Cooking for One

I think most of my readers know that I'm widowed and live alone. That's not a bad thing. In fact, I've become comfortable with living on my own and being able to set the thermostat where I want it, playing the music that I want to hear when I want to hear it, eating what I want to eat when I want to eat it, having more room in my closets and so on. You get the picture. Ask anyone my age (late sixties) who is divorced or widowed and you'll hear the same thing from many people.

But many of us do have one peculiarity. That is, we seem to think that we shouldn't cook just for ourselves every day. I'm one of those who thinks that way too. I usually cook just once a week and make up big pans of food for me to eat for the whole week. And in talking to others who are single and eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, many of them do the same.

When I think about that though, I have to ask the question: Why?

Is it any easier to cook for two people than it is for one? I don't think so. Is the cleanup any easier? There's twice as many dishes to clean up when cooking for two, but the cooking utensils should be about the same. There would be advantages on both of those items if both people share in the cooking and in the cleanup. Or if one cooks and one cleans up. Or if the couple alternates nights for cooking and cleaning up.

But from my strictly non-scientific observations, that's not the case with a lot of couples in my age group. And yet, two person households will still cook every night and one person households won't.

I think it must be in something subtler. And I think it has to do with sharing. It makes sense to cook for two because in doing so, we are creating something that pleases the other person. It makes us feel good to create something that pleases another person.

So, do those of us who are single miss out? Not necessarily. We just need to maintain wide social networks that allow us to share food that we make with others. If I make something especially good, I will share it with another person in our Eat Smart Live Longer Club, or I might share it with my daughter or with a friend. I'll take pictures too and post the pictures on Facebook or tweet about what I made on Twitter. I'll invite somebody over for lunch or dinner. I'll take it to a pot luck. And so on.

One of the advantages that we singles have too is that when something doesn't turn out good, nobody needs to know. We don't have a partner that we're all set to please with our latest creation, only to have that turn to a look of disappointment on our partner's face. We can experiment and make it better before we ever present it to anyone. Married couples can't do that because there has to be something for dinner tonight -- no matter whether or not it turned out good.

I'm still not sure of the answer to why we think it's easier to cook for two than it is to cook for one. But I do know that there are advantages and disadvantages to each. The main thing is to get out there and cook, whether you're single or married, have a large family or whatever. Cook together. Cook by yourself. Cook with the kids. Cook every day. Cook only once a week. Whatever works best for you. But do cook! It's healthier than microwaved meals and restaurant meals.