Lesson #73: What to Eat When You Eat Alone

by Rachel on March 21, 2011

Whether you’re attached or single, there will probably come a day when you need to dine alone. You could go out to eat alone, or you could just cook yourself a delicious meal to enjoy with…yourself.

Of course, any meal can be enjoyed alone, but some meals just feel right for some “me” time. Here are some things to look for in a recipe for one:

  • Something you know will make you really happy and satisfied. For me, this generally involves bread and cheese. I can quite often be happy eating just that for dinner, but other people don’t always see this as a “complete meal.” (And it’s not — it needs some wine and/or dark chocolate to be a complete meal.)
  • Something that can be made one serving at a time. I’m OK having enough ingredients to make it again tomorrow, but I like to actually to re-make it the next day.
  • …unless it works really well as leftovers! Sometimes I make a point to make two servings if it’s something I can easily re-heat for lunch the next day.
  • No matter what, the ingredients should be versatile! That way you can make the recipe one or two times and then use the ingredients in another way later in the week. (And bread and cheese are pretty damn versatile…just sayin’.)

Here are some of my favorite for-one meals!

Brie & Leek Bruschetta

This easy-but-fancy sandwich is the perfect way to make eating grilled cheese seem a little more chic. The recipe comes from Martha Stewart and it is downright addictive. Once I make it once, I crave it every day for the next couple weeks.

To make it for one, saute about 1/4 cup sliced leeks sprinkled with 1/4 tsp dried thyme in a teaspoon of olive oil. Top two slices of French bread with slices of Roma tomato and spread about two ounces of thinly sliced brie over the tomatoes. Top with the sauteed leeks and freshly ground black pepper and broil for 5-8 minutes.

Sausage & Pepper Bowl

sausage and pepper bowl

This is a go-to weeknight dinner for me because I can make a double serving and have the perfect lunch for the next day! It comes together really quickly, so it’s great to throw together after an evening workout. I usually buy pre-cooked sausage and let the frozen veggies thaw all day in the fridge and then drain right before cooking, but these steps aren’t necessary — everything will come together fast either way.

To make two servings, slice 6 to 8 ounces of pre-cooked nitrate-free sausage links. (You don’t have to use pre-cooked links, but that makes it even easier. And nitrate-free pork products are becoming more widely available — I always find them at HEB.) Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a pan and add the sausage, plus a bag of frozen peppers and onions. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper, and any other seasoning you have handy to give it some flavor. While the vegetables and sausage cook, stick a microwavable bag of rice in the fridge. (I usually get Uncle Ben’s, but Kashi has some great pilaf blends that work well too. Just keep an eye on the sodium on these — it can be totally out of control.) The rice only takes 90 seconds to heat up, so do it when the sausage and peppers are about done. Then put about 1/2 cup of rice in a bowl and top with the peppers and sausage. Then put another serving of rice, sausage, and peppers into a container for work the next day! Easy, filling, gets the job done quickly…just like I expect from my sausage. Heh.

Hot Caprese Dip

Surprise, surprise — the How Sweet Blog Hot Caprese Dip is another “wife me!” recipe. But it’s also a perfect “me time” recipe. (OK — it’s perfect for pretty much any situation.) I love tomato, basil, and mozzarella together, and these three ingredients — the only ingredients in this dip! — are pretty versatile.

When I made it last night, I also whipped up some quick chicken skewers to have with the dip, along with big chunks of French bread.

Chicken skewers are another great thing to eat when you’re eating alone because the extras can be used in salads or pitas, or you can just make a couple skewers and save the remaining chicken breasts for something else entirely. While the dip says it serves 2-4, trust me when I say you could easily kill it all by yourself with a few glasses of wine on a Friday night.

Of course I love cooking for others, but there is just something special about whipping up one serving of a delicious meal. Sure, you could make yourself a bowl of cereal or some eggs, but I like to put a little more effort into it. That way, it’s a treat for you and you alone.

Do you have go-to recipes that you like to eat when you eat alone?

{ 21 comments }

1 Chase [The Chase Project] March 21, 2011 at 8:48 am

That brie bruschetta looks fabulous! Then again, anything with brie gets a thumbs up from me. My go-to dinner for when I’m eating alone is Emily’s tofu in peanut sauce. It’s SO good. http://www.dailygarnish.com/2011/01/four-ingredient-healthy-peanut-sauce-tofu-marinade.html
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2 Dori March 21, 2011 at 8:51 am

Omg the caprese dip. Looks professional. I am craving this right now! I am always alone, all my meals are alone, and most consist of dipping my bread into my hummus.
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3 Jessica March 21, 2011 at 8:52 am

I never thought to put sausage & peppers over rice! Making that this week fo sho. Thx!
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4 Alli March 21, 2011 at 8:52 am

My go-to for eating alone is quinoa with sauteed mushrooms, onions and pepper…I never get to eat it when the bf and I cook together because he HATES it (something about the texture?), but it’s one of my favorite meals….especially covered in cheese lol.
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5 Cassie March 21, 2011 at 9:14 am

my fiance does almost all the cooking so when I’m alone I usually make something really simple (read: lazy) like an omelet or salad. or, I take the opportunity to make something he would be seriously grossed out by, like my famous roasted brussels sprouts with mayonnaise.

