Eating alone

When Alex works late (quite often), I like eating dinner alone at home. I cook up extra-cheesy scrambled eggs, or pour myself a glass of white wine and toss together a big salad with tomato, olives, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and avocado.

So, this week, I was happy to spot this book, which features essays on eating alone, by twenty-six great writers (including Amanda Hesser and Nora Ephron, two of my faves). I’m excited to hear about the “secret meals they make for themselves when no one else is looking.” What do you make when you’re all alone?

  1. Vegemite/marmite on a buttered once toasted crumpet with a slice of tomato, ground pepper, basil leaves and then topped with cheddar cheese and grilled for approx 5 minutes. Yummy!

  2. I really like baked steak fries for dinners alone. It’s hardly cooking, but still yummy!

  3. I just saw this…the title, if someone hasn’t pointed it out, is the title of a famous essay (& chapter) by the late, great Laurie Colwin. The chapter is in her wonderful Home Cooking, A Writer in the Kitchen. Read it: you won’t be disappointed.


  4. I love vegetables, rice, eggs… and often try to combine them in a meal. Today I’m eating a big salad with curly endive, scamorza (a sort of smoked mozzarella), black grapes from my parents’ garden.

  5. This would be such a great book.. Cooking for 1 might be the hardest thing. I think grocery stores should make packages of food for single eaters. Stir-fry for one, pasta for one, veggie packs for one.

  6. Your home alone meals sound amazing. I always resort to the old standby, cereal.

  7. This is one of my favorite books!

  8. If it’s morning-ish, waffles. If it’s afternoon/evening, mac and cheese, but not from a box – homemade and rich and lovely.

  9. spaghetti with basil and lots of grana padano. or pie.

  10. peanut butter puffins cereal. or grilled cheese. or i’ll go to a diner and get a grilled cheese and bacon. to go!
    yes, great idea for a recipe book. perfect!

  11. This summer I often make a tomato, mozzarella, basil salad. Or tortilla espanola. Or a pasta tuna salad.

  12. grapenuts with frozen blueberries or grilled cheese and tomato soup.

  13. I make a lot of scrambled eggs too! Sometimes if I’m feeling adventurous I will chop up zucchinis and summer squash, saute in olive oil and then add the eggs and parmesean cheese. Kind of like a fritatta. A Li-tatta. {for my name}

  14. What a great idea for a book, I’ll definitely be reading! Whenever I get the chance for a night in by myself (which I happen to LOVE) I usually make something on the sweet side for dinner-lately it’s been crepes filled with nutella and sliced bananas or strawberries. Yum!

  15. pancakes, for any meal :)

  16. i actually spend a lot of time alone (although i just moved in with my boyfriend, so that’s changing). i enjoy cooking nice things for myself and have found this to be an important part of my happiness and womanhood to get involved in nurturing myself. i usually make steamed or stir fried veggies (or salad in the summer) with rice, quinoa, and millet, maybe with some lentils or eggs or tempeh. for comfort food i love to have oatmeal for dinner with banana, flax seeds, and almond butter.

  17. An obscenely huge bowl of cheerios with a bunch of cut up fruit on top.


    Chips and dip


    A huge salad with anything and everything on it.

  18. tomato sandwiches… mmmmm.

    i am going to pick up this book today! i love it!

  19. What an awesome, delicious book (pun intended!). I actually wrote one of my newspaper columns on the very topic of the joys of eating solo last year. How timely!

  20. This is one of my favorite books! I read it when I got my first solo apartment and now re-read every time I move to a new one… or just feel like cooking on my own! Enjoy reading it :)

  21. Mac n Cheese fo’ sho! I add a side of sliced heirloom tomatoes sprinkled with pepper and plum vinegar. You know, to be healthy :)

  22. what a cute book! i LOVE nora ephron so i’ll have to pick that up.

    i usually make creative grilled cheeses with sauteed onions, avocado or tomato since stephen doesn’t really like those :) i’m also a sucker for breakfast as dinner!

  23. Jo! this sounds like such a great book, and I don’t even read!! I might just pick it up myself! Thanks for introducing it!

    I make instant noodles and spam when I am alone! haha!

  24. What a great book! I’ve never seen this before. I eat alone a lot because I’m living by myself right now. I love to cook, but I rarely do it when it’s just me! More like mac and cheese and leftovers.

