Food

What Food Geniuses Eat When They’re Home Alone

What Food Geniuses Eat When They're Home Alone

How many people do you usually cook for? I fly solo most nights, and am always on the hunt for new dinner ideas that won’t have me eating the same leftovers for a week. (A girl can only have so much soup!) So, to kick off our month of cooking for one, here’s what 12 industry experts, from restaurant owners to food writers, always reach for when they’re home alone…

On keeping it simple:

“One of my standbys is pasta with cooked frozen peas, butter, lemon and lots of parmesan. It’s pantry stuff that I always have around that I can make in one pot in about 10 minutes. (When I am home alone, I never want to do dishes.) Boil the pasta, add the peas in the last minute of cooking just to defrost them, drain the pasta and peas, reserving a bit of pasta water then toss with butter, lemon juice and zest, and lots and lots of parm. Grind some fresh pepper over the top and eat on the couch in your pajamas.” — Yossy Arefi, author of Sweeter Off the Vine

On childhood favorites:

“My go-to solo dish is savory oatmeal — my mum would often make this for breakfast or lunch when we were kids. I cook up old-fashioned oats with vegetable stock until thick and creamy. Then I’ll top it with some roasted vegetables, scallions and a swig of chili oil. If I’m feeing fancy, I’ll add sliced avocado! It’s ready in about 15 minutes, and it’s hearty and nourishing.” — Hetty McKinnon, author of Family

“Owning restaurants means that your home fridge is a mostly empty vessel, save for wine that lives in the veggie drawer and a few expired yogurts on the top shelf. My favorite thing to make for myself is my world-famous PB&J: crunchy peanut butter and Crofter’s Berry Harvest jam on soft white Vermont Bread. The trick is a nice even spread of the condiments perfectly to the edges of the bread without spilling over, and of course, cutting on the diagonal.” — Emily Hyland, founder of Emmy Squared

On frozen staples:

“I stock our freezer with Roberta’s frozen pizza. I love the kale, garlic and chili one with a fried egg on top!” — Jamie Erickson, founder of Poppy’s

On sprucing up leftovers (with hot dogs!):

“Since I cook all the meals for our family of four, I definitely don’t go the elaborate route on my rare nights alone. My go-to meal is fried rice. We almost always have leftover rice, and then I throw in whatever is in the crisper drawer: green onions, carrots, broccoli, shredded cabbage, chopped leftover hot dogs (really!) or leftover steak. I top it with Chile Crunch (the best!), and eat it with a beer.” — Jessica Battilana, author of Repertoire

“If I’m lucky, I’ll have a big batch of chow chow relish in my fridge leftover from the holidays. (I make REALLY large batches.) I eat that on anything that’s in the fridge — eggs, tortilla chips, salad, cheese (pimento is the cheese of choice).” — Carla Hall, author of Soul Food

On timesavers:

“I love making cast-iron stove-top pizzas. Turn your oven up to broil, then heat a cast-iron skillet over medium on the stove. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil, then add a tortilla. Let it cook for a minute until the bottom has spots of golden brown, then flip and add a thin layer of jarred pizza sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, sea salt, and whatever pizza-y dried herbs you have around, like oregano, thyme and garlic powder. Stick it in the oven and bake until the edges are just browning, then drizzle with hot honey, because really, life should be drizzled with hot honey. Voila! You have the perfect, crispy pizza, in less than five minutes.” — Liz Moody, author of Healthier Together

On indulging yourself:

“Have you ever seen the movie Because I Said So with Diane Keaton? There’s this great scene where Mandy Moore makes herself dinner at home — a gorgeous plate of creamy pasta with a glass of wine. She even sits down at a table setting to eat it. When I’m alone, I try to remind myself to sit down and savor, even if it isn’t fancy! I like the idea of making even a grilled cheese with care.” — Posie Brien, 600 Acres

“I used to show out in the kitchen only when there was someone to cook for, and then, whenever I was alone, rush through a large bowl of parfait standing up. I still eat this, but it’s the romancing myself — slowing down, setting the ambiance — that I’m into these days. It’s a really sweet thing to do.” — Jerrelle Guy, author of Black Girl Baking

On cooking what you really want:

“My wife doesn’t enjoy steak and I only crave it rarely (see what I did there?), so I make it at home when I’m flying solo. I take one small steak, pat it generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, sear it in a smoking hot skillet, and then let it rest while I cut up romaine and dress it with oil, vinegar and dried oregano. I slice my steak and put it, hot, right on top of the cold lettuce and pour over any juice from the cutting board right on top. I squeeze some lemon over everything and eat it all, except for a couple of bites that I let our dogs have…our secret.” — Julia Turshen, author of Now & Again and host of Keep Calm + Cook On

On eggs (because!):

“Sometimes, when I’m alone, my meal is a big bowl of popcorn and a beer. (No regrets ever with that meal.) But if I have a little more energy, I’ll make eggs. There’s a recipe I love in The Zuni Café Cookbook for eggs fried in breadcrumbs that calls for toasting bread crumbs in a skillet, then frying the eggs directly in the toasty crumbs. They’re finished with a splash of vinegar that gets quickly swirled in the hot pan, where it picks up any lingering goodness. I’m hungry just thinking about them.” — Alexandra Stafford, Alexandra Cooks

On the real MVP, cereal:

“I’ve always admired those people who make themselves wholesome, elevated meals when they’re eating alone. But I am not one of those people. Instead, I treat it as my one opportunity to have the laziest meal possible. In the past, that has almost always meant bowls and bowls of cereal. I love cereal so deeply that I made it my New Year’s resolution to stop eating it so much. Maybe I’ll stop for a box of Cracklin’ Oat Bran on my way home. Just this one time?” — Sarah Jampel, senior staff writer at Food52

What do you eat when you’re home alone?

P.S. What food geniuses eat for lunch and a bodega challenge with Smitten Kitchen.

(Oats photo by Hetty McKinnon. Pizza photo via Roberta’s. Eggs photo by Ali Stafford. Photo of Yossy Arefi by Christine Han. Grilled cheese photo via Food52.)

  1. Mona says...

    OH my goodness. The Zuni cafe eggs recipe is all that and more. I used to do Rhonda’s Spaghetti w Fried eggs and Pangrattato (Food52) when eating solo but since having two kids, I don’t have the time for the extra pans (or the carbs for that matter!!). Try melting an anchovy in the butter before adding the breadcrumbs and the serving it over arugula. Yes yes yes!! And thank you, Alexandra!

  2. I love to make soft noodles with veggies when I am alone at home. Very quick, tasty and nobody around to annoy

  3. Really interesting info and insight. Love reading what other experts do!

  4. Sarah Marfurt says...

    It sounds plain, but something I always find comforting and satisfying, especially when inspiration is otherwise lacking, is a bowl of fluffy quinoa with steamed greens (normally broccoli) and some tinned chickpeas, all topped off with a good squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and extra pepper. Yum! (Sometimes I’ll add some chilli flakes, too.)

  5. Mals says...

    Sautéed garlic and lemon kale tossed into whatever leftover is in the fridge -rice / pasta. I keep some cashew / lime / scallion dressing in the fridge to drizzle over.

  6. Jenn Dreier says...

    Popcorn with cheese and fruit!

  7. Maureen says...

    Post Cranberry Almond Crunch Cereal with extra almonds on top. With almond milk :)

  8. Martha says...

    Since I moved out on my own and started cooking for myself, I’ve been saying, “I’ll know I’m a real adult when a bowl of cereal and a glass of wine are no longer an acceptable dinner.” 10 years later, and I still pull out the old standby…

  9. Meredith says...

    I had skimmed this post earlier in the week, and was about to have A Crisis tonight when I realized I didn’t have ingredients for what I thought I would for dinner. CupofJo & Yossy to the rescue! I’m about to eat pasta+peas+parm+lemon+pepper and it is going to be delicious. :)

  10. Lauren E. says...

    Eggs all the way! Or a tuna melt. Or what a friend likes to call toddler tapas (hard boiled egg, cheese and crackers, some nuts, crackers, grapes).

    Whatever I make myself, no matter how lazy, if my husband sees he’ll say, “Oh maaaan! How come you always make the best stuff for yourself?!”

  11. Emily C says...

    Some marketing analyst at Cracklin Oat Bran is scratching their head trying to figure out the spike in sales this week.

    • Lora says...

      This gave me quite the chuckle, Emily

  12. G says...

    Yessss! More chef features, please (pretty please).

