Vol. 4, No. 3
Making meals enjoyable
when dining solo
Eating alone can dampen an appetite when someone is facing
changes in lifestyle due to widowhood, divorce, or leaving home.
Eating meals together provides a warm, social interaction that isn’t there
when you begin to dine alone. Here are some steps to boost your appetite and put
joy back into mealtime.
Eat healthfully, but simply.
It is not necessary to prepare gourmet meals everyday, but do include the
basics. A simple breakfast includes a dairy food, grain, and fruit.
Don’t cook at all. A bagel, orange juice and yogurt make an
easy, no-cook breakfast.
Cook simply. Foods that can be easily adapted for a single serving
include a scrambled egg, French toast for one, or pancakes from a mix.
Stock your freezer. Consider baking and freezing your favorite
recipes as an alternative. Bran muffins, blueberry muffins, and waffles freeze
well. A single muffin can be thawed and warmed in the microwave as needed.
Freeze banana bread in individually wrapped portions.
Dine on leftovers. Who says breakfast must be traditional eggs or
cereal? A healthy breakfast can be made from leftover pizza, meatloaf, or
stir-fry. Add juice or fruit and a dairy food for a complete meal.
- Snack on fruits and whole grains. A banana, fresh orange, bunch of
grapes, box of raisins, or wedge of melon requires little or no preparation. A
bowl of cereal and milk makes an easy, healthful snack. Graham crackers,
vanilla wafers, bagels and cinnamon toast are healthy choices. Store fruit
where you can easily see it. Tempt yourself. Store prepared fruit in in clear
containers in the refrigerator within easy sight.
Lunch & supper options:
- Burgers and sandwiches are simple to prepare. Round out the meal with
a green salad, baked beans, three-bean salad, sliced fruit, or fresh tomatoes,
zucchini, and bell pepper salad.
- Cook once. Eat twice. A roast gets a second appearance as roast beef
sandwich, beef and vegetable stew, or soup. Roast chicken breast reappears as
chicken and vegetable stir-fry, or creamy chicken casserole.
Bring entrees to the table two or three times. Prepare and
enjoy chili and vegetable soups today. Wrap leftovers in individual portions,
label, date and freeze for an easy meal next week.
- Consider carryout meals from your local restaurant or favorite grocery store
deli. Buy a salad for one. Experiment with store-bought low-fat,
low-sodium frozen entrees, and canned low-sodium soups. Not every meal must be
prepared at home.
- Think healthy. Try to include a grain, protein, vegetable and fruit
in each meal. Use dairy foods several times a day. Add cheese to sandwiches
and entrees. Make hot cocoa with milk instead of water. Snack on pudding and
- Equip yourself. You are more likely to cook if you have equipment
suitable for preparing small portions. Buy a few cooking utensils suitable for
cooking for one or two such as:
- single serving non-stick skillet
small sauce pot for one- dish meals
- several single serving, sealable containers or casseroles that go from
freezer to microwave
- clear, sealable containers for leftovers
new cookbook with recipes for one or two.
Set the stage for pleasant dining:
Use pretty placemats, flowers, or a
favorite basket or craft. Pamper yourself. You deserve a pleasant meal.
- Decorate your dining area.
Turn on relaxing music, or dine in front of the television for
company. (This is the opposite of what we tell families at mealtime when
we are trying to encourage healthy eating and family communication.)
Change where you sit and dine. Often sitting at the table will remind
you of your lost spouse. Sit in your spouse’s place. Eat on the patio for a
Invite one or more friends to join you for lunch. Cook together, try new
recipes or share potluck. Make the entrée and invite others to bring bread,
salad and dessert.
Organize a dining club. One group of friends has a standing
"date" to meet and eat every Tuesday at the local steak house or
Join a church, singles, senior, or civic club. Many organizations have
speakers and lunches one day a week. This is a way to find great conversation
for dining. Ask a friend or acquaintance to go with you the first time.
Exercise every day. Walk, jog, dance, or swim. Moderate exercise can
boost your spirits and improve appetite.
Give yourself time. Learning new skills and new dining techniques takes
time. Practice will eventually bring renewed pleasure.
[Source: Freezing Prepared Foods, Extension publication
GH1505, University of Missouri Extension.]
Mary Schroepfer, MED