  25. When my other half was away for 6 weeks for training, I made a lot of basmati rice with peas/bacon and topped with peanut sauce. Mmmmmm :) Super simple but always yummy.

  26. Loads of spaghetti with garlic and olive oil … yum!

  27. easy mac and red wine. so ghetto, but what can you do?

  28. Oh goodness! I love both those ladies!!!!! Ever read or watch the kitchen 4B videos (or the NYTimes Mag blog: The Moment) they are by Jill Santopietro…shes fantastic! i just interviewed her for a piece im writing and had to check myself not to gush too much!


  29. Haha, guess this is the eggplant book! When I’m alone, I generally eat leftovers, something that’s totally not a meal (e.g. peanut butter bread and raisins), or takeout. So boring!

  30. I always cook a proper meal for me and the mister every night; I love it and he always does the washing up.
    However, if I’m on my own, I love nothing more than just a big bowl of peas with mint and Tabasco. Mmmm!
    Is that weird?

  31. What a beautiful book! Great cover & it certainly sparked my interest.

  32. spaghetti carbonara with garlic bread and either lashings of red wine- or cola!!

  33. mm i’m an omlette/scrambled eggs girl too :) and some vanilla ice-creram with crumbled chocolate cookies over the top! yum :)

  34. Ooh, this sounds like a great read — thanks for sharing! And for me it’s usually pasta with loads of veggies and fresh Parmesan …

  35. When alone, I like to put some Maxwell on
    and make the greatest sandwich:

    Toasted whole wheat bread
    Few slices of very ripe beef tomatoes
    Salt and pepper.

    Combine. Eat. Drink wine.
    Then dance naked around the house.

  36. Anonymous says...

    For me, caprese sandwich=instant happy feel good feeling :)

  37. Wow, your salad sounds fantastic!!! I’m definitely trying that out soon!

    As far as my meal alone, I like to make a salad with spinach, goat cheese, dried cranberries, bacon bits, sliced almonds & apples. Or if I’m feeling lazy, I eat a baked potato with lots of cheese, sour cream, and salsa.

  38. I make myself bruschetta. Ciabatta bread brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with pepper and salt, basil leaf, slice of mozzarella then toasted..mmmmmm

  39. Air popped popcorn, with melted butter, just a little, salt and brown sugar…..heaven. The bowl is big and the smile is bigger

  40. Anonymous says...


    (I’m the nice anonymous.)

  41. You know what, I actually don’t really like to eat alone. I wonder what that says about me personally…

    But this book seems like the perfect solution to my lonely-eating issues!

  42. This looks incredible. I can’t wait to pick it up and read about what everyone else eats! Me? Mashed bananas and peanut butter. Yummy!


  43. What a great book idea! You know, it depends on how hungry I am. If I don’t have much time, I’ll cook an Amy’s dinner (boring but so yummy). But when I’m inspired, I’ll make a salad and pasta with sauce, parmesan, and cottage cheese. Yup, cottage cheese! Try it…it’s delish:)

  44. I loved that book, and devoured the essays on a big leather sofa at Borders! I eat alone very often, and I cook just about anything. My recent obsession, however, is pesto! A tubful of that emerald greed deliciousness goes with almost everything! :) Even cheesy eggs and big salads.

  45. oh, look! someone wrote the story of my life! (wow, cynical much tonight, laura?) i actually don’t mind eating alone, esp. after reading molly w’s bit about it in her book–she has given me a whole new perspective.
    when i’m alone, i like to get really creative with what’s in the pantry/fridge, which usually ends up being some kind of big salad with lots of RANDOM veggies, cold meat (chicken or tuna), and lemony dressing. never the same twice!

  46. I love making pasta with butter and lots and lots of parmesan cheese! It’s so yummy and so easy. I probably eat it too much actually. It’s also good with a glass of white wine!

  47. I love your question!

    I like taking one tortilla and on half of it putting cheese, veggies and deli turkey then folding it in half and zapping it in the microwave for 45 seconds. Then I say,”Voila!”

  48. I think I need this. putting it on my ever growing list of books to buy. when I eat alone, I tend to make eggs or pasta, because they are easy and delicious! and I bust out the white wine too! :)

  49. either really decadent meals like pasta with heavy cream sauce and sofia sparkling wine, or just sofia sparkling wine.