  13. Amy says...

    Cracklin’ Oat Bran has been my favorite since I was a kid! I love that so many people love it. Now that I think about it, I haven’t had it in years… maybe I’ll stop on my way home tomorrow for a box. :)

  14. I tend to take myself out or order out. My fav is Ethiopian food. I always eat that alone because I have no one to eat it with. I will get it to go or when I go to the African market I get injera, and I will make the lovely salad I was taught to make since it’s hard to find it in Ethiopian restaurants. Its called fitfit and its onions, peppers, vinegar, and injera mixed. I can eat it everyday!!!

  15. Mia says...

    If i’m feeling really lazy, it’s rippled potato chips eaten with a bowl of lazy yogurt dip (plain yogurt, drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of fresh lemon, salt, pepper, and loads of garlic powder).

    If I’m in the mood to cook, it’ll be something with vegetables I love that my bf doesn’t care for, like eggplant or bell peppers. A big batch of saucy, spicy sichuan eggplant and steamed white rice = heaven. Or a small pan of eggplant parm, also heaven.

    I too have a deep and abiding love for breakfast cereal of all stripes–I’m a runner and I treat it as a good luck breakfast before races or long runs. It’s also all I want to eat when hungover!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!!

    • Em says...

      Me, too! And her revamped vegetarian cabbage soup, which (in our house) was even yummier! I learned about her site thanks to Cup of Jo!

  16. Natalie T. says...

    I love all of these!
    Team popcorn but those eggs in breadcrumbs sound fabulous.

  17. Alexis says...

    I am never home alone. I’m home alone with my son a couple of times a week tho! And we will eat in front of the TV on tray tables.

    Usually: PBJ for him and ramen for me (dressed up with added mushrooms, butter, american cheese, etc). Or cold cuts from Di Palo’s. Or grilled cheese sandwiches.

  18. Hot dogs!! My parents would add them to fritata when I was little : LOVE it.
    For quick dinners, anything with eggs or a tuna salad is a stand by. Tomato soup and grilled cheese is another quick indulgence. Or what I call a “picnic dinner”: chips, dips, olives, salami, etc.

  19. When my husband’s gone, I love making dinners that he wouldn’t consider “dinner” — like a microwaved artichoke with a dipping aioli, some chunks of parmesan drizzled with good balsamic, and a couple of shortbread cookies topped with dark chocolate squares. I put it on a pretty plate, pour a glass of wine, and a virtually no-cook meal feels decadent and perfect.

  20. Brooke says...

    Julia Turshen is such a wonderful, warm, community gathering presence! It’s so wonderful to see her featured here. I’m amazed to see how she uses food and cooking to talk about things like gender equity, inclusion, food to fuel activism, and being connected to your neighbors and community. Her podcast Keep Calm and Cook On is marvelous and any interview on insta with her wife Grace is lovely. What a light, so much warmth and realness. Yay Cup of Jo for highlighting these female chefs 🙌🏽✨.

    • gracemarie says...

      I just started listening to her podcast and I LOVE IT! She is so easy to listen to. I also love her recipes and the cooking she’s done for Munchies and her Google talks on youtube.

    • Brooke says...

      Gracemarie, yay for shared Julia love!! Thanks for pointing me to more of her good spots. I could listen to her forever.
      Same with Carla Lalli Music on Bon Appétit YouTube and “rice-cast” 😆.

  21. Alice says...

    As someone who lives semi alone (i.e. with housemates but we don’t share meals), the majority of my evening meals are solo suppers. I LOVE cooking, and will often make absurdly elaborate meals for just myself- I genuinely believe that cooking well for yourself is the ultimate act of self care. I’ll generally scale down recipes so they make two portions unless they freeze well, and then I’ll just go for it!! There’s nothing I love more than spending an hour in the kitchen making something wonderful. Of course, it’s always lovely to share, but I like to think I deserve the great stuff on my own too :)

    • Genevieve says...

      Same! Cooking for one is… every day. Gotta cook real meals not just have popcorn?!
      I love cooking and do it most days, though also a big fan of leftovers and things that can be combined. For example cooking up a big portion of curry lentils then having them with different accompaniments for a few different dinners.
      The biggest problem is that fresh ingredients come in big portions but have found that chopping veg and storing in glass jars keeps them fresher longer! I don’t cook much meat at home any more but used to split up and freeze portions separately on day of purchase to ensure no waste.

  22. Sara says...

    I spruce up instant ramen noodles… Add an egg, some veggies, maybe a slice of cheese toward the end of it being done so they cook with it too. Top it off with some kimchi and I’m good to go!

    Some other favorites are a fried egg/cheddar cheese sandwich, quesadilla, or grilled cheese (did I mention I love cheese?), best topped with an avocado if I have one, and of course a glass of red wine. Mmm.

    And lately it’s been a girl scout cookie for dessert.

  23. Hannah says...

    On the rare occasion that I’m home alone and cooking, I use it as an excuse to cook the things my family does not like… usually a lentil stew (similar to a dhal but also not), broccoli soup, or a bunch of cauliflower.

  24. Jill says...

    You all are fancy! When I’m alone it’s usually a fried egg sandwich or a toasted pb&j. If I want to get fancy, lol, it’s a blt (in summer with fresh tomatoes yum), or tortellini with butter and pepper (and wine). Also in summer when tomatoes are plentiful, I love making bruschetta. I miss summer tomatoes!

  25. Emma says...

    My go to used to be filled frozen pasta, throw in spinach, olives and cherry tomatoes. Loved that hot tomatoe bursting in my mouth

  26. Em says...

    Before kids, I’d be too full after dinner for much other than flopping down for a snooze. So we would occasionally have apple crumble cooking for dinner, and our “post dinner activities” before ;)

    • Steph says...

      This is cheeky and I LOVE IT!!

  27. Kate says...

    Fruit salad! Chop banana, grapes, blueberries, apple … whatever’s on hand. Mix in small cubes of pepper jack cheese and sprinkle walnut pieces.

  28. Lindsay says...

    If I am eating alone and not cooking for my family of 5 like usual, I almost always have open faced sandwiches. Always on a grainy rye type bread. It is usually either a nut butter with berries on top, or butter/cheese/turkey and topped with greens/cucumbers or smoked salmon/cream cheese/greens and cucumbers and capers and onions. Or I always have my favorite fried gooey egg and rye toast but I have that everyday for breakfast. Smoothie bowl with my favorite granola and dollop of greek yogurt. And I always end my meals with some nice herb tea and extra dark chocolate.

  29. Sasha L says...

    I like to cook the things I never make with my husband because he doesn’t like: split pea soup and mashed potatoes, mushroom barley soup, extra garlicky lemon pasta, mushroom lo mein.

    And brownies. Which he loves but more for me if he’s gone.

  30. Natalie T. says...

    I’m always cooking for my family but constantly looking for solo lunch ideas so this series is so refreshing! Also: most recipes are for 4-6 servings so I love this concept.

    My go-to’s:
    -cacio e pepe
    -chicken fajitas/anything in a wrap
    -thai basil chicken on top of jasmine rice (perfect for leftover lunch and Chrissy Teigen’s recipe is GOLDEN.)
    -snack-ish things like popcorn, slices of prosciutto, avocado toast, berries, etc. anything you can pick up in bunches.
    -this may sound like I’m 5 but I love those little iced tea boxes. perfect single servings!

  31. Kim says...

    I’m so excited for this month! Also, it immediately made me think of a book I stumbled into my first year living/cooking alone…”Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant”. Varied and touching stories, would recommend.

    For me, eggs on toast is a favorite : )

    • SC says...

      Loved that book!

  32. Audree says...

    I get a steamable bag of riced cauliflower, mix in veggies (asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms-almost anything works!), then use a small pour of olive oil, salt, black pepper, and maybe some Italian seasoning blend, and top with lots of grated Parmesan cheese….delicious, and pretty healthy, which makes my hidden stash of freezer chocolate perfectly justifiable after dinner. :)

    • Jess says...

      This sounds like me. Especially the chocolate part.

    • Debbie says...

      This just got easier! Trader Joe’s now has a Riced Vegetable Medley (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, green and yellow onions.) Had it last night sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper and a ciabatta roll on the side. Yum. Might try poached egg on top next time.

  33. Heather says...

    Yummm! Perfect timing on this post COJ team. My partner is away at a networking event tomorrow night, so I am flying solo. I’ll be having the eggs fried in breadcrumbs (I love eggs for dinner), and a nice green salad. Planning to follow the recipe from the link below, and excited to see how it goes!

    https://alexandracooks.com/2009/03/06/zuni-cafes-fried-eggs-in-bread-crumbs/

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yum!!!! i’m solo tonight so i will be making these in 3..2..1…

    • Sarah says...

      Almost midnight here in California and craving these. Very tempted to make them now! I just may. Thanks for the recipe!

