How I Might Eat if I Lived Alone

Kitchen Diary: Anne in South Carolina

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My family is out of town. Three sons and one husband, gone to the mountains for an entire week. I've been here alone, with just one adorable dog for companionship, in what feels like a mansion.

They left me with a fridge full of groceries, and I decided to play a little game called, "Let's not spend money on food for one whole week." I won.

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There are no rules, other than ones like, "If you want to eat cheese and crackers, with a side of white wine, for dinner, that is just fine" and "If you are out of coffee, walking the dog to Dunkin' Donuts and buying a coffee doesn't count as buying groceries, especially if you buy it with change from the sofa."

This week, I learned how I would eat if I lived alone, with no one else to feed, no one to judge my choices, and no one who needed me to set a good example.

This one time? I had Diet Coke for breakfast. Yeah. And it was kind of delightful. I also made a what's-left-in-the-veggie-drawer quesadilla-type thing. What was left? Half an avocado, some salad greens, a little queso fresco, and some refrigerator pickled jalapeños. I also learned that, as long as I know no one is using them to wipe up unseemly things, I am totally fine with using the previous day's dishtowel as a napkin.

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I like salad, like, a lot of salad. I made Faith's kale salad, Mark Bittman's kimchi-style coleslaw, and a few I made up myself, including one with watermelon, black cherry tomatoes, queso fresco, basil, and just a little lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. I also like rosé, judging from my recycling bin for the week.

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Speaking of Faith's kale salad, the day-old version is also delicious dressed up as a quesadilla. It pairs beautifully with Dunkin' Donuts decaf.

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I also used my seemingly huge home for entertaining, having at least four people in for dinner or snacks every night my family was gone. One night, I made shrimp and grits for some out of town guests. Two nights later, I spread the leftover grits in a casserole dish, added a layer of loosely scrambled eggs, added another layer of the shrimp and tomato mixture, topped the whole thing with the last bit of Parmesan and some more bacon, and served it as Breakfast Casserole for Dinner. Hooray!

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I learned something else this week. Though just as many people, if not more, ate dinner here every night that my family was gone, the house stayed clean. We have a cleaner come in for a few hours on Mondays, and I revel in the sparkliness for a few hours before it gets destroyed. Don't get me wrong. I love having three sons, and I love when their friends visit. My life would be empty without crumpled socks throughout the house, apple cores on side tables, and random electronics chargers and sports equipment everywhere, even where one would least expect.

But it sure was cool that the house was still sparkly by Friday! This may have something to do with the fact that none of my friends ever do things like take off their boxers in the living room and leave them there. I have pretty great friends.

Tonight is my last night home alone. I'm having a quiet night in, with just two dear, long-time friends. What's left in the fridge? Just enough food to make a cheese and cracker appetizer, some kind of kale salad with lardons, and a casserole with patty pan squash, tomatoes, the last of the queso fresco, and some breadcrumbs. Want to come over?

Do you eat differently when you're on your own? What's your favorite guilty pleasure meal? Mine is definitely fancy cheese and crackers with a side of wine, or Diet Coke.

(Image credits: Anne Wolfe Postic)