Cooking and eating alone can be difficult for people of any age. However, there are many ways to make it more fun, depending on how you are feeling on a given day or your preferences in general.
By Rufaida Shamead
To make your eating experience more pleasurable, begin with the setting. Set the table with flowers, a placemat, napkin and even candles, and put on some background music. Consider a change of location, such as moving your dining to the porch, near a window or even to the park for a picnic. Treat yourself occasionally to dinner out at a restaurant. Often, you won’t be able to eat the entire plate of food, and shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for the leftovers to take away. They will surely taste delicious on another day.
If you want to take a break from cooking at your stove, try concocting a sandwich, wrap or salad. A hardboiled egg, whole-grain crackers, cheese and fruit makes a tasty light lunch. There are ready-made meals available at the grocery store, such as grilled salmon with roasted vegetables or lasagne with a leafy green side salad. Convenience food can be used to make simple meals, such as frozen vegetables for a stir-fry or cheese tortellini heated with low-sodium canned tomatoes. Finally, consider using Meals on Wheels a few times a week.
There are nutritional benefits to eating with others, so try finding companionship. Consider starting a supper club, which will help you to meet new people. For example, you could share a potluck dinner with friends or form a regular lunch group. Creating an eating club such as a SOUPer Supper Club is another great idea, whereby the host makes soup and others bring bread, salad or fruit. Join a collective kitchen, or share cooking with friends by finding a place where a few of you can meet to plan, shop and prepare several meals together. Take those meals home, freeze them and reheat them when you don’t feel like shopping or cooking.
These are just some ideas to consider for your mealtime as a senior living alone. You can always ask other seniors who are alone for ideas and suggestions and share your ideas with them, including exchanging recipes. Enjoy the companionship of any grandchildren you might have by teaching them how to cook or bake. They will feel proud to be able to cook for you in return for using what you have taught them. But if none of these suggestions seems appealing and you have lost your appetite for more than a day or two, think about talking with your doctor or ask for a referral to a dietitian.
Rufaida Shamead, BA Linguistics, is an editorial assistant at BCS. She is passionate about research that is meant to improve the lives of others. Previously, she worked as a tutor helping students in math and reading.