Cooking for one gets a bad rap. Hell, cooking in general does, often being seen as a laborious chore rather than an activity many people genuinely enjoy.
Every year for my birthday I make a fancy cheesecake to enjoy with my friends, family, co-workers or whoever happens to be celebrating with me that year. I’m often met with questions like “Why the hell would you cook on your own birthday? Shouldn’t someone else be doing that for you?” Even those who know me well seem to forget that I enjoy cooking and baking, and why wouldn’t I want to do something I enjoy on my birthday?
Judith Jones, author of the classic cookbook The Pleasures of Cooking for One, puts it perfectly:
“If you like good food, why not honor yourself enough to make a pleasing meal and relish every mouthful?”
Another way of looking at it, if you wish, is that you’re never really cooking alone. Laurie Colwin, a columnist for Gourmet Magazine, once said:
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
Whichever way you prefer to approach it, here are four reasons cooking for one is actually awesome.
1. You have only yourself to please
Cooking for one is the culinary equivalent of being alone in your apartment, walking around in your underwear and basically doing whatever the f**k you want. When you’re the only one who will be eating the food you cook, yours and only your satisfaction matters. Cooking for others is fantastic as well, but it can be challenging and a bit limiting to make food that will please everyone.
Love cilantro? Put it all over your food and don’t worry about anyone complaining that it tastes like soap. Love garlic? Use so many cloves that it’ll be coming out of your sweat glands. Low tolerance for spicy? Keep it mild. It’s up to you.
2. You can let your creativity run wild
Only having yourself to please also means you can let your creativity have absolute free reign. You can take risks and try things you’ve never tried before, without worrying about what happens if you screw up and end up with something unpalatable. Worst case scenario, you throw it away and order takeout. We’ve all been there.
Take advantage of this creative freedom and be bold with your cooking. Experiment with new flavors, ingredients, gadgets and cuisines. It’s the best way to learn and grow as a cook.
3. It’s your “you” time
I find cooking for myself to be extremely therapeutic. It’s my escape from anything that’s stressing me out, bringing me down or distracting me. Nothing else matters at the time, and I lose myself in it.
Make solo cooking your “you” time – not just because you’re cooking for yourself, but in terms of the process as well. Put on your favorite music, movie or TV show. Have a glass of wine. Light candles. Do whatever makes it feel like yours and helps you get in touch with your truest self.
4. It’s an act of self-care
Food is love, and not just when cooking for others. It can be a form of self-love and care as well. Feeding yourself with a delicious, quality, home-cooked meal is a way of telling your body and soul that they matter. Tune into what you need, and give it to yourself. When you need to treat yo’self, make your favorite comfort food. When you need to focus on your health, cook yourself a light and nutritious meal. When you’re sick, cook something with healing ingredients.
You’re the most important person you have. Cook and feed yourself accordingly, without shame.