How To Make Dinner For One An Appetizing Endeavor

Question: I am living alone and have been having a hard time cooking for myself lately. I just can’t seem to get excited about cooking a big meal for one. It seems easier to have cereal with milk.

Answer: I cannot tell you the number of times that I hear this comment or one similar to it. It seems so easy for us to go out of our way to cook a large meal with all the necessary trimmings for those we love. However, when we cook for just ourselves, we make Peanut Butter and Jelly. It seems like too much work to cook a nice meal just for one.

I would first encourage you to pull out those old cookbooks and look at some of your favorite recipes. This will most likely bring back wonderful memories of times spent with family and friends.

You have found some favorite recipes in your cookbooks. I would then suggest you choose to make some of those recipes, maybe not such big portions. Once you have eaten, divide the leftovers and freeze them for meals in the future. If you do this once or twice a week, in a few weeks you would have a large array of alternatives to choose from in your freezer. If you find that you get fatigued with that much preparation, try doing some of the prep work earlier in the day, and then finish it up closer to dinner. Things like peeling potatoes, cutting up vegetables, or mixing up ingredients, can be done earlier in the day. Then closer to dinnertime the final preparation is less work and easier.

Another option is to get together with a group of others (singles and couples), and take turns cooking for each other or have a potluck dinner weekly. This will give you an opportunity to cook larger amounts and socialize with friends. You may also know someone like yourself who is having trouble with meals or making meals. In this case, you could make up the larger meal and then take half to that other person. This makes you feel good and gives them some wonderful home cooked food from someone who cares about their wellbeing.

Home delivered meals are always available and very convenient through Meals on Wheels. They provide up to two meals (one meal to heat up & one cold meal) if you would like, delivered to your house Monday thru Friday. They even have frozen meals available for the weekend if you would like. Meals on Wheels arrangements are made through NYConnects (753-4582). This option of Meals on Wheels is very affordable and delivered right to your door. It does not get more convenient than that. I will also say last week I was at an event and Meal on Wheels provided the food and it was very good!

There are also national versions of this service, like Mom’s Meals. These services are much more expensive, but can work for the right situation. These meals are ordered in advanced and shipped to your home, where you can freeze them or prepare them right away.

Another option is to try local establishments that you enjoy. Go out to eat, or get take out. When you do this, make the trip worth it, and buy more than one meal. That way you can have two or three different meals with each trip out. Eat one and save the others for another day, either in the fridge or in the freezer for future use. I would suggest any of our local restaurants for this idea. For example: Many local restaurants publish their menus online, or will give you a copy to keep. If you call ahead to order them, you can take them right home. I say ‘them’, because you may want to order more than one, and save the second one for later use. The catering service Elegant Edibles does a weekly menu and you can call to review it, or pick it up from them when you pick up your food. The cost for these meals is dependent on how much you get, but call them for pricing and more details. There are also local stores that now do nice take-out meals.

There is also the option of hiring help to come in and help you prepare meals or do grocery shopping. This hired help can also help do other projects within the home, vacuuming, spring-cleaning, laundry, and many other projects. This help that comes in also increases the amount of contact you have with others. This “socialization,” as we call it, helps you stay well and connected to the world around you.

There is also help available for these types of tasks through Office For the Aging by calling NY Connects. OFA has staff available that will help determine your eligibility for help within the home through state and county funding sources.

I would like to stress how important good nutrition is for your overall well-being. If you do not eat well, you do not feel well and do not have the energy your body needs to stay well and survive. Do not neglect yourself. You are worth the effort to cook a nutritious meal! Try one or all of these ideas, or some of your own to increase the diversity of your diet.

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with insurance questions or concerns, please call 720-9797 or e-mail at