Sunday, September 17, 2006

Table for One

Okay, so I have once again reaffirmed the notion that being single sucks. I base this conclusion not on the lack of a default sex partner, or frustration of the search for that nebulous and ultimately amorphous concept of "companionship" or "togetherness." I reach this conclusion because, as legions of single people before me have learned and I keep having to re-learn every time I get even remotely ambitious, cooking for one is well nigh impossible.

Well, at least for me.

In theory, cooking for one is not terribly difficult: gather the ingredients for one dish, make it, then save the rest for later. There are, though, several flaws to this idealistic approach.

First: The temptation to eat the entire thing -- whatever it may be -- at one meal is great. Especially for me, because I'm one of those eat-because-I'm-bored kinda people. If I actually get off my ass and make, say, a pasta salad for dinner, the result is that there is a large stash of pasta salad sitting around my kitchen. Which means that after I finish that first bowl, I have a tendency to go back to the kitchen and grab myself a second bowl. Repeat cycle through prime time, and suddenly that huge stash of pasta salad is significantly reduced.

Okay, so no, I don't ever actually eat an entire box of pasta (gussied up with "healthy" additions), but that's usually because of the next reason, which is

Second: If I don't actually eat the whole thing at once, I get bored with it so quickly I really would prefer not to have it again the next day, either for lunch or dinner. No really, when I make pasta salad, it's whole box of pasta, plus stuff. That can last three or four lunches. Have you any idea how boring that is? Especially since, when you bring your lunch into work, you have a little bit less of a reason to set foot outside the office come lunch hour. Which means I usually end up in the office, taking my food out of the fridge, and eating at my desk, which further exacerbates the boredom of eating leftover food to begin with.

Third: Many items required for some recipes aren't sold in single-serve units. Fresh basil, for example. Celery stalks. Lettuce. Asparagus. Seasoned salt. Cuts of meat, poultry or fish. So you end up buying way more than you need just to add it to this one dish you wanted to try, and the rest ends up rotting away. Well, not the seasoned salt; it just sits around waiting for the next time you struggle desperately to find something to put it in. Banana extract? I've had a bottle for three years now. I only ever use maybe six stalks of asparagus at a time (and I use that many just to use them), but still the rest of the bunch ends up going bad. And what's the purpose of buying fresh meats from the butcher counter if half of what you buy ends up in the freezer anyway?

The other day I had the thought that I'd make myself burger(s) for food for a while. Just thinking about it made my head hurt knowing how much I'd waste. I could buy fresh ground meat -- maybe half a pound -- which would make for two quarter-pound burgers. But the buns would come in a pack of six or eight. That's a bit much. Then there's the fixings. I'm not terribly worried about the ketchup, but it's hard to buy just enough lettuce for the top of two burgers. You end up with a lot more than you want. And tomato? Buy one decent sized one, and half of it ends up on the burger while the other half rots in the fridge. Oh, and don't forget about the egg and bread crumbs or onion soup mix or whatever it is one chooses to use to bind the meat before grilling. Grrr.

I once had this idea that I would bake once in a while. Banana bread; peach cobbler; apple pie. Sounds like fun, right? Nah. Takes a bunch of effort, and it is just NOT a good idea for me to have entire pies sitting around my apartment smelling so damn good with me the only person around who could possibly eat them.

Okay, I'll admit that a greater concern for me is that oftentimes I'm simply too lazy to cook at home to begin with. But when I'm not, it's tough. I feel like I need to find some man to settle down with, if for no other reason than we can plan our weekly grocery shopping together then share our meals. Perhaps that way less food would go to waste, and less money would be spent on things never eaten.

Thankfully, I can get bonus miles for using my credit card at certain eating establishments.


sassyassy said...

Omigod! You have so brought back the singular nightmare of living alone...the leftovers, the agony of finding single servings. I stumbled onto your blog and I will be back!

Ang-ang said...


anne said...

Agreed. Single-cooking sucks.
Having said that, the lettuce and tomato that are left over from the burger could easily become a side salad...

Kristin said...

I've just stopped eating regularly or making a dinner of cereal and yogurt. It's kind of sad.

Dennis! said...

Kristin: By sheer coincidence, before reading your comment, I hit the Safeway and ended up buying a carton of milk and a tub of cottage cheese to (separately) use with my Grape Nuts... for dinners!

Sub Girl said...

that pasta salad looks good, though. i've forgotten about making pasta salads!

mysterygirl! said...

I tried to comment on this yesterday, but the word verification wasn't working.

Anyway, I agree with this on all counts. Maybe we should start some kind of a supper club, because I'd rather cook for four than semi-cook for myself. Otherwise, I end up wasting a lot of food, or eating a bunch of crap in order to avoid cooking.

Drew said...

Yup, I'm with you...and damn, that pasta salad looks good!

Dennis! said...

I think y'all have inspired me to make pasta salad when I get back from my trip this week.

MG: If you're up for it, I'm up for it. I make a killer salmon.

Vince said...

It's so true! I have often thought of going into business and creating "single serving" items that can be sold in a grocery store. The single should suffer no longer!


Freudian Slip said...

It does really suck doesn't it? You just want to be careful that you don't fall into a deep slump where you aren't taking care of yourself nutritionally. Stay positive and hopeful for the future!

Dennis! said...

Epilogue: During my visit with my parents and aunts and uncles this weekend, the following conversation occurred around me:

Uncle: So do you cook at home, or do you eat out?
Mom: Look at him! Does he look like he cooks? Of course he eats out a lot, that's probably how he got as big as he is!
Uncle: Actually, I'm not surprised. I wouldn't cook if I were single. Cooking that much for one person? It's just easier to go buy stuff.

I don't usually agree with my uncle, but he nailed it here.

Steven said...

You've really thought this through, haven't you?