Why bother cooking at all?

Bobbie wrote me and told me that she was saving all my recipes in a nice three-ring binder, but that she hadn’t made any of them yet. And in fact she doesn’t do any cooking at all. She wrote: “I never cooked.  I never found the need since I had/have no husband, or children, or siblings, so all the reasons to cook a meal are not there for me.”

Well, I can think of a few reasons to make dinner, even if it’s just for one. Start by asking yourself these three questions:

Question 1:  “ARE YOU HAPPY?”

Are you happy with the way your life is going?  Great.  Or maybe somewhere along the line, the life you are living began to move away from the hopes you originally had. Is this the life you imagined for yourself?  Are you happy?  Because small adjustments can make really BIG changes in how you feel.
For example, what if dinner was the most important part of your day, cooking for yourself (or your family) because you wanted to. Making a simple, stress-free nourishing meal is one of the ways you take care of yourself and your loved ones. I was single twice in my life for longish periods of time, and I still made dinner. Yeah, sometimes I ate popcorn. But 3-4 times a week I made a real meal for one (or for two, and invited somebody over, or I had the rest for lunch).
One of the easiest ways to impress yourself is to put a simple, healthy dinner on the table. And then say “Yeah, I made this!”

If you’re not the one who is cooking your dinners, then I’d like you to honestly ask yourself if the food you’re eating is yummy. If someone is cooking for you, do you like what they’re choosing to serve you? Is the chicken cooked how you like it? Skin crispy, or boneless/skinless?
Everyone has their own food idiosyncrasies and if you’re cooking for yourself you can indulge them.  For example, I think olives are revolting and so I don’t cook with them. My sister doesn’t like orange flavoured food but is OK with lemon-y stuff.  André doesn’t put salt on anything, even hard boiled eggs.
So if you’re cooking for yourself, you can have it “your way.”  You can make what you like and you can cook it just-so.  (And really, one of the joys of cooking for only one, is that you can do weird things … like Gary who puts molasses on his corn-on-the-cob… and no one will raise an eyebrow).
I’m not talking about fitting into your skinny jeans.  And if you’re a gramma, you maybe want to have a bit of padding for cuddling grandkids.  I’m talking about being overweight.
Because if you have some pounds you’d like to lose, so that you can be living that happy life we were talking about above in Question #1, then cooking for yourself is the greatest idea. You can remove that chicken skin, you can cook with low fat ingredients, you can control your own portions, you can add a ton of veggies to that beef stew so that there’s more carrots and mushrooms than meat. You can put fennel and apple and leeks and chicken broth in the oven and braise them until you have a great side for fish.

So, here’s what I would say.  Collect recipes, do your research, and take your time.  Then ask yourself the questions above:  Are you happy?  Is the food you’re eating now fantastic?  Do you have any weight you’d like to lose?
If you’re doing OK with all of these, then maybe cooking just isn’t for you.  But let me know if you think you could be happier, eating more yummy food, and a few pounds lighter.  ‘Cause I’ve got a few ideas on how you could make that happen 🙂

All best,


1 Laurel

Hi, Shelley,

I agree with you! Cooking for yourself is a wonderful way to nurture yourself. I am single. Actually, a widow. My husband and I used to cook together; in fact, our first real date was going grocery shopping together (what fun!) to buy ingredients for split pea soup which we then made together and ate together. It was one of the ways we knew we would be good as a couple living together, because we really enjoyed the mundane stuff of making a meal.

So, when he died, cooking for myself was a way to honor our friendship and to insure that I would continue to be good to myself the way he was good to me:)

Many times, I cook for a group of people. I am a teacher at the School of Metaphysics and we have classes and group teachers meetings that last a day, or a weekend. Our schools are in houses with kitchens, so we can make the meals a part of the class or meeting. Sometimes around the lunch or dinner table, the learning is even more profound than in the classroom because people are relaxed. Sharing physical food seems conducive to sharing spiritual food and knowledge as well!

The point of this is that I enjoy eating alone and eating in a group. I enjoy cooking for just me (I happen to LOVE olives, so I can eat as many as I want when alone; some other people, like you, don’t like them) and I also enjoy cooking for a group. The variety is nice. When I am cooking for just me, I can also experiment with recipes or food combinations. I don’t like to experiment on other people but I’m fine experimenting on myself!

Maybe if Bobbie viewed cooking as a creative endeavor as well as a social endeavor, she might have a purpose for cooking for herself alone.

Thanks for the inspiration,

2 Bev

I cook for myself, but mostly do so on the weekend so I will have healthy lunches for my workweek. I used to take Healthy Choice frozen meals EVERYDAY. After reading what several fitness professionals have said about how bad this frozen ‘fast food’ is, I vowed to change what I eat for lunch everyday. I have been experimenting with easy crockpot recipes and other recipes that do not take a lot of time.

I usually don’t cook for my dinners though except on weekends. I prefer to keep it simple and light after I get home from work.

3 Rena

Shelley, this is a VERY profound article.

You perfectly articulated the dreams I’ve given up on and the resulting dissatisfaction I’m feeling. AND, you’ve given me a vision I can get my head along with a motivation I can get my heart around. (Have you been spying on me AGAIN?)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You are a brilliant GENIUS!!!

Like a person who is badly injured and needs to re-learn how to walk, I’m looking forward to re-learning how to cook so that I may truly LIVE.

