Dinner for One

Getting adequate and proper nutrition is a problem for many seniors, for a number of reasons.  Financial difficulties are significant, and in today’s economy no doubt a widening concern.  Some people are not well-informed about nutrition and some don’t know how to cook.  Flagging appetites also have an impact.  If you can’t afford the groceries and you don’t feel like eating, why bother?  Make no mistake, cooking is a bother.  These days, on a limited budget, eating out is not a likely solution, at least not very often. Most often, what is convenient and affordable is a nutrition disaster.  The only restaurants within walking distance of my apartment are Wendy’s and Denny’s.

But, what is important to older people is our health.  Feeling good makes each day a precious, magical gift and feeling lousy physically makes life a complete drag.  I suppose this has always been the case, but it is just more obvious now, the great days being rarer and more precious.  When young, we also waste more time feeling bad psychologically although perfectly healthy physically.  School, jobs, and relationships can have that effect.  At any rate, to optimize the good days it makes sense, among other things, to eat our fruits and vegetables.

At one time I was quite a good cook.  More recently, I’ve enjoyed it less and lost the knack, somewhat.  But never, in all this long, food-filled lifetime have I prepared three meals a day, and for only one person – myself!  I have always cooked for an audience.  I did my best work for a table full of guests, but I whipped up a pretty mean candle-lit dinner for two as well.  If forced to eat alone, I would eat out at a nice lunch spot or, if worse came to worst, heat up a frozen dinner.  Now I set the table, cut up the greens, saute the fish, sit down and enjoy the meal solo.  Then I clean up the dishes and a few hours later I do it again.  Awkward at first, I am starting to get the swing of it.

When I was younger and cooking for a household, the meals I turned out, especially dinner, were square.  They included something from each of the basic food groups.  For example; fish, rice, squash, and salad.  Possibly dessert.  But I’ll be darned if I will cook four or five little portions of each thing for myself every evening.  Some people like to cook larger portions and reheat, but I have never been great with that.  The same meal every night for a week is quite a bore.  I find myself throwing away moldy bits of this and that and munching on a cookie.  Instead, I decided you don’t really need each of the food groups in one meal, it’s fine to have them in one day, thus, a salad for lunch and a turkey sandwich for dinner, or vice-versa.  This way, I need only cook one dish at any one time, and I can put time and attention into making it delicious.

Omelet with Goat Cheese and Chives

1 egg

1/2 c. milk

salt to taste

1/4 – 1/2 c. creamy goat cheese

1/4 cup chives, chopped

Beat the egg, milk, and salt together with a fork.  Set aside.  Heat the pan on high until hot, then lower the heat and pour in the egg mixture.  Sprinkle the chives and dollops of cheese on top of the egg.  When cooked solid on the bottom, fold the omelet in half.  Cook a little longer, then flip and cook the other side for about a minute.  Remove and serve.

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3 thoughts on “Dinner for One

  1. What an interesting irony you pointed out. When I was younger, I had vibrant health and a tortured psyche. Now I’m experiencing long stretches of equanimity and the wisdom to know that the occasional slip into the chasms between those stretches is nothing more than a fleeting feeling state and not an insight into existential hell.

    Meals definitely have become problematic as a solo boomer. I used to love to cook when it was my offering to others. Now, tho I continue to clip recipes and daydream over serving them at a dinner party, the reality that I live in a 294 sq. ft. senior apt. kind of dashes the fantasy. In my teeny-tiny scrap of a kitchen, just feeding myself and washing up afterwards becomes a chore. Moreover, I find myself bored with my food when eating alone and tend to take it the computer desk where I can amuse myself while munching. Why not, since I eat nearly the same easy to prepare but nutritious dishes every night. Shopping and cooking are easier when you’re in a rut, but the fun is definitely missing.

    I don’t have a solution except to be grateful that I have a steamer because, without it, I’d probably give up on the vegetables that are the cornerstones of good health. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that feeling good is an accomplishment at our age, and not a god-given gift. We’ve got to fight the ennui of self-care rituals and do what we can to keep vibrant. And that means not giving up on eating some version of real meals.

    1. Thank you, Lia, for your wise words. I have to second the notion of the importance of the steamer in keeping up a healthy diet when cooking for one. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Raw-foodists, of course, would disagree. I just can’t eat salad every day, though, especially in cold weather. If you have any simple recipes to share, I’d love to have them!

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