  34. Shannon says...

    Many years ago before kids, I bet my husband that I could eat ice cream for every meal and snack while he was as out of town for three days. He doubted it, but I “persevered.” He still tells the story of the weekend I spent with Ben and Jerry while he was away.

  35. MelTown says...

    I started dating my husband in college so solitary dinners have always been a rarity for me. Before we had kids dinners alone were usually a pint of ice cream or a bowl of popcorn. Now that we have what feels like a million kids solitary dinners are about cooking for ME. Stinky cheese boards, lentil soup (sounds lame, but I assure you it’s amazing…even if I’m the only one who thinks so), gooey fried eggs on a baguette slathered in good butter, sea salt, and thinly sliced radishes. Always with a good glass of wine.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, mel, please invite me over next time you’re flying solo!!!

  36. Madison says...

    I ALWAYS make a single serving version of the creamy, lemony orzo soup I saw on Cup of Jo.

    In a tiny pot, boil chicken broth and cook a little less than a quarter cup of orzo. In a bowl, scramble an egg and add seasonings (garlic, thyme, or dill) and a generous splash of lemon juice. Temper the egg by slowly whisking in some of the hot broth, then pour the egg into the pot. Cook on low, stirring, for 3-5 minutes more (until the soup is creamy and thick but the eggs aren’t yet scrambled solid). Serve with shredded chicken if you have some.

    • Madison says...

      Yes, that’s it! I love it because it’s so luxurious and feels like a real meal, but it’s also sort of healthy and dirties only 2 dishes. I’m not about to waste my date night with myself by doing dishes.

      P.S. I’ve also tossed in some spinach if I want a veggie!

    • Genevieve says...

      yessss, big favourite of mine too, I specifically buy bone-in chicken so I can make my own chicken stock and have this recipe :)

  37. I absolutely loved “what food geniuses eat for lunch” and I love this article too. I cook for one often and enjoy Blue Apron and then I have lunch the next day. BUT I also love to make a whole bunch of tator tots, sprinkle with seasoned salt, dipped in ketchup. yum. Also, I love that this blog promotes a healthy relationship with ALL the food groups. It’s refreshing.

  38. Lauren says...

    When I’m dining solo, I usually treat myself to bean dip! Refried beans or a can of mashed up black beans heated up with shredded Mexican cheese, hot sauce (Franks works best) and spices (cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder). My chip of choice with this delightful dip is red hot blues.

    • Suzanne B says...

      My go-to is bean dip too!! I’ve never thought to add cumin and chilli powder though – next time! Makes me excited for my next night alone ;)

  39. Agnes says...

    Last night I had Annie’s multigrain crackers from Costco dipped in natural peanut butter. And an avocado eaten straight from the shell. Filling and (kinda?) healthy. I like to tell myself that anyway!

  40. Katherine says...

    Oh my gosh, Cracklin Oat Bran used to be my *fave* cereal until I got pregnant and then all of a sudden all I could taste was coconut! I was like HAS THIS ALWAYS BEEN IN THERE?!?! because I super dislike coconut but leave it to pregnancy to flip out over sneaky flavors. I haven’t had a bowl since and now it’s Honey O’s FTW.

    Also for quick one person meals: quinoa with bacon and a fried egg and everything but the bagel seasoning. Perfection!

    • Elle says...

      You have fabulous taste in cereal! ;)

  41. D says...

    Anything really, but in taco shells. Sautéd cabbage and tuna fish in a taco. Eggs and roasted veggies in a taco. Roasted tofu, sauerkraut and kale in a taco. And then for dessert a little bit of ice cream floating in a big glass of milk (plus chefs table or grace and Frankie in pjs on the couch, plus dog). I look forward to these night sooo much.

  42. Jen says...

    I am loving all of these comments — so many great meal ideas! My go-to solo dinner was always risotto. Whenever my husband was traveling or out for the night, I’d make a ritual out of making it while listening to a podcast or some French music, then I’d enjoy it with good bread and a glass of wine, usually while watching an episode of Gilmore Girls. However, I recently separated from my husband and am going through a divorce. Now every dinner is a wonderful solo ritual (except for evenings I have dinner with friends). I’ve been cooking all the things I love, just for myself. Of course I look forward to preparing and enjoying meals with a new partner in the future. But for now I have so much gratitude for my comfortable solo dinners.

  43. Blythe says...

    My husband does all the cooking so on the rare nights alone I have SNACK DINNER! Almost always an egg – fried, hard boiled, poached. Some lettuce with dressing. Chips with melted cheese (mini nachos are a must have) and hot sauce. A couple slices of an apple. Handful of nuts. A single girl scout cookie. If your plate looks like something you would serve a 5-year-old then you’ve really nailed it.

    • Kate says...

      I love snacks for dinner! My golden combo is edamame, crackers and a really sharp cheddar, some salami, a sliced apple, almonds or pistachios, and some olives. I might need to somehow work mini nachos into this mix!

  44. Oooh…I’m pretty excited about this month’s cooking for one feature. I’m single, so I eat alone a lot. I’m glad I’m not the only one who reaches for eggs and oatmeal! I love the variations shared here. Other quick pasta options: pasta e broccoli, cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), pasta al’olio e pepperoncini (olive oil, crushed hot pepper, crushed garlic).

  45. Sherry McLaughlin says...

    My time alone means a recipe from Cup Of Joe here, cooked corn meal with pasta sauce topped with an egg and crunchy bread…….can’t beat it ever.

  46. Loren says...

    I eat an entire bunch of tuscan kale, destemmed, spread on a cookie sheet, and slathered with nutritional yeast and olive oil. In the winter, I may follow it with a bowl of steel cut oats with walnuts and maple syrup for dessert.

    • Yum!

  47. El says...

    I spend 3 nights a week on my own, because I travel to a very rural location for my job. In my tiny part-time rental, I have a very minimal kitchen (still haven’t bothered to get measuring cups, for example). Sometimes I’m organized enough to cook ahead and freeze golden dal, meatballs, lasagna, red beans and rice, or soup. When I haven’t planned ahead, my priorities are something I can cook in only one or two vessels ( a baking dish, a sauce pan, or a small skillet) using ingredients that I can find at the pretty basic grocery store near my job.

    These are my go-tos:
    -Sushi rice, crispy fried ginger and garlic, fried egg, some greens or a diced roasted yam. Top with salt and sesame oil. (NY Times has a good recipe)
    -Roasted cauliflower with pasta, parmesan, toasted bread crumbs, olive oil. Anchovies really elevate this.
    -The butter/canned tomato/onion pasta sauce from Marcella Hazan with pasta.
    -Frozen pizza, but in the last five minutes top it with greens tossed in olive oil on top and turn on the broiler for a minute or two.
    -Farro, a sliced red onion, a can of artichoke hearts, chopped green olives, on a bed of greens. Top with parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil.
    -After a truly long day: bagged popcorn, but drizzled with butter and real parmesan (my mom’s trick).

    This is my “survival mode, but make it self care” menu. :) Now I’m getting new ideas from this post and the comments!

  48. I enjoy having multiple courses, as if I was sharing it with others. I’ll start with some baguette and a chunk of manchego, move on to a simple green salad, and then some kind of protein with veggies, like roasted salmon & broccolini or canned sardines & roasted cauliflower. I never shy away from opening a bottle wine, even if only for a glass. There’s something about grounding yourself in the process – and enjoying it – that makes “eating alone” just as special as sharing the experience. And let’s be real, eating in multiple courses allows for viewing the entirety of a good movie :)

  49. diana k. says...

    I made egg salad for the first time the other day. It super hit the spot and I served it (to myself) with a pan-toasted tortilla cut into triangles. Everything can be enhanced with a side of pan-toasted tortilla triangles.

  50. Rose says...

    I live alone so this isn’t a guilty pleasure situation! I find vegetarian food makes for more bearable leftovers. I’m currently on a red lentil daal kick (fried onion, red lentils, stock, some kind of root vegetable/sweet potato, spices, coconut if I’m feeling fancy).

    • Sasha L says...

      Oh Rose, I could live on dal. So comforting. Yours sounds amazing.

  51. Hillary says...

    My husband doesn’t like baked potatoes (I know!!!) so when he goes out of town or out for the night I take my time and choose the best russet in the store, give it a good dressing of olive oil and salt and bake it. Out of the oven I put a hearty serving of salted butter and savor every last bite. He’s out of town next week and he’s already teasing me about my hot (potato) date.

    • My dad doesn’t like baked potatoes, so that’s always been my mom’s solo dinner. My husband’s favorite food is potatoes, so my solo meal is an artichoke (which he claims to not like but inhales artichoke dip) or two with anchovy mayo and really good bread…and wine.