6 [SMASH] March 21, 2011 at 9:20 am

Oh my, that hot caprese dip looks phenom! I usually stick with pizza [because I love love love pizza] — low carb tortilla pizza, greek pizza on wheat bread, anything pretty small & easy.
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7 Melissa March 21, 2011 at 9:20 am

I eat alone almost always, so all of my recipes are for one. I completely agree with you on the leftover front. I would rather make it twice than reheat!

I have a ton of “Party of One” recipes up my sleeve, but paninis and salads are a couple of my go-tos. I especially like to do fresh mozzarella with raspberry jelly for the best panini ever! So yum!

8 ashleigh March 21, 2011 at 9:23 am

That caprese dip looks SO good… I need to make it ASAP!

Most of my meals are alone… I make a lot of veggie stir fry’s, pasta, salads… nothing too exciting :) I guess my favorite would be a pita pizza which I usually try and eat some variation of it once a week.
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9 Rachel March 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

YUM! Those are great for-one meals! The Caprese Dip looks especially spectacular. I might be weird, but I actually enjoy eating along…sometimes. I was in Miami last week, and I was forced to eat many of my meals all by myself like a big girl. It was relaxing in a way. Weird at first…but utterly relaxing. Some of my fave eat alone meals (when out) include sushi, salad with delicious bread, turkey burger and hummus & falafel plates/ anything Mediterranean. Quick, easy and delish.
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10 Eunice March 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

Caprese dip! That looks delicious. My go-to home alone meal is pizza. I want to put as little effort as possible into cooking (and cleaning, etc.) when Kohy isn’t around so I make a huge pizza one day and eat it for like 3 days.
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11 Rachael March 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

It’s like you speak to my current events or something … I’m going to be pseudo-single for the next 8 months (my husband took a job in your part of the states, so before I move my ass over there as well, I’m letting him work a little and get whole Texas big hair thing down first.) so I’ll be living alone, it big cold house with my damn dog. Eating for ONE.

For someone who cooks for two a fucking lot … I’m going to be stumped for single sister meals. Oh who am I kidding, I’ll eat bread and cheese by itself for dinner as well. Or chips and salsa and call it a night. (I’m really almost kinda sorta excited.)
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12 Lauren at Keep It Sweet March 21, 2011 at 11:27 am

Mmmm bread and cheese are the best combo! Sometimes when I eat alone I like to put an emphasis on my dessert instead and make ice cream my dinner.
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13 Megan@Dirty Dishes Daily March 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm

My alone time meal is always simple but a gulity pleasure….a Brie and avocado grilled cheese sandwich.

14 JaNelle March 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Love these recipe ideas. I’m cooking for the husband/man and myself. But I hate having a gagillion portions that we never really finish – one can only do leftovers so many times. I have sausage and peppers in the fridge now. Know what that means? Oh yeah, dinner is done! LOL Thanks

15 Michelle March 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I definitely just bookmarked this page. All three of these look and sound amazing. Good thing I live alone and can make them for myself anytime I want… on second thought, though, that could backfire if I start to make them all the time.
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16 Nicole March 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Yes, love this post dedicated to alone time. I make scrambled eggs/omelettes/egg and cheese sandwich, or meals that totally don’t go together like edamame, sweet potato, chocolate, and wine.
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17 Parita @ myinnershakti March 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Since I live by myself right now, I have plenty of go to meals! My favorite though is mac n’ cheese! It soothes the soul…LOL!
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18 caitie March 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Cereal!! haha

19 Phoebe March 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

There is a whole book about this subject! http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106281310

My most typical eating by myself at home food is frozen peas with whatever goat or shredded cheese I have around. Or mac and cheese with peas. My last year in college I had some variant of that for dinner probably every night besides those numerous nights when I had wine and toast for dinner (Dinner of Champions). That caprese dip looks awesome.

20 LauraJayne March 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I always like recipes where I don’t have to do a TON of math to figure out how to make a single-serving size! Ashley at Cooking for One (http://cookingforone.ashleylojko.com/) has the best single-serving recipes and always totally helps me out!
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21 diletta24 November 26, 2011 at 10:58 am

first time reading and commenting you. You sound great, and your lessons are amazing :)
what do I whip up for solo-dinner? I love polpette tofu (anyone bugging me about how tofu is flavorless…) and cherries mini tomatoes dipped straight into cottage cheese while watching tv crosslegged on my couch ;)

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