Full disclosure: I'm writing this as a married woman. But rest assured, I've spent my share of evenings (almost 15 years' worth) eating a bowl of pasta standing over the sink when I lived alone. Popcorn and chardonnay anyone? It was one my favorite go-to dinners.
Remember the days when Carrie Bradshaw and her glamorous friends depicted the perfect single-girl life on HBO? They always seemed to be dining, and most definitely drinking, but not once were they shown eating in their own kitchens (unless it was takeout as foreplay for the real main course).
Unlike Carrie's gang, I didn't have the funds to eat out at the hottest spots in town each night, and frankly I don't think there were any in the small town where I had my first apartment.
A few simple strategies helped me develop healthy eating habits.
1. Make the freezer your friend.
Almost anything can go into the freezer. Wrap a chicken cutlet, or even an entire meal, in an individual serving size. Make large batches of soup, chili, or spaghetti sauce and put into individual-size containers. Either take it out in the morning to defrost, or use the microwave for a quick thaw.
2. Try the ploughman's approach.
Cheese, fruit, and bread can be a satisfying and simple meal. Spruce it up with things like veggies, hummus, nuts, pita bread, and tapenade, or let your creativity take over. This is one of our favorite weekend meals in our house. Plus, I love how there's practically no clean up.
3. Work in the veggies.
Though I prefer fresh veggies, there's no harm in keeping a bag of frozen mixed vegetables on hand. Take out just what's needed (reseal the bag) and toss into water while it's boiling for pasta. Or stock up on frozen spinach or cauliflower to thaw and puree for soups.
4. Prep ahead.
This is the one strategy that helps tremendously in our house. We cook most of our meals at some point over the weekend. Then we're assured that during the week, no matter how crazy our schedules get, or how exhausted we might be, a healthy meal is waiting and only needs to be heated and we're good to go. In addition to main courses, this includes things like making a pot of brown rice for the week, cooking up a couple of vegetables in advance, or even just purchasing a rotisserie chicken and taking meat of so that it can be thrown into salads, used as a main course or added to make a heartier soup.
5. Try a quickie.
No, I'm not referring to the Sex and the City girls again, but there are many other types of quickies which are equally healthy. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Scrambled eggs — toss in veggies, or stir in some salsa to spice it up
- Multigrain toast with avocado slices — add salt and cayenne pepper, yum!
- Baked sweet potato — toss on some butter, cinnamon or nutmeg for deliciousness
- Mini pizza — use a small whole grain shell, toss on veggies and cheese
Finally there's always the "go big and go home" strategy. Order a big lunch and take half home. Leftovers are always a winner in my book!
With these simple tips, you'll be able to save time, savor your food and still have energy for the more important single girl stuff... and surprisingly, if you find yourself adding a husband or kids to the mix, the strategies still work!