  52. Sarah says...

    I must say that my go-to cookbook is the cup of jo website! Most of my beloved meals are from Wednesday posts:) I know this is a lot to ask, but if there is any way to better search through all of them, I would love it! I know I have barely scratched the surface of all of the great dishes on here!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we will look into this, sarah! thank you!!

    • Marisa says...

      Agreed! Time and time again I search for the jalapeno mac and cheese, the five ingredient lemony chicken, the crunchy roast potatoes and the best masala chai.

    • Arielle says...

      The COJ brownies and roast chicken is my GO TO for entertaining. I make the roast chicken for everyone and it’s the most perfect delicious dinner. I impress myself every time.

  53. Mel says...

    My go to when I’m alone is Fancy toast. I grill up an oiled piece of good bread (or just toast if lazy), then top it off with goodness:
    – TJs eggplant and tomato, sautéed with kale
    – Leftover roasted veggies and feta
    – cottage cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper
    – sautéed pancetta, kale and white beans (top with lemon juice and parm)

  54. Christine says...

    Eggs with avocado toast are my go to, which chipotle tobasco on the eggs and everything but the bagel seasoning on the toast. Quesadillas with whatever leftovers I have are favorites, too.

    When I lived alone, I’d cook big batches of chili or soup and freeze some in flat single serving zip top sandwich bags. Be sure to defrost bag in a bowl just in case the bag tears!

  55. R says...

    My favorite alone meal is any kind of pasta.

    This what I made last day,

    Sundried tomatos+ garlic+ parm+ walnuts +olive oil
    Blend together for quick pesto

    Add to boiled and drained pasta while it’s still warm so pesto coats everything

    Ready in less than ~15 mins

  56. michaela says...

    When I’m eating dinner alone, my go-to is something I could never make with my husband present: anchovy toast. He can hardly stand the look and smell of these little oily fishes, so I take advantage of his absence to savor them. I toast some bread, slather it with butter and tomato paste from the tube, open a tin of anchovies (or sardines!) and mash them on top, then finish with a spritz of lemon juice.

    I used to listen to a great podcast called Answer Me This, and one of the hosts once described the distinct pleasure of eating foods your significant other despises while they’re away as dipping into “the cabinet of solitary pleasures” (literally, he had a specific cabinet in his kitchen where he kept his verboten foods.) I think of this every time I make my anchovy toast! My husband’s cabinet-of-solitary-pleasures food is frozen Red Baron pizza; whenever I return from a trip away, there is sure to be at least one box in the recycle bin. :)

    • El says...

      OMG me too. I can stand in front of the fridge and eat anchovies from the container (pro tip: get the fancy jarred ones from Whole Foods, they are superlative)! My cat is decidedly more enthused about this than my husband :)

  57. Hayley says...

    My favorite go-to is a bowl of spaghetti or bucatini with Marcella Hazan’s classic tomato sauce with butter and onion. It includes stuff I always have, it’s quick and easy, and eating it (preferably on the couch, in comfies) is like getting the best hug!

  58. Britt says...

    I’d love to see a post on meal bases that can be changed with spices, etc. to create a couple different variations. I live on my own, so when I cook, it’s not usually guilty pleasure food as I eat solo most of the time. I enjoy cooking and try to meal prep healthy food, but eating the same soup for several days gets tiresome. Any suggestions?

    • Emmi says...

      Maybe you do this already, but try freezing leftovers instead of putting them in the fridge for the next day. I live alone and do this often. It’s also fab to be able to pull something out of the freezer on days that I don’t want to cook :)

    • Deborah says...

      The Well Fed cookbook has a whole section on this!

      The authors suggest a whole bunch of partial food prep over the weekend (browning beef, cooking chicken breasts, chopping veggies, wtc.) and then deciding what sort of spices or sauces you’d like to add the day-of.

      The recipes are all paleo, but the concepts work for a broader range of foods, too.

    • Britt says...

      Thank you Deborah! I actually eat paleo most of the time – did a Whole 30 several years ago and felt much better eating that way, so I’ve adopted a paleo diet for something more sustainable.

      And Emmi, I do freeze my food most of the time – I meal prep about a week’s worth of food on the weekend, since my weeknights are usually busy or I’m working late. I do love being able to just pull dinner from the freezer and only needing to heat it back up :)

  59. Hillary says...

    I loved the book ‘Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone’ – a collection of essays by 26 writers and their philosophies on eating alone. So good!

    • Jessica DeStefano says...

      I adore this book! So many good essays.

    • Sally K says...

      “What We Eat When We Eat Alone” by Deborah Madison is good, too.

  60. Esther says...

    I’ve definitely bookmarked the pasta recipe!
    But I am actually very disappointed with the majority of these suggestions… The descriptions I see above correspond more to “dinner cooked in a hurry with no-one to be accountable to” rather than “solo dinners”! As a single woman, I eat alone most dinners. Based on the suggestions, I would mostly eat things we would not serve anyone else, or “guilty pleasures” meals…
    What about wholesome, lovingly cooked food? What about getting your five a day while living solo? What about when the majority of your meals are solo meals? Shouldn’t the above actually be filed under the “super simple dinners” category rather than the “eating alone” one? There’s a whole month of recipes coming so I’ve got great hopes you’ll hit the mark during that time though! :)
    As for myself, maybe it’s because I’m French, but I see cooking for myself as a form of self-care so do invest time cooking simple but healthy food. That being said, as the writer suggests, I do eat a lot of leftovers!

    • Natalia says...

      A quick and healthy breakfast/lunch/dinner that always feels special for me –

      chop celery & lacinato kale in a big glass bowl
      boil water in a kettle
      pour water ontop of the veggies – let hang out for like 2-3 minutes
      drain
      add boiled egg (if at home I make, if at work I bring.. I love a good egg – bring water and egg to a boil and let cook for 3 min after the boiling point)

      serve with salt and pepper or trader joe’s everything but the bagel seasoning and a piece of ezekiel bread or nice bread

      my coworkers are always surprised I’m ‘cooking’ vegetables at work ;)

      XX n

    • Katie says...

      Agree, a lot of these are underwhelming. I mean, a cool insight into what the pros do, but I was hoping for more creativity than “a bowl of cereal”.

      I also live alone and like to make a proper dinner for myself – but fast and easy and not a lot of leftovers are all prerequisites.
      :)

    • lesley says...

      esther, did you read the full post? i’m honestly asking (not in a rude way) because there are many simple meal suggestions, like steak with salad, and savory homemade oatmeal, and pasta with peas, and two paragraphs on self care.

    • Catie says...

      As a single person who lives alone, I agree that there’s no single ‘category’ of food one cooks for just themselves, and I cook a huge range of things for myself (from complex recipes involving many leftovers, to weekend batch-prep of boring staples, to easy stuff thrown together from the grocery store).

      That said, the title of the post and its content make it pretty clear that this is a particular *type* of cooking for one: it’s what people who deal with food perhaps ALL DAY–writing about it, cooking it for others, supervising the people cooking for others, developing recipes, etc.–make when it’s just for them and they don’t need to worry about anyone else and are probably exhausted from the rest of the food in their day. Personally, I’m always interested in seeing what people whose job it is to think about food make when they want something easy and delicious.

      This post is also part of a whole month(!) of the ‘cooking for one theme’. I’m sure we’ll see more takes on it as well (including the one you’re hoping for), and I’m looking forward to them!

    • Julie says...

      I no longer live alone, but I did for a long time and I agree with your comments. I wouldn’t have been very healthy or happy eating pasta and cereal all the time. The assumption that eating alone, is for most people, a rarity, is frustrating and means you can only cook frozen pizzas, cereal, and pasta, because it’s just not true!

      Cooking for one takes lots of planning and if you miss one meal on the plan, i.e. have leftovers you’re supposed to eat but end up going to dinner with friends, I used to end up wasting so much food. Or the time I made a 9X13 pan of strata and had to eat it for a week straight…I still can’t eat it.

      I used to (and still do, now cooking for two), put so much thought into my meals for one. It was an act of self love.

      I used to make Against All Grain’s gluten free chicken fingers. I still love making myself steak. Mussels and steak frites is another go to. I always enjoyed a charcuterie board. OR, most of the time, it was a recipe for more than one person, made fresh once and eaten as leftovers for 1-2 more meals.

      I hope this month includes something from Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking for Yourself by Klancy Miller. Her cookbook is beautiful and an ode to cooking for one’s self as Esther mentions, as self care.