  50. what a great book…i don’t eat alone too often since we have a little one … but when i do i look forward to it. its usually a simple sandwich, a bowl of cereal or some fresh veggies.

  51. i hate eating alone. if no one is hoe i usually just snack but rarely ever make a real meal just for myself.

  52. Eggs definitely. Scrambled, poached, boiled or omelet. I’m not fussy how they come.xx

  53. What a cool idea! On my amazon wishlist…

  54. My boyfriend is coeliac, so it’s a rare opportunity to devour a bowl of fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes, spinach, pine nuts and olive oil.
    Mmmm, I kinda hope he’s working late tonight…!

  55. This is a great book – one of those I pick up again from time to time and thumb through for an essay – and that I appreciate as an introvert who loves solitary mealtimes.

    When I eat alone, it tends to be avocado on sprouted toast, five nights in a row, sprinkled with salt and lime juice. Adventurous, no. But delicious.

  56. What a brilliant concept of a cookbook. I would love to purchase a copy of this – many thanks for the lead.

  57. pasta with sardines and rocky road ice cream for dessert…

  58. Emily says...

    Every so often my sweetie and I have to spend a few weeks apart due to work. While he’s away, I become a soup-eating vegan, and he eats at the pub every night. Everbody’s happy!

  59. I usually whip up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s :)

  60. PJ says...

    I’m usually content with a bowl of cereal for dinner when I’m alone–or I’ll skip dinner all together and go straight for dessert!

  61. oh, i love this idea! i make potatoes (james is allergic) and i love, love them.

  62. SK says...

    It’s so interesting to think about what we eat when we are alone and only have our stomachs to satisfy. I think I’ve done everything from avocado with a sprinkle of salt to a bowl of cereal at 10 p.m. after a long day. I’ll be sure to check out this book!

  63. ahh!! i just did the cheesy egg scramble with tons of cheddar the other day while the bf was away :D hahahaha…. i eat a lot of cereal.. and ice cream… but i tend to go towards eggs when im by myself. comfort foods :] i like making stirfries of all my fav veggies and flavors… even if they dont go together for other ppl…

  64. my husband teases me that I can snack instead of eating a “real” dinner and be fine. When he is not around that is exactly what I do. I eat a bowl of guacamole or maybe a bowl of spicy popcorn. (both of which he taught me to make)
    Earlier today I posted my guacamole recipe on my blog:

  65. Can’t wait to read this book! As for my “all alone dinner” — pasta with Bolognese sauce =)

  66. Ahh, I hate eating alone so I usually just pick up fast food or have frozen food… I sometimes even skip eating and just munch on chips. I know, it’s so terrible!

  67. these are so cute! and koala, we’re going to italy and greece, i can’t WAIT!

  68. I eat dinner at home alone often, as well since D ends up working late most nights and I work from home…I definitely want to check this book out. Sometimes I make the same things as you but I also eat a lot of leftovers…I cook (almost) every Sunday so I ate whatever is left from then and every week I make a huge pot of fresh sauce and so I can have fast pasta…I’m addicted to my own sauce. and a lot of the time I end up ordering in…not the best option health-wise but still so fun and easy…

  69. Just put it on my check-out list at my public library.

    I usually make scrambled eggs w/mushrooms, whatever random cheese I have in my fridge, red peppers, and tomatoes.

    My other go-to solo dinner dish is eggplant with Parmesan cheese.

  70. I live alone but I love to cook for friends and family regularly. Most nights though, I just boil up some water for a Tasty Bite and throw spinach, tomato, and cucumber in a bowl with vinegar. If you haven’t discovered the simplicity and perfection of dinner-in-a-pouch, you’re missing out!

  71. i love it! i must get a copy for myself. thanks for the link.

  72. Cook some spaghetti, spoon in some pesto, throw in some halved cherry tomatoes, sometimes bits of crispy bacon, roasted crushed almonds (was supposed to be pine nuts but one night I had run out so I used almonds instead and have used them since).

    Pour boiling water over some cous cous (add a bit of olive oil and salt) and while it absorbs the liquid cut some tomatoes and avocado, toss together with some rocket, feta and something crunchy (some nuts or seeds or something), add balsamic vinegar to taste. This one is great to make in the office for lunch as well :)

  73. I have a love affair with refried beans. Sometimes I eat them on chips or tortillas; sometimes I eat them on a salad with avocados and spinach. My husband won’t eat them as they are too “mashy”.

