Friday, January 15, 2010

Guest Post Friday: What Do You Eat When You Are Alone?

Hi Readers! I feel so honored to be kicking off the Won't You Be My Neighbor program! And I'm proud to be a friend of such a great blogger. Hope you enjoy!


My husband--a physician--is on call at least one night a week, which means, of course, that I might not see him until the next morning, when I roll over and realize that sometime during the night, he crept in between the covers. It also means that at least one night a week, I usually eat alone.

Last night was one of those nights. Hubs called around 7pm and alerted me that he was waist deep in work--he's thoughtful that way. I said I'd leave his dinner in the fridge. After hanging up, I lovingly made him a sandwich wrap with hummus, turkey, fontina, bibb lettuce and thin slices of red bell pepper. I cut it in half, put it on a plate with some juicy red grapes, covered it in plastic wrap, and placed it neatly in the refrigerator.

And then I ate a slightly over-ripe tomato, a tennis ball-sized scoop of cottage cheese (salted and peppered to death) and a glass of wine. And called it dinner.

This made me think of a book I just finished, called What We Eat When We Eat Alone, by Deborah Madison.

In Madison's book, which I found delightful, she learned a lot about the down and dirty stuff we eat when we eat alone. She also, interestingly enough, learned that men and women eat very different things when alone. Women, in particular, are loathe to cook for themselves. They eat leftovers, or cereal, or cookie dough. Although there are many reasons for this (hello? a night OFF from making dinner!) the reason that made me stop in my tracks was: Some women don't bother cooking for themselves because deep down, they don't really feel that they're worth the effort.

Bingo. But ICK! I don't like that reason at all, and yet that's my reflection looking right back at ya.

I'll painstakingly make my husband a yummy and healthy dinner, stow it away for him to eat when he gets home, and then eat dreck. And part of it's because it's no fun to cook for one, and part of it's because I am a lazy slob, and part of it's because I'm too cheap to throw away the stupid tomato that's thisclose to growing fuzz on it.

But part of it, if I'm honest, is because I figure: eh, it's just me, no need to bother.

If you need any further urging to read the book, consider the following passage:

People told us, though not nearly as often as we would have expected, that when left alone in their own kitchens, they resorted to eating cereal for dinner. A little cloud of shame seems to hover around the cereal eaters, as if they know they really could do better and perhaps should try...

Great stuff, right? And it's hysterical (and sometimes gag-inducing) to read what human beings feast on when nobody's there to scoff.

So without further ado, I will confess to my most popular go-to dinners when there are no witnesses. Well, our cat, Harryboy, knows, but he's not talking.

-a bowl of steaming basmati rice, topped with chopped tomato and slivers of red onion, topped with shards of very strong bleu cheese, salted and peppered. Sometimes with a drizzle of balsamic.

-bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado (the microwave thick-cut bacon, so don't go getting all impressed that I fried up fresh bacon) on a toasted english muffin

-any leftover about to go bad in the next day

-pimiento-jalapeno cheese from Whole Foods on toasted english muffin, topped with a tomato

-my comfort food: a big bowl of Uncle Ben's converted rice, buttered and salted to death

All kinda nasty and a little sad, but mine all the same. And now, brave readers, please share your own, if you dare. What do you eat--or have eaten in the past--when nobody was there to bear witness? I promise to laugh only a little.

*** Giveaway alert!*** If you post a comment/confession below, you will be eligible to win a 1-year subscription to Everyday Food Magazine, courtesy of TKW! I really like this magazine because the recipes are simple, fresh and delicious. And maybe, just maybe, you might not be stuck eating cereal for dinner again!

I have 10 recipes that I sift through each week. All of these recipes are in my head. Unfortunately, I quickly get bored of my menu. This then leads to copious amounts of fast food. To remedy this tragedy, I have started looking on-line for recipes. TKW and I found each other on a blog we mutually visit. While I don't normally haunt cooking blogs, her recipes are fantastic! Plus, she includes a story or fun snippet to accompany the dish. If you find yourself feeling sad and lonely because of your menu, hop on over to her blog! You will be entertained with her wit and salivate over her delicious recipes

Don't forget to meet other neighbors at Amy's blog


  1. Oh, TKW, these sound positively gourmet to me ... I often do sharp cheddar cheese with crackers, or else vanilla ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce. Or the kids' leftovers (mac and cheese being one of my favorite foods). Sort of tragic. I don't like the we-are-not-worth-it logic but it also resonates in a sad part of my brain.