  61. Sinds says...

    Pasta pasta pasta. My husband is carb-phobic so I will eat any manner of pasta when he’s gone. Pasta with pre-made pesto from Costco or trader joe’s, pasta with Rao’s red sauce (the best Cup of Jo discovery yet) and sauteed kale, shallots, bell peppers, and beyond sausage, or if I have more time, I make my mom’s ***amazing*** “Thai fusion style pasta”:

    Mushrooms 15 atleast and cut them into 1/2 ( can be substituted with chicken)
    1 green bell pepper into slightly larger size
    Basil power
    Basil leaves if available ( 10 approx)
    1 onion – chop them into small pieces
    Green onion bunch – leaves chopped up if you have it
    1 and 1/2 tsp of ginger garlic paste ( if you have ginger, garlic then 1/2 spoon of ginger and 1 spoon of garlic)
    1 tsp of red chilli power
    2 cups of cooked rice or pasta 1 packet
    salt 1 spoon
    Black pepper 1 spoon
    Oil – 6 spoons

    Heat oil in a pan
    Add basil
    Add onion and fry till golden brown
    Add ginger garlic paste and fry for 2 minutes
    Add mushrooms and the bell pepper
    Add chillie powder, basil powder sprinkle, add salt
    Cover and cook till mushroom and bell bell pepper is cooked ( 7 to 10 minutes maybe in medium flame)
    Add pepper
    Check spice / salt
    Use a fork to separate the rice out ( should not be in clumps) or pasta
    Mix into the cooked mixture to coat evenly
    Check salt, pepper and adjust as required

    I can’t even describe how amazing it is, especially if you like spicy food. In fact I think I’m going to make it tonight!

    • Neela says...

      Wow, that sounds great, cant wait to try it! Might add an egg…

  62. Sliced Tomatoes, Avocado, Mozzarella (real italian one), Black olives, Fresh Basil leaves, Olive oil (virgin one) salt, pepper with hot toasts make me feel I am a queen :-) especially as looking as my plate is as good as eating it

  63. Katie says...

    Can someone help me? When I add lots of parm to my pasta it turns into a gummy lump! What am I doing wrong? Do I need to let the pasta cool? Buy a higher quality parm? Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Julie says...

      Do you use shredded or finely grated? Shredded has more surface area, so it’s more likely to stick to more of the cheese. I like to use the finely grated kind since it never clumps, especially when I add it a little bit at a time.

    • Morey says...

      Reserve a little bit of pasta cooking water and mix it in when you add the cheese, so it coats the noodles!

    • Katie says...

      thank you, all! Will try again.

  64. Katie says...

    my husband is starting a job this month with lots of travel, and I was JUST thinking how excited I am to eat cereal for dinner when he’s gone :) cinnamon toast crunch all the way!

    • Katie Muncie says...

      Hahahaha I feel you sister!

    • rach says...

      favorite!!!

  65. Maggie says...

    Disappointed there isn’t an artsy photo of a bowl of cereal in the picture collage. :)

    • Franny Eremin says...

      Hahaha, I tried but couldn’t find one!

  66. Danielle says...

    Jeno’s Party Pizza or cereal are definitely two of my favorites if my husband is out of town. Once someone asked me what I was going to do while my husband was on a trip and I said “Eat pizza in bed”.
    If I feel like cooking this recipe from My Berlin Kitchen is a go to: https://books.google.com/books?id=v-dvDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA65&lpg=PA65&dq=luisa+weiss++my+berlin+story+spaghetti+with+breadcrumbs+capers&source=bl&ots=79_Ix1pQpu&sig=ACfU3U26letelTy6_z_IWqWHZQw4cgg0jg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi08PaApu7gAhVDqJ4KHUDFDswQ6AEwA3oECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=luisa%20weiss%20%20my%20berlin%20story%20spaghetti%20with%20breadcrumbs%20capers&f=false

  67. i used to think that i’d be one of those people who would have to sneak sardines on toast or with rice when left alone at home. luck was on my side, i had a roommate from spain who enjoyed sardines atop french bread and my husband is also a fan of these canned fish (or fresh when we’re out). i’ve expanded a bit and now make it with pasta and healthy amount of sauteed onions and capers and so much splash of lemon juice.

    • Michaela says...

      I just added a comment about how much I love sardines on toast when I’m dining solo! I’m going to pocket the pasta suggestion as well. :)

  68. Katie says...

    I always make sausage tacos with mustard, relish, and some shredded cheddar. I grew up eating these but the BF thinks they are weird. “Where’s the salsa?” he says. “Salsa isn’t an ingredient in Sausage Tacos.” I say. And tater tots!

  69. Jill says...

    My husband travels frequently for work, so I’ve become very adept at the solo meal over the years. Some of my go-tos are:
    – Shredded brussels sprouts from TJs sautéed with with chicken sausage and a dash of balsamic vinaigrette
    – Amy’s refried black beans + TJs frozen brown rice and any “burrito” toppings I have laying around like avocado, cheese, sour cream, salsa, etc.
    – Avocado toast with scrambled eggs on top
    – Ina Garten’s Easy Parmesan Risotto https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/easy-parmesan-risotto-recipe-2172312 – this cooks for 45 minutes so you need to plan ahead, but it is stupid easy to put together. If I’m feeling like I need some protein I will grab a rotisserie chicken to have with it. This can basically feed me for a week.

    Aaaand, in the spirit of full disclosure, the very first thing I usually have when I’m solo is a frozen Home Run Inn Pepperoni Pizza with Hidden Valley Ranch to dip it in. I got hooked on these pizzas when I lived in Chicago – so good!!

    • Maire says...

      Pizza + Ranch is the best!

  70. Lee says...

    Ruffles and sour cream with TJs Everything but the Bagel mixed in. And a glass of cold Rose.

    • Sandhya says...

      This sounds AMAZING!

  71. Claire says...

    When I am home alone I have the easiest thing possible, with as little clean up as possible. Often a baked potato, with roasted broccoli.
    Or black bean tacos.
    Or a salad.
    And I eat wearing my pajamas, sitting on the couch, while watching something fun on tv.

  72. Jenny says...

    Most of my meals are alone, unless you count my Australian Shepherd who waits all day to eat his kibble with me. I’m in medical school (at 30, and newly divorced, having spent a decade making nice-adjacent dinners for two) where, paradoxically, all the catered meals tend to be unhealthy at school. I love tossing asparagus (or broccoli rabe or kale or whatever I have aging in my crisper) with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and chili flakes in a hot cast iron in the oven. When it’s roasted, I make a nest in the green stuff and crack in two eggs. A handful of parm, more chili flakes and lemon go on top and it finishes in the oven. It takes zero prep, 20 minutes, and looks pretty on my luxuriously single plate.

    • Britt says...

      I do a version of this as a single bake, with potatoes, garlic, onions, eggs, and kale. Delicious! Will have to try the lemon in it though. In my book, lemon improves most dishes! :)

  73. Jane says...

    A 2 min recipe from pinchofyum.com :
    I blend an avocado with some or a lot Greek yoghurt, juice of one lemon or lime, salt, garlic powder, onion powder. Serve with tortilla chips and crudités. Done. Heaven.

  74. Whitney Olson says...

    I love Cracklin’ Oat Bran! I always roast veggies and heat up some chicken sausages (from costco) on a cookie sheet in my oven. Sometimes I’ll throw a Mac. & Cheese box at my husband and children and make myself my special meal. Everyone gets what they want.

  75. Donna says...

    Rice pudding, or boil up my favourite store-bought gnocchi. But lately it’s been store-bought frozen dumplings.

  76. emma says...

    Alexandra is basically my food spirit animal- I live off of popcorn & eggs! The zuni recipe came just in time for lunch and will definitely be a repeat!

  77. Laura says...

    I do that pasta and frozen peas thing pretty frequently actually, but adding the peas to the hot water while the pasta’s cooking = MIND BLOWN. Saves a step, and saves washing an extra pot.
    My life is changed!

    • Abesha1 says...

      Works with frozen corn, too… with olive oil, basil or cilantro, and feta…. delicious.

  78. Bonnie says...

    Some of these combinations are cracking me UP and clearly I need to try Cracklin’ Oat Bran! My favorite “me” meal is a Spanish tortilla with sliced potatoes, onion, evoo, salt and eggs, but never cooked until browned – just until it’s set. I eat too much of it every.single.time.

    • Sally K says...

      I need to try this again. The first time I made it I used the Sea Salt and Vinegar chips and didn’t like it at all. I think the Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper chips might be a better choice.

    • Bonnie says...

      Katrina – NO, I’d never heard of that tortilla shortcut! At first, I thought, “eww” … but thinking about the thicker chips soaking up the egg and not being as crunchy … now it’s an experiment that I must try. Thanks for the idea!

  79. Maire says...

    I love to make a riff on the Israeli sabich- pita bread (if I have it, but sandwich thins work too) spread with hummus and topped with sliced hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, and cucumber, maybe some feta for kicks. Also, I usually have an emergency Red Baron cheese frozen pizza in the freezer, and you just can’t beat a bowl of popcorn from the Whirly Pop with melted Kerrygold butter!

