Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cooking

I wonder if it is just me or is it really different to cook for one?

I mean, I have been cooking for two for the past twenty plus years.  How different should it be to cook for one less?

I had supper with my friend Ginnie last Sunday night and she confirmed that it does seem harder to cook for one.  She said that she wastes a lot of food that she buys with good intentions but ends up leaving in the refrigerator too long.  I think that has a lot to do with the fact that she is still working.  I can remember the nights I would come home from work too tired to cook.  We would have sandwiches or Mike would suggest taking me out.

We cut way, way back on the eating out in retirement.  Mike got more involved in cooking too.

And people seem concerned about someone newly faced with cooking for herself alone.  I have been asked often in the past few months, "Are you eating?"  The answer to that is certainly, yes.  I do like to eat.  And I like to eat "healthy" so I eschew most packaged and processed food.  I keep frozen broccoli and spinach on hand, canned tomatoes, and cartons of vegetable or chicken stock (mostly reduced sodium).  That is not new.

Here are the major difference I am noticing:

1.  I shop less often.  I do not run out to the store to get the special bread that would compliment my meal so nicely.  I eat the bread I have and think about getting the special bread for the next week.

2.   I spend less money.  That is a function of not shopping as much--reduces the impulse buys if you are not in the store--and buying less.  I used to buy a variety of fruits and vegetables for the week.  Now I buy one or two vegetables that I use in different ways through the week.  I do not eat any where near the amount of fruit that Mike did so I don't buy too much of that at all.

3.   I eat way less meat and way more grain and bean dishes with vegetables.  That is a good thing for me.

4.  I eat a less varied diet.  If I cook brown rice and I bought carrots, they are going to show up in several meals over the week's time.

5.  Paradoxically, I eat a more varied diet in the sense that I choose a much wider variety of vegetables than Mike would ever eat.  I experiment with recipes more.

6.  In spite of the pared down shopping, I do less planning.  Mike liked to eat, but he was also kind of fussy and he wanted to know what we were going to have ahead of time (sometimes so he could plan on making himself a hot dog instead).  I know what I have on hand, but I can be creative about how to use that and at the end of the week there is soup--very creative soup.

7.  I don't linger over a meal with conversation and a glass of wine.  That is not such a good thing.  Although, God knows, I do tend to yabber on to Mike.  Out loud.  Crazy alert.  But believe me, he does have a way of answering when I really need him to.

Now having said that, I did have a meal and a glass of wine with Ginnie on Sunday.  My son was here for dinner tonight.  No wine, but we had chicken enchiladas and chocolate chip cookies that Ginnie sent home with me all ready to pop into the oven.   I made a broccoli slaw and there was plenty of conversation.

I am still sad, but I do not feel sorry for myself.

24 comments:

  1. Olga, I think you are a very psychologicially sound person... emotionally and physically strong. Your last sentence, " I am still sad, but I do not feel sorry for myself" says a lot. And it means so much to have a strong support group (family and friends) around you at this time... which you obviously have. : )

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    1. Yes, I am so very grateful for my family and firends.

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  2. Another thing to be grateful for, Olga: You don't have dementia. I am so glad you are independent mentally and physically. Stay well, okay?

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  3. The Mr used to work shifts, and my evening meal was often spent alone.... I either ate tuna fish sandwiches or a can of soup. Not much of a cook for myself. I'm so glad to hear you are making sure you are eating healthy!!

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    1. I do love tuna, but I never eat canned soup. For me, soup is a clean out the refrigerator meal I do up on the weekend.

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  4. You are doing great. If I was not taking three meals a week at the senior center, I would not be getting any balanced meals. $3.50 includes salad, (sometimes soup) entree, dessert and drink plus the company of others The rest of the time I scrounge around in the freezer for something or maybe go out to eat at the casino.

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    1. The social component is important, but I am not generally comfortable in a larger group--senior center, retired teachers, homeowners assn. potlucks (FL). I think it is the result of high school cafeteria trauma.

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  5. You are doing great with cooking. I cook for myself two days a week when my wife goes to take care of her mother, and it is usually peanut butter toast or a grilled hotdog if I am ambitious. Here lately I have been experimenting with various steamer veggies. Some of those are pretty good, and even an idiot like me can slap them in the microwave. I can get away with that for two days a week. So I (in my infinite culinary wisdom) think you are doing peachy with the cooking.

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    1. Mike never had a problem fixing something for himself if I had a craving for something he did not eat (like spaghetti, who does not eat spaghetti?) My father would have starved if my mother did not cook every meal and snack for him just as a matter of principle. I thought that was annoying.

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  6. You're a lot more creative with single meals than I. When I'm alone, I just grab something on the go, and it's not always healthy. Being sad is a human emotion and not a bad thing, and I do believe you're grieving in a healthy way.

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    1. Living in a rural area prevents me from easily grabbing take-out so the temptation is taken out of the equation.

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  7. I envy you your culinary creativity. No matter how many or few I cook for, I don't like doing it and I'm not imaginative.

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    1. We all have our unique areas of creativity. I was a late bloomer in the cooking department.

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  8. You are an inspiration! It is no small thing to be able to truly take good care of yourself while grieving. You must know that Mike is proud of you.

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    1. Mike is smiling down on me. I feel that everyday. It doesn't make the process easier, but it does help to make it tolerable.

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  9. I was impressed with your last sentence also. We can be OK with out being Fine.
    I am like you with the carrots and rice and tend to make a large amount and eat it for several days. I also will cook things that I can freeze single portions of for those days when I'm in a hurry. I think you are doing quite well. Don't be afraid to think out of the box and try new stuff.

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  10. You are so OK and well on your way. You are a model of healthy living. All the best. Cheers from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

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  11. I have often wondered how I would cook for just one. I cook full dinners almost every evening, but I know I would not do that for just me. Like you, I would eat a lot less meat, for one thing.
    But I don't know if I would be as good as you are.

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  12. I love that you have long conversations with Mike. I bet he enjoys it, too.

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  13. I want you to know that you are An Inspiration to me.
    Truly.

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    1. Thanks, June. I am just struggling along as best as I can.

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  14. My mother said the same thing to me after my father passed away. She ended up cooking her meals and sharing with the neighbors which I'm sure they enjoyed. I am amazed at your strength and peace, Olga. Our tai chi teacher lost his wife a few months ago and at the end of class he told us that he wanted us all to know he was all right. He missed his wife, but he says he knows she's no longer in pain and in a better place. He said he was preparing us for what we would all have to endure some day. It was sobering, but beautiful.

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  15. When you have a lot of interests and are busy, food is not necessarily a priority and one's interest it may be minimal when you are only catering for yourself. Fascinating that a lot of us women would eat a lot less meat if on our own. I certainly wouldn't miss it. Great that you talk to Mike. I would do the same. All the time.

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