little background on me before I jump in…
Julie and I have been best friends since 9th grade… yeah, that’s a long time ago (thanks for reminding me). We both swam and were in the band (I swear it was cool where we went to high school). After high school, we both attended Penn State, then found ourselves in Chicago where Julie was working and I was getting my Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (business psych). It was great to have her and Shaun as staples there for me. I still shiver thinking of those Chicago winters!
Here we are in one of our finer State College (post-Mad Mex) moments!
Cooking for one is something that I’ve had some experience in over the years. While I was in grad school I was fending for myself almost every night. Now, Jason has been traveling quite a bit over the last 4 months for his job. While you won’t find any gourmet-inspired meals here, my regular eats might spark an idea for you when you find yourself solo for an evening or two! A few things I consider:
How Many Nights?
Sometimes I plan out meals for myself based on how long I know I’m going to be solo. Can I make something that will last two/three nights instead of one? Think: veggie lasagna, casserole, soups, etc. You might have to factor in how much time you have in an evening to prep, so if you know the weekend before that your roommate/significant other is going to be traveling, you can plan ahead and do some prep work then.
Is there something I’ve been craving?
Has there been something that your body has been asking for that you haven’t had in a while? One thing I’ve learned is that if you are craving something and that craving lasts beyond a day or two, give in to it! Don’t try to replace it with something else. This is also great if you happen to be wanting something that your main squeeze isn’t a fan of. Seafood? Grab a salmon filet or a sushi roll! Thai? Spicy pad thai on the way! Veggies? Helloooo roasted cauliflower and asparagus.
Am I feeling lazy/in need of comfort food?
There are going to be some nights/weeks where we all just need to curl up on the couch and veg out. When I am totally wiped out, or am in need of comfort food, I immediately reach for a baked potato. They are nutritious and filling (especially if you eat the skin)! I usually top mine with salt, pepper, garlic powder, a little butter and cottage cheese. Mmm. (And of course there are those nights that all you want is a bag of popcorn. I have totally been there. Throw some olive oil and a little Parmesan cheese on top, and no one has to know it was your dinner. ;) )
So here are the things I eat on a regular basis when I’m alone (apologies for repetitions from above):
Chicken pasta – baked chicken breast with your choice of pasta, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and some sort of cheese (parmesan or crumbled goat cheese are my go-tos…). I will usually throw in edamame if I have it in the freezer, too.
Baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes – top with your favorites!
Soup – I like to make big batches of soup and freeze a lot in single-serving containers, which makes for great lunches as well!
Black Bean burgers – excellent for some fiber, protein and obviously if you are a Meatless Monday or meatless everyday fan!
Guacamole – I love guac and chips and salsa. Great appetizer or when paired with something else small for dinner.
Roasted cauliflower, broccoli and asparagus – Jason isn’t a fan of cauliflower or broccoli, so I always take advantage and make those for myself when he’s gone. I will usually make more than I can eat in one sitting so that I can take it for lunches as well.