  74. I do the cheesy scramble too…sometimes with cheddar, sometime gruyere, and sometimes goat cheese! I like putting lemon pepper on it. Is that odd?

  75. Jo says...

    My favorite by myself meal? Taco salad! I have celiac disease so I indulge with Fritos as the base and everything I want on top. Oh, and I add ketchup; gross to others, but fabulous to me, especially since no one can see me. :)

  76. This book came out a few years ago and is one of my favorites. Food writing is almost as good as eating!

  77. I don’t mind eating alone when my hubby occasionally works the night shift. Breakfast foods are my nighttime faves – pancakes, waffles and sometimes a mimosa.

  78. When I eat alone it’s usually scrambled eggs or a sandwich. If I’m feeling saucy, a yummy beef or chicken salad hehe

  79. Wouldn’t mind that book on a Wednesday give away. So anyway where did You decide to go on that post-wed trip?

  80. I am all alone at lunch, so I usually make sandwiches or salads. I found this awesome Hazelnut Poppy Seed Bread that totally floats my boat!

  81. Can’t wait to read this, such a brilliant concept, people sharing what they eat in secret when they are home alone!

  82. I love that book! It’s fabulous. I eat tuna sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, big salads or sometimes a box of macaroni and cheese. Scrambles are big on the list and fried rice to use up leftovers.

  83. If you’re interested in dining solo, you should also check out Deborah Madison’s great new book _What We Eat When We Eat Alone_. The recipes are fabulous and the illustrations (which were done by Madison’s husbnad) are adorable!

  84. This book is a entertaining hunger-inducing read :) When I’m eating solo, I go for toasted crusty bread rubbed with garlic and a bunch of tomatoes or chunks of cheese. Mmm, which sounds good right about now.

  85. While wedding planning, I ate a lot of dinners of popcorn topped with parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast & spices.,. which I justified by adding ice cream (“for the extra protein). I actually picked this up from my mom, who would claim “hey, it’s okay, popcorn’s a vegetable!”

    I’m alone tonight and eating a huge bowl of cucumber, yellow pepper and tomato topped with some homemade vinaigrette and delicious feta. If I’m being 100% honest, I’ll admit that I have made & eaten this exact same bowl of veggies + dressing + feta THREE TIMES today. Yep.

  86. What a great book! I’m all about breakfast for supper when it’s just me…scrambled eggs, pancakes, or the always reliable cereal.

  87. the ultimate trashy food – fish finger sandwiches, with loads of ketchup. a flashback to childhood.

  88. my husband works late too, I usually make a huge green salad with a lot of nuts and goat cheese, vinegar dressing. I like to drink shiraz :)

  89. Can I get a Hell Yeah for Kraft Mac and Cheese?

  90. Oh, I love this, Joanna! I’ve just gone from having a 7-day meal-mate to getting him only 3 nights a week, so this is perfect. Eggs are usually my go-to as well, but I’ve been known to eat a bowl of cereal with soy milk standing up…

  91. Udon (japanese noodle soup) – i mastered my mom’s recipe.

    But since I have two lil girls, it happens every thousand years. LOL..

  92. sweet, can’t wait to pick this up! (I’ll do a stir fry…or a fruit smoothie…).

  93. if i’m eating alone, it’s usually “breakfast for dinner” — scrambled eggs with a side of toast….yum!

  94. This book is officially on my wishlist! I eat most of meals alone as I live by myself, but I’m bad about making a formal meal for one… most nights I just munch on random things until I’m full, and it’s a great night if I make an actual meal! I need to get better at that…

  95. Saltines stacked with a spread of mayo and extra sharp cabot cheddar cheese. Or cereal.

  96. I have 4 kids so I rarely cook for just myself. But sometimes after the kids are in bed I make a big bowl of homemade tapioca pudding. Yum:)

  97. what a fantastic book! i’ll have to pick that one up for sure :)

    i lived alone for a while & now my roommate and i are on totally opposite schedules so i cook alone a lot. i love cooking up eggplant and other hearty veggies in some olive oil and tossing it over pasta. yummm!

  98. cheesy scrambled eggs are the way to go! i’m also guilty of a bowl of cereal or a salad paired w/ ben & jerry’s ice cream. oops!