eating can be an inspiring experience because you get the chance to disconnect for a while in our hyper-connected world (facebook, twitter, whatssap, Viber…sometimes too much to handle).
I doesn’t take much to make a healthier, better-tasting meal for one. There is absolutely no place for those prepackaged frozen meals, full of additives and salt. You can save hundreds of calories and dozens of grams of fat by adopting a good strategy.
Here are 5 “basics” tips:
1. Make your cooking experience fun.
If chopping veggies, boiling pasta and cleaning utensils sound really boring to you, then make it more enjoyable. Try cooking with some music on while sipping a glass of wine (my favourite) and dancing on a few salsa steps. You can equally look for easy recipes on YouTube.
2. Cook once and eat twice.
It’s OK to make a larger dish. Just be sure to portion out and freeze individual servings to eat another time.
3. Reinvent leftovers.
If you don’t want to eat the same thing over and over again, you can transform your last night dinner into a different lunch. For example, your roasted chicken can become a healthy sandwich and your rice can be added in a stew.
4. Learn how to cook for one.
You can look for cookbooks or simple recipes online about “reduced-size” meals for one. Make sure you keep a record of those recipes.
5.Make healthy choices.
Prepare your grocery list well in advance in order not to be tempted to pill up your basket. You have to be strategic about what you can stock up and what is better in single-serve sizes. For example, if fresh veggies go unused and rotten between grocery visits, it might be wiser to buy smaller portions/quantities or go for frozen ones which are better than canned products.
Cooking for one doesn’t mean eating alone. You can easily invite your neighbour or a friend to join you. Everyone loves a good home-cooked meal and most people probably feel just as awkward about reaching out as you do. Be the one who takes the initiative. There is absolutely no shame in that. Having enough food to share with others can be a great way to break the ice and make new friends or simply to deepen existing relationships. People who share their food share their heart.
However I must admit my best food memories revolve around shared meals with plates passing among busy mouths or a cozy lunch with my best-friends or simply a comfy yet romantic date with inside jokes and endless laughs. It is just in defense of eating alone that I say it is a quieter satisfaction to make yourself happy over a lone meal in a world with so much noise.