In gratitude,

4 Shelley (Head Tomato)

Rena, you’re welcome! You may find it interesting to know that i originally wrote the first draft of this in February 2008, just two months after I launched One Roast Vegetable. Looks like i was talking about motivation and taking care of YOU right from the very beginning! Glad it’s inspiring to you. I’m not a genius. I just listen to my genius clients!

~ all best, me

5 Jaycee

Very good point ,I like to cook just don’t like to cook always for one and it shows in my weight. But I do like your recipes..they got me thinking chicken and more meals then one. So I buzz around on a very slow system to get inspired to do more but can get lazy and unless I am reminded by a e mail or something as I don’t have a lot of drop by company living rural..on a light note though Shelly your motivation gig from Paris..made me sign up for a Digital Photography Class in March for a week to test the waters as to what I can do sitting in a wheel chair to achieve happiness to get the rest of my life organized better so that I can be a better person to let the good in invited not just waiting for it to happen in my life. thanks

6 Esther

I too find it a challenge cooking for one. I do have a husband and teenage son but neither are home for supper very often and they seldom eat leftovers. So – too much take out food becomes supper. I have a number of frozen leftover meals in my freezer but just don’t think of using them at supper time. Need to change my habits all around! Shelley your classes get me thinking and making small changes at least. Thanks!

7 Eleanor

Would love more lowfat recipes, am trying to lose weight as am really overweight and altho I am trying hard and have lost 4kgs so far need to lose a heap more!
If I have low fat recipes and yummy ones know I will keep itr up!’
Thanks for the opportunity ans will watch your website with great interest!!
Thankyou Shelley
I dont think it was me but ok will just watch for those recipes.
Thanks again

8 Eleanor

I may have asked this before Shelley but enjoy all the low fat recioes I cn get my hands on.
Thanks and keep up the good work! You are marvellous!
II like a wine or two and would appreciate any ideas on some nice drinks that are calorie free or almost apart from diet lemonade ore diet coke.
Thanks again


9 Jill

I’m single and a caregiver for my elderly mother. I’ve been cooking since I was six and greatly enjoy it. My mother never has problems with me eating my veggies or just about anything else, for that matter! I’ve entered a few cooking contests in the past too. My eating habits have changed over the years and as a result, I’m a partial vegetarian. I love farmers’ markets, and use a lot of organic and locally-grown products. I cook on the weekends because my weeks are busy. The crockpot is a good friend.

I bother with cooking because I view it as a creative outlet and opportunity to experiment with food. It allows me to make sure what I prepare is healthy and good-tasting. And as it’s been said previously, it’s a good social outlet when preparing meals with friends.

10 Mary

I have to say that for the past three months I have been cooking real meals for just myself and a six year old and it has been the best thing for us. I have lost almost fifty (50) pounds buy eating at home, and eating healthy foods. Up until November of 2010 we ate pizza, pasta, potatoes, lots of bread and take out meals several times a week because that was the way my husband wanted to eat. After he left we stopped eating out and we started eating meat and veggies. We still eat potatoes and pasta but now it is much smaller amounts and always with lots of veggies. We also have started shopping at our local health food store until summer when I will stock up on stuff from the farmers market. I have started to use my crock pot and when I do I split the meals up and put them in the freezer to have for days where we are in a hurry. If my husband ever comes back we will not go back to our old way of eating because I feel so much better about myself and my health is better.

11 Lisa Lewey-Shields

I agree with Eleanor and would like more low-fat recipes but I would also like low sodium or no sodium recipes. My fiance and I are very over weight and have struggled with “dieting” and sticking to it. Now we are not really watching too close with the calories or the sugars but watching the carbs and the salt. By doing so, the calories and the sugars are way below the daily limits. This way is very easy to follow and work each day. Sodium is the #1 demon in foods. By limiting our sodium, we are staying within our limits but do allow ourselves to break it and have a meal here or there from our favorites. We are staying away from canned, boxed, process foods. Fresh or out of the garden works best. We have found that there is no restaurants that have low sodium so we have cut our eating out tremendously. Thank you in advance for the low fat and low sodium recipes. Good luck Eleanor !

12 Cindy

I cook all our meals except when my husband takes me out to eat. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to. But I’ll do it as long as I can.

13 Barbie in Melbourne

Eleanor, a “Good Health Foods” magazine that we can get at the checkout at supermarkets here in Australia recently had an article that explained that one glass of white wine was the equivalent of a slice of ham and cheese pizza! Knowledge is power. Be aware of everything you put it your mouth – it ALL makes difference. Perhaps turn your glass of wine in to a “spritzer” … by *gradually* working up to adding up to 50% fizzy water (we call it soda water here, completely unsweetened carbonated water, a bit salty, I don’t know what it would be called in the States).

I also had a “revelation” recently when I got out the calculator, and actually worked out how many calories I would be getting if I ate the whole bag (8oz) of “jelly jubes” – which I had been eating more and more of, as I sat in front of the telly, at 5pm when my blood sugar was low at the end of the day… well to my HORROR IT WAS 700 CALORIES. Zero % fat, but 700 calories of sugar. I reckon they need a big obvious square on the FRONT of every packaged food item saying something like: “If you consume this entire packet, you will have eaten 700 calories.” or, “This one cookie contains 17 grams of fat.” Again, knowledge is power! Good luck!

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