  80. Marisa says...

    When my husband’s out of town, I’ll rush to the store and buy some shrimp, as we don’t eat it when he’s home because he’s allergic. Then, I’ll saute it simply and combine it with arugula, avocado, tomatoes, and feta in a lemon vinaigrette. My favorite combo– it’s fast, easy and delish!

    • Mariana says...

      Me too! But I sautée the shrimp in lots of garlic and add in pasta.

  81. Nicole says...

    My favorite meal when I’m home alone is a package of Top Ramen. I add some spinach in the last few seconds of boiling the noodles and always add a 7 minute egg where the inside is cooked but still a tiny bit runny. Packaged ramen always reminds me of my childhood but I like to pretend this is an elevated (and less unhealthy) version of it with the spinach and egg.

  82. Alex says...

    i’ll do shrimp in a tomato and feta sauce. So easy – heat your favorite tomato sauce in a skillet with parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, and feta When it’s good and hot add seafood and cook for like 3 minutes just until shrimp go pink. Don’t overlook the shrimp! Eat with rice from the rice cooker. You could use frozen shrimp. Sometimes I add squid too. Tastes like a Greek island vacation!

  83. Betsy says...

    As the ONLY single person in my friend group, I often find myself without plans on a Friday night. It used to really bum me out and exacerbate my loneliness, but I’ve recently decided to embrace it and have been making myself lovely, but simple dinners on Friday nights. Last Friday it was simple pan roasted salmon filet with a miso-honey sauce and sauteed broccolini. Came together in about 20 minutes, paired with a glass of crisp processo and a good movie- suddenly the loneliness was gone and I was happy to be happily alone :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “Came together in about 20 minutes, paired with a glass of crisp processo and a good movie- suddenly the loneliness was gone and I was happy to be happily alone” = love that :)

    • Julie says...

      I used to look forward to my Friday night’s alone…I’d make a charcuterie board of my favs: blackberries, some new cheeses and meats, avocado, good bread. A good movie and some wine. Your Friday night sounds beautiful.

    • Britt says...

      This sounds lovely! In a similar boat after moving to a new state for work. Cooking for oneself can be such a great way of practicing self care :)

  84. Katie says...

    Smoothie bowls with ALL the toppings are an easy dinner that I often make solo.

    • Jill says...

      Smoothie bowl? What is this!?

    • AJ says...

      @jill
      A smoothie bowl is a fruit smoothie made really thick, so it is closer to ice cream, thick enough to eat with a spoon. The trick is to use frozen fruit and less liquid when blending. Toppings include granola, cut up fruit, chia seeds, nuts, shredded coconut, etc.
      Heaven.

  85. SB says...

    I’ll put a fried egg on anything and call it a meal… frozen veggies, toast, pizza, rice, lemony pasta.

  86. Sarah says...

    If I’m eating alone, I’ll probably do a half a loaf of baguette with goat cheese and dried apricots, and half a bottle of cold white wine or rose. Followed by some good-quality chocolate or a cookie.

    • MJ says...

      this sounds like my perfection!

  87. Vishakha Gupta says...

    It may seem like a lot of work, but a stir fry with tofu is my go-to on alone nights. I buy the precut veggies from trader joes, stir fry them for 15 minutes with sesame oil, top with a bit of stir fry sauce and fry or grill some tofu to throw on top. Alternatively, I make red lentil pasta with pesto sauce and sundried tomatoes.

    • BG says...

      this stir fry is my exact go-to! with TJs veggies it’s no work at all – the only thing i do different is throw in a pack of shirataki noodles!

  88. Marlena says...

    Oh man. My absolute favorite dish to eat when it’s just me is a HUGE plate of cheesy nacho tortilla chips. There is nothing fancy or healthy about this dish. It is downright embarrassing to admit the amount cheese I put on these things. We’re talking LAYERS.

    If I catch my reflection in the glass of our microwave while I’m waiting for them to melt into hot bubbly goodness, I will wink at myself for this dastardly thing I’m about to do. There is also usually a sort of sinister cackle that happens right before I shove them in my mouth. It’s bad. So so so bad.

    • Rachael says...

      I just had to stifle a squawk of laughter at my desk at work over your “dastardly wink” and “sinister cackle” – I am right there with you, Marlena!!

    • BG says...

      I am AMAZED reading all these gorgeous healthy meals people make when they’re alone! Alone time is when I want to pig out on treats!

  89. Betsy says...

    Breakfast for dinner for the win! Poached egg on toast, usually have a potato I can shred for hash browns. If i’m really crazy, I will take out a couple of slices of bacon from the freezer. I couldn’t complete the meal without a big glass of chocolate milk. Yum!

  90. Jenny says...

    I can’t remmeber the last time I’ve been alone for dinner, because small children, but Smitten kitchen stovetop mac & cheese is my go-to when my husband is out for dinner. Or any sort of simple pasta, always following the “add a pat of butter, splash of pasta water and lots of parm” directive at the end! An easy hit with me and the kiddos. The fried eggs and breadcrumbs have been on my list to make for awhile- definitely trying it this weekend.

  91. Denise says...

    I love an evening scrambled egg with cheese & salsa in a warm tortilla. Really basic and really good.

  92. mdipp says...

    My go-to meal is pita bread with some Labneh (strained yogurt) and arugula, whatever dried herbs I find on the drawer and a splash of olive oil on top. It’s delicious and ready in less than 5 minutes.

  93. isavoyage says...

    A croque-monsieur! Which is French for a cheese and ham grilled sandwich!
    The secret is to fry it slooooowly in a pan with a lid so that the inside stays moist while the outside iss nice and crispy.
    Want a croque-madame? Add a sunny-side up egg on top of your croque-monsieur (or make a hole in the upper toast, break an egg in it and let it cook slowly with the croque-madame, it’s even better this way).
    Ah, looking forward to my next solo meal!

  94. Esss says...

    My husband is vegetarian. I do eat some meat and am passionate about bacon, but it seems like a sad thing to cook when you can’t all enjoy, so I don’t keep meat in the house, and generally am the primary cook, focusing on healthy veggie meals. Except…whenever my husband is traveling, I buy a package of bacon and have BLTs for dinner every night. Sometimes with avocado, sometimes with an egg, sometimes as simple as can be. Always with a glass of white wine, bad TV, and probably some Ben and Jerry’s. When he returns, I return to our typical virtuous eating habits, and he is, none-the-wiser.

  95. Rachel says...

    I just did this last night–my husband wasn’t home for dinner and I was powering through a five page paper. Nacho cheese and tortilla chips for dinner-so good straight out of the jar :)

  96. I realize I could Google this, but I trust the commenters and contributors more … what is the secret to cooking steak on the stovetop without smoking up/stinking up your whole house?

    I also RARELY eat steak because of ethical/environmental concerns, but I would love to know the secret…

    • Sarah says...

      A really good vent/kitchen hood. Otherwise, you will always have a smoky and stinky house. Alas, I have never lived in a house with one. So, we invested in a grill with a side burner. If we want to deep fry/pan fry/sear/do anything that involves grease and smoke, outside it goes.

    • Julie says...

      I don’t usually have a problem with this in my cast iron-part of the trick is to let the steak come to room temperature for about an hour, then I sear for 4 minutes on the first side and then 2-3 on the second while basting with a (small) pat of butter. I get the pan super hot, but not to the point where it’s pouring smoke. Using the correct cooking fat is key too, if it has a lower smoking point like extra virgin olive oil it will smoke easily.

    • C. says...

      What Sarah says, and I agree that some smoke just comes with the steak territory.
      Here is how I do mine: preheat oven to 400-450. On top of the stove turn on the flame to medium high under a cast iron pan. No oil. Salt and pepper the steak, both sides. When the pan is good and hot put the steak in and sear it for maybe 5 minutes each side, then put the pan in the hot oven to finish it. Length of time will depend on the size and cut of your steak, but generally 7 or 8 minutes seems to give me a good medium rare. Finishing it in the oven like that will keep the smoke somewhat contained.

    • laetitia says...

      my butcher gave me this great trick once: Cook your steak in the oven, directly on the grill, on High broil mode, leaving the door of the oven slightly open. Few minutes on each side, and voila! Don’t forget to put a pan underneath to collect drippings – and no smoke in the kitchen ;)

  97. Heido says...

    Seems like we have a cookbook on our hands with all of these comments. Can we put all of these comments in a PDF/EBook?! COJ readers are just the best.