  2. I am going to have to add this book to my list of must reads. The list is getting long. Better find a way to prioritize.

  3. Your 'lazy' foods you eat alone seem pretty gourmet to me! :) When I eat along, cereal is my go-to food, or else a fried egg sandwich on toast. Soooo sad. But I usually enjoy it, because as a rule, I don't enjoy cooking!

  4. LOL I want that book! Oh boy, when I'm alone I eat Top Ramen, Cream of Wheat hot cereal, sometimes I'll eat slices of cheese with pickles. The other night I ate a big bowl of peas with margerine and some salt. I'm also a big fan of just munching on horsdeorves. However that's really spelled. haha

  5. Ambrosia,

    Thanks for allowing me to occupy your space today. I love reading your words and feel honored that you asked me to guest post for you.

    Sunday night, if you'd email me the name of your randomly selected winner, we'll get the ball moving!

  6. TKW, when I don't have my husband around, I serve cheese, crackers, and lunch meat. And, maybe some soup.


  7. Kitch, I seem to be following your writing all over the blogosphere today. What a treat!

    Big Boy and I forage when Husband is not at home eating with us - lots of food that might be considered appetizers in quantities great enough to be called a meal. Cheese, crackers, nuts, hummus, baby carrots, bagel chips. And dessert. Always dessert.

  8. I'm kind of a pathetic eater. Big fan of really boring food: soybeans, boca burgers, and cottage cheese cups with fruit in them. Also, I can never think of anything inventive so I tend to think of the same thing every single day! Today? Boca burgers. God, I'm dull.

  9. I usually wind up with either a peanut butter and banana sandwich, bowl of soup, roast beef and a pickle spear wrapped in cheese (usually 2 of these), or a grilled cheese sandwich. Leftovers are always eaten first, but that's bc I hate waste.

    My favorite times to eat alone are when we have some money in our entertainment budget, but what I really love is to eat stuff no one else will: Indian, Thai, or Vietnamese food. Yum!

  10. Rice that is buttered and salted is like a little slice of heaven for me...mmm mmm mmm. I often go out to eat alone when I am alone for dinner. I love going out to eat. If I just can't bring my self to haul my butt out it is usually rigatoni and jar sauce. Ragu to be exact with sausage added, loads of parm and a big whopping dollop of ricotta! Oh and red wine of course.

  11. Having not eaten well enough for many years (as a single mom, making sure my boys ate, but then being too tired to worry about myself) - I paid a price later on. Maybe that's something we need to think about. Not so much an issue of weight, but of health. And mothers need energy. If we don't provide the right nutrition to ourselves, we start to break down.

    I eat alone much of the time (teens run everywhere...) These days, I use a more European approach. I have more energy earlier in the day. I will cook for myself at 1 or 2pm, very healthy and substantial. Then at 6 or 7 when feeding kids if there, I'll cook for them, and for me - a yoghurt would be fine. No kids around? Same thing. But I've cooked something healthy when I wasn't at the end of a crazy day. Only works if you're at home? Nope.

    When I have an in-office writing/marketing client, I make sure I eat WELL at lunch. Either prepare something from home early in the morning, or eat a healthy salad with salmon or chicken for lunch. Even if alone. Then at night - yep - yogurt. Or maybe some cereal. Uh, and a piece of chocolate.


  12. So interesting! I guess my reason for cooking a nice meal most nights of the week is to make my family (mostly my husband) happy. He likes to come home to a good, homecooked meal. I feel like I'm doing my "part". (Ugh, how 1940's of me). I don't NEED a big meal every night of the week though so when he's not coming home, not only do I enjoy the break fro cooking, but I enjoy sitting on the couch and eating a bowl of cereal. It just symbolizes relaxation to me! It's not really that I don't think I deserve a good meal... I just really don't need one!

    Great post!

  13. I usually eat leftovers when I'm alone. If there are none, I've been known to eat pizza rolls. I've even been known to count a box of oreo cookies for dinner. I don't enjoy cooking a lot of mostly do it for the family because they happen to enjoy not starving. If my husband wants a fancy meal, he knows he has to make it. I don't do more than a few ingredients per meal.

  14. I pop a bag of microwave popcorn ; ) Or I have some leftovers. I don't think it's that I think I'm not worth it, I just enjoy a break from cooking when I'm alone.

    Appreciate your thoughts.


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