secret single behaviour – how to get excited about cooking for one

cavalo nero

It’s been a while since I last watch an episode of Sex and the City but I’ve found that since I joined the ranks of the newly single, I’ve been thinking about the show from time to time

The episode that has stuck in my mind is where Aiden has moved into Carrie’s apartment. This causes Carrie to start quizzing everyone on what she calls their ‘secret single behaviour’ – the quirky habits they fall into when they’re on their own.

Carrie admitted to eating saltine crackers in the kitchen standing up while reading fashion magazines. Which also got me thinking about cooking (or at least the eating) habits of singles.

A lot of people say they can’t be bothered cooking when they’re on their own. It’s a bit harder to get motivated when you don’t have someone to share the fruits of your labour. But for me, cooking for myself is one of my favourite things. It rare for me to feel sad or lonely in my kitchen.

So I thought that this week I’d share with you my favourite secret single recipe and the things I do to keep motivated to cook when it’s just one for dinner.

embrace your favourite foods
If there’s something you love – that get’s you excited just thinking about it. Make sure you put it to the top of the menu list.

For me it’s things like brussels sprouts, asparagus and beetroot. But it changes with my mood and the seasons. Tinned sardines are really doing it for me of late.

make dinner time a special treat
Making dinner time a reward rather than a chore is an easy way to help get motivated to cook. Start thinking of it as time to relax and unwind while you’re chopping and stirring. Put on some good music and pour yourself a glass of wine. Make the most of this time to yourself.

set the table to set the scene
Even when I’m eating solo I still set the table with proper cutlery and a serviette, light some candles and if I had a TV, I’d turn it off. By treating doing the same things that I would if I had company, I feel like less of a loser eating on my own.

play the use-what’s-in-the-fridge game
This is one of my favourite secret single tricks. No need to stop in to pick something up on your way home from work. Just open the fridge – pull out a few ingredients and see where the evening takes you.

don’t scrimp on quality
It’s easy to think ‘It’s just for me – no need to spend extra on getting the best’. Trust me, using inferior ingredients and having a disappointing meal is one sure way to make solo cooking inspiration vanish.

halve your recipes
I’m a girl who loves variety, especially in what I eat. So making a big batch of something and then having to eat it day in day out is not very appealing. To overcome this I either freeze the excess or halve the recipe. Which mostly works well, except for the time I forgot to halve the chilli but halved everything else(!)

use it as a chance to experiment.
When you’re cooking for yourself the performance pressure is off and it’s the perfect opportunity to explore new recipes and techniques. While I’m happy to try new things when I’m cooking for others – it’s only when I’m feeding myself that I risk my truly ‘out there’ ideas.

I’d love to hear your secret single cooking behaviour – what inspires you to cook for one?

cavalo nero

wilted greens with parmesan
serves 1

My favourite greens for this dish are either kale or cavalo nero (also known as Tusan cabbage) but it’s also lovely with plain old spinach or silverbeet.

It is one of my all time favourite single gal meals. Quick and easy and so so good for you. It’s also surprisingly versatile.

The cheese can be substituted with all manner of things. Sometimes I poach an egg, or just toast some pinenuts to sprinkle on top. If I’m craving a fish hit I’ve also been known to toss through a can of sardines – but I appreciate this isn’t for everyone.

It can also be a great way to use up leftover ragu or even risotto.

2T olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely sliced
1 bunch or about 4 large handfuls cavalo nero (or other greens – see note above)
1/2 lemon
1 handful grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large frying pan or saucepan over a medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until it just starts to brown. Add greens and stir fry until just wilted. Remove from the heat. Squeeze through a little lemon juice.

Serve on a warm plate with parmesan sprinkled over and extra lemon on the side.

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