  98. Julie says...

    My husband has been travelling for work a lot lately, these are my go-to solo dinners:

    *Bagel chips topped with goat cheese, capers, and smoked salmon
    *Egg noodles with lemon juice and lots of cracked black pepper
    *Trader Joe’s orange chicken with a side of brown rice tossed with sambal oelek and scallions
    *Roasted Brussels sprouts (tossed with either balsamic, maple syrup and crushed red pepper flakes, or a miso glaze)
    *For Friday night dates with myself: a strip steak or ribeye, seared in the cast iron and served with mushrooms cooked in soy sauce and butter

  99. Michele says...

    I do a variation of the grilled cheese sandwich using brie and apricot preserves on Trader Joe’s Tuscan bread. Savory & Sweet! Or, if I have leftover roasted asparagus, I will do an omelette with that and feta or parm. Maybe some prosciutto if I have it (parm only).

    A note on the popcorn and beer. I am from the Midwest and love a ‘red’ beer with popcorn. Just add tomato juice or Clamato to a lighter beer. Yum!

    • Julie says...

      Red beer FTW (from a Nebraskan!)

  100. Sharon in Scotland says...

    Whatever vegetables I have…………..roasted and topped with 2 fried eggs, some hot sauce and maldon sea salt…………..never disappoints

  101. Ashley says...

    When I’m home alone, my guilty pleasure is a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza. And from the Target Pizza Hut no less. It makes me laugh just writing that.

    It’s not healthy by any means, but my husband doesn’t go out of town that often, so when he does, I don’t feel that guilty swinging by Target, picking up a PHPPP and enjoying it with a glass of wine.

    When my siblings find out that my husband will be out of town, they even ask if I’m stopping by Target for my dinner. 😂

    • HJM says...

      This is everything.

    • Kristina says...

      This is so hilarious and wonderful. I love to hear about people just treating themselves right with no reservations!

    • sarah morabito says...

      LOVE TJ PHPPP TOO!! best guilty pleasure. And fountain soda. It will undo me.

    • Stephanie Frederickson says...

      I used to eat that pizza when I was pregnant with my second child. My two year old would get her own and happily sit/eat in the cart while I happily shopped AND ate my own on our Target run. This was 10 years ago! It was a win for everyone involved. I’d forgotten about that pizza. Thank you for that lovely memory reminder. (And now I need to try the pizza with a glass of wine!)

    • Becca says...

      Yesssss agree!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      ashley, stephanie, you guys are all the best!!

    • Rachel says...

      Recently moved out of the US, and I’ve been desperately missing my favorite dinner of a pizza hut personal pan pizza (with meatballs) and an order of their cheesy bread sticks. That meal can always cheer me up.

  102. Elle says...

    My favorite is a can of refried beans, topped with cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and some lettuce; plus Tostitos Lime chips for scooping!

  103. Olivia says...

    Solo brinner for the win, always.

  104. Anne Pilcher says...

    My favorite part of this is when people add “and if I’m feeling fancy…” 😂

    • Claire says...

      ha! I love that part too.

  105. Jen says...

    Instant ramen but I doctor it up. Add an egg, scallions some left over veggies. My comfort food!

    • Marlena says...

      Ramen is the best and I end relationships with people who disagree with me on this. (I kid… kind of)

      My favorite is cooked but served without liquid, topped with a healthy dousing of Tapatio and eaten with chopsticks. This is literally the meal that helped form my youngest child in the womb, I ate it so much. I’m sure that is awful and means he is at risk for a million of the things now. But, welp. Sorry kid. Can’t stop.

  106. Liz says...

    On Tuesdays I have a pottery class and my fiancé has a standing cards night with his old colleagues. I’ve been stocking up on frozen TJs meals! My most recent favorite? Cauliflower fried rice with an egg scrambled in, plus some steamed dumplings. Yum!

  107. My boyfriend broke up with me last night, so my month of cooking for one also starts now! haha. I got SO many good ideas from this (esp the eggs in toasty breadcrumbs!), thank you <3

    • Julie says...

      So sorry, Melanie. I know the weirdness of a sudden change! (My husband announced this week he wants a divorce. Very suddenly.) Here’s to figuring out meals (and many other parts of life) newly for one — we can do it!

    • Julie, I’m so sorry to hear that. You sound like a strong person with a good heart — I’m sending you love. We CAN do it.

  108. Heather says...

    Eggs fried in breadcrumbs!!!!!

  109. Marnie says...

    Not quite the same but.. at the end of a horrid workday, I retreated to de-stress in the bath, leaving my partner on dinner & kids. He delivered me a warm, toasty, melty grilled cheese while I was still soaking in the tub. For me, that’s love.

    • Rachel says...

      Oh my god, now that’s a real fantasy! Telling my husband about this pronto!

  110. Lisa says...

    Cereal ftw. Ha ha ha and yes!

  111. Esther says...

    If I’m feeling sad about being alone for dinner, I’ll have a box of Annie’s, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a bottle of white wine. If I’m feeling happy about being alone, I might make spaghetti carbonara, chicken soup, or a chocolate layer cake all to myself. I resonate with Sarah’s love for cereal, what a wonderful invention.

  112. Twyla says...

    I always have naan bread in my freezer, so i take one of those out, smother it in hummus, top it with whatever I have on hand – peppers, ham, mushrooms, and some cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes and I’m as happy as a clam!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      This sounds SO good!

  113. Maggie says...

    This is me this week! My husband is out of town for work, and while I typically love cooking I was feeling a bit lackluster at the grocery store this week (and have plans with girlfriends 2 nights this week). Last night I had a big bowl of pasta with tomato pasta sauce mixed with some ricotta, topped with pepper, red pepper flakes and lots of parm. Nothing fancy but it hit the spot, and balances out tonight’s bill for girls night at a tapas and wine bar!

  114. Reg says...

    My staple from childhood (Korean mom) is a bowl of rice topped with an egg fried in sesame oil, drizzled with some soy sauce. I wrap each bite with roasted laver (which can be found at TJ’s and even Costco these days). If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll thrown some avocado in there as well. So satisfying.

  115. Amy P says...

    Fried eggs on heavily-buttered toast. Sometimes with sautéed greens on the side; sometimes with peanut-butter-and-banana toast, always with lemon ginger tea. Or plain yogurt with lots of homemade granola.
    I’m going to try the breadcrumb fried eggs next!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yum!!! I am starving reading these comments.

    • Sasha L says...

      Amy P, that’s exactly what I eat. We must be foodie soul mates.

      My only addition is oatmeal with a big scoop of PB and half a banana with some almond milk.

  116. Ann Sharfstein says...

    Fried egg and american cheese on whole wheat toast. Always!

    • Becky says...

      That sounds amazing. I think my version would be sourdough and cheddar. Look forward to trying this!

  117. Katrina says...

    I literally am eating a stovetop, tortilla pizza as I’m reading this. 😂

  118. Ali says...

    Cracklin’ Oat Bran is the best!

    • Hannah says...

      Seconded! I love Craclin’ Oat Bran!

  119. Carrie says...

    When my husband is out of town, I inevitably make some form of “gorp with a fried egg on top.” Roasted vegetables + cheese + fried egg. Chickpeas sauteed in a pan with herbs and tomatoes + fried egg. Leftovers + fried egg. Any vegetable I can find + canned beans + fried egg. Sometimes, if I’m feeling wild, I even toast a slice of bread in the pan with the egg.

  120. Erin says...

    ok, those sound SO good.

  121. Erin says...

    my go to is toast with fried eggs on top (seasoned with TJ’s everything bagel seasoning), showered in arugula and feta. I can make it in my sleep. I even make this as a late night drunk snack!

  122. Ro says...

    I steam up one of those pouches of instant rice, heat a can of black beans, and dump it all in a bowl. I melt cheese on top (this is all happening in the microwave), then squirt in some hot sauce. If I’m really feeling fancy, I’ll fry an egg and throw that into the mix. And finally, to inflate my ego a little, I’ll refer to it as a “deconstructed burrito,” even when nobody asks. :)

    • Sasha L says...

      At my preschool we call this taco bowl, for taco Tuesday. Rice, refried beans, salsa, cheese, corn, sour cream and tortilla chips, sometimes with scrambled eggs. Everyone loves it. I love that the refried beans make the rice a whole lot less messy for little kids to eat.

  123. Beth says...

    Cracklin Oat Bran! It’s so ugly but so good … going to buy some after work!

  124. Tess says...

    The absolute BEST source for one-person meals (and pretty much everything else) is of course Smitten Kitchen. My two favorites are Mushrooms and Greens with Toast and Eggs in Purgatory, Puttanesca style. Both come together in 5 minutes, use ingredients I always have around, and allow me to eat straight out of the frying pan which is the best!

    https://smittenkitchen.com/2015/05/mushrooms-and-greens-with-toast/

    https://smittenkitchen.com/2016/03/eggs-in-purgatory-puttanesca-style/

  125. Nikki says...

    Spaghetti and Beans! We use to eat this all the time growing up: thin spaghetti (I like the egg kind sold in the bag), a can of tomato sauce and a can of vegetarian baked beans with a ton of fresh ground pepper. It’s the best and brings me straight back home.

    (My grandma said this was an old Italian depression era recipes, but who knows)

  126. Kate says...

    I’ve been on a quick-quesadilla-dinner kick the last couple of weeks and it’s been so good. As long as I’m stocked with noodles, eggs, pesto, milk, cereal, broth, rice, and sweet potatoes, I can make some semblance of a meal to tide me over until I get my act together to meal plan!

  127. Sandhya says...

    I eat the same thing for dinner every night, and it’s ready in ~ 10 minutes. I mash garlic, put it in my non-stick pan with salt and hot red pepper, then add chicken tenders, sear them for ~ 1 minute on each side, and finally add diced tomatoes and fresh basil before turning down the heat to low, covering with a dinner plate, and turning on the timer for eight minutes. When the timer goes off, I have poached, tender chicken — I add parsley and freshly-grated Parmesan. It’s delicious, nutritious, and incredibly easy.

  128. Erin G. says...

    Three cheers for cold cereal!

    Two nights a week my son is with his dad and I like to spend that alone time indulgently (which, while I love cooking, does not include spending much time in the kitchen). I love to make my fave quick pasta: raw zucchini sliced on a mandolin or with a spiralizer – I prefer the texture of the former, smothered in too much Rao’s marinara and some (okay, a lot of) vegan parmesan (cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and some garlic powder blended to a powder) with a side salad of good quality greens and my fave bottled dressing (goodness, if you have access to this RUN to the store to buy some – I spent a few decades avoiding bottled salad dressing until a friend told about this one): Garlic Expressions (https://www.garlic-expressions.co). This dinner takes 5 minutes to make and I can eat it over and over and over again.

    • Kelly says...

      I had to reply to this because I LOVE GARLIC EXPRESSIONS!!!!!! Pretty much the only salad dressing I buy, and if I have to eat a salad without it, I get sad. My biggest fear is the garlic expressions people going out of business and eating sad salads for the rest of my life, so EVERYONE BUY GARLIC EXPRESSIONS I PROMISE THAT SHIT IS THE BOMB.

    • Danielle says...

      Oh my gosh I forgot about Garlic Expressions. I used to buy it all the time when I lived in Ohio. Now I’ve gotta see if I can find it in Colorado.

    • Becca says...

      Amazon!

  129. I will never get tired of an avocado and fried egg on toast with garlic powder and Tony’s seasoning on top. Delicious and filling!

  130. KL says...

    My grandma’s corn fritters are usually a go-to for solo dinners since my husband thinks they’re disgusting. Creamed corn from the can, flour, egg, baking powder, salt, a couple other things I can think of at the moment, mix it all up, pour it into a skillet like they’re pancakes, add some butter and grape jelly on top (trust me on this), and voila, the most sweet/savory thing you can whip up in about 10 minutes that you probably wouldn’t tell anyone you actually ate.

  131. Laura says...

    Frozen meatballs are great to have on hand for easy solo dinners. I pop them in the microwave for a couple minutes and make a quick dip with mayo, ketchup, and sriracha. Serve with a simple salad and you’ve got dinner in 5 minutes.

  132. Molly says...

    What perfect timing for this post. I just got off a conference call at 11:28am and was STARVING, so I decided to have an early lunch. (My husband is out of town on a business trip this week so our fridge is pretty much empty. I love to cook, but hate cooking for just one person. I digress.) I just whipped up one of my go-to lunch/dinners. I found a half-opened bag of frozen ravioli, added TJ’s olive oil marinated grilled artichokes, a tablespoon of capers and cut up half a container of grape tomatoes. Finished it off with a chopped garlic clove and a pour of opened raos tomato sauce and a few grates of parm. BOOM – a delicious lunch for one. I also have enough for tomorrow’s lunch too. I was completely done eating and cleaned the dish by 12:05 pm.

  133. Amanda says...

    Cracklin’ Oat Bran was always my favorite as a kid!!

    I’m super classy and go for making some Annie’s macaroni and cheese. Because it’s Annie’s, I feel better about it than if it was Kraft, haha, plus I don’t have to share with my husband if I don’t want to :)

    • Esther says...

      If hippy moms feed Annie’s to their kids, it must be good for you, right!

  134. Elizabeth says...

    a fridge clearing “snack plate” for dinner with whatever is around: pickles, olives, sundried tomatoes, cheese, crackers, nuts, sliced apples, even chocolate…and wine.

    • Anna says...

      Elizabeth, here’s another “snack plate” vote! Cheese, rice crackers, fermented carrot sticks or other pickles, nuts, salami, bits of leftovers…eaten absent-mindedly with fingers, in bed with a book and wine.

  135. katie says...

    What a great post and topic for the month. My three favorite solo meals:

    1. Scrambled eggs with my favorite local hot sauce, Co-op , and avocado slices.

    2. Linguine with butter or EVOO, chopped parsley, fresh grated parmesan and green olives.

    3. This will probably be totally gross to some and the husband hates it (which is why I do it when he’s out of town), but I’ll open up a can of smoked oysters, a bottle of wine, some crackers and maybe some cheese or olives or both – Dinner Served!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I never think to put olives on a simple pasta but that sounds so good and briny!

    • S says...

      Yes! Smoked oysters on crackers is one of my fave solo meals. My husband does NOT get it either so I only partake when he is not there to make snide comments.

    • Katie says...

      My sisters and I learned that trick from our mom and it’s a staple we all still enjoy!

  136. Lisa says...

    I usually grab whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, chop and saute them with an egg, turmeric, salt and pepper, served over a sweet potato and top with feta, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and the best topper of all – avocado.

  137. Sarah says...

    I wish this was written last week, since my husband gets home from a week away later today! One of my staples is sauteed vegetables (greens, cauliflower, broccoli, whatever) with preserved lemons, served with either popcorn or scrambled eggs and sometimes the crumbs of whatever my kids had or dinner. And it’s always eaten while watching trashy tv my husband abhors :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes to trashy TV!!!

  138. Heidi says...

    I realize this is gauche but you can’t beat melted cheese on top of tortilla chips. Add a little salsa and greek yogurt on top and avocado if you’ve got one. Crunchy, salty, cheesy, spicy and creamy. Like Queen Ina says.. “How bad could that be?”

    • Tasha says...

      Have done this for decades! It’s known as “chips and cheese” in my house.

    • Em says...

      Nachos are gauche?! We love gauche food in my house, then, apparently. We put sliced green olives and jalapenos on them and add diced raw cucumber after they come out of the oven. Sounds weird, is yummy! Buttering the pan is a must . . .

    • Never realized it was gauche – this is a favorite in our house for snacks. I would eat it for a solo dinner in a heartbeat!

    • lomavistagirl says...

      This is a staple in my house! I often add a layer of canned black beans under the cheese.

    • Heidi says...

      I hereby declare cheese chips not gauche, then!

    • Ann says...

      Omg! I forgot how much I love nachos/“chips and cheese”, I am a dairy-town Midwesterner who now lives in a house of lactose intolerant people (it’s ok to feel for me…), This is my next night alone must do. Heck, I think I might just have to invite the neighborhood women who may have forgotten how much they also love nachos…. Thanks for the inspiration!

  139. DN says...

    I keep extra Robert frozen Baby Sinclair pizza’s in my freezer as well, but I top them with anchovies and olive oil, and sometimes a little extra grated parmesan–so good!

  140. Katie H says...

    A bowl of saucy pasta (Rao’s jarred or olive oil/garlic/chili/anchovy) with all of the grated parm I’d not usually consume in public. All of it. I’m talking small mountains of grated parm.

  141. Kate says...

    I’m a grilled cheese artist! I don’t make it the same every time- but I always have cheese, butter, and bread- so I mix it up! Sometimes I add mustard or pickles or tomatoes, sometimes I dip it in jam, sometimes I heat up a can of tomato soup. Or fork and knife it with a runny egg on top. Grilled cheese is my go-to meal for one, and I don’t take it lightly!

    • Meghan says...

      OMG. Yes, we call it ultimate grilled cheese! #UGC

  142. Eloise says...

    Ohhhhhh….I forgot all about Cracklin’ Oat Bran. Yummy!

  143. Emily says...

    An egg sandwich with cheese, spinach, and grainy nutty bread. It always hits the spot, and its quick!

  144. Kate says...

    My most favorite me meal is cold shredded chicken dipped in mayo mixed with Crystal hot sauce, with a glass of white wine on the side. It’s true bliss.