What Do We Eat When We Eat Alone?

What an intriguing question! When ‘no one is looking’ what do we reach for? Do we still bother with a proper meal, complete with plates and cutlery and a napkin? One of our favorite cookbook authors Deborah Madison and her artist husband Partick McFarlin have taken up this question and turned it into lovely new book, just released last week. We’re still waiting for our copy to arrive, but until then this video is a delightful exploration into how wonderfully different, and yet the same, we can be.

What do you eat when you eat alone? A few of us from The Kitchn answered that question, below the jump. But even more, we want to hear from you. Let’s us know your answer in the comments!

Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan: I have a joke that when I’m alone I eat “white wine and cheerios” – which is a euphemism for a totally unbalanced meal. (We never even have Cheerios in the house, so it’s just a placeholder for kind of fluff food.) When I’ve considered this question before (why don’t I go all out when I’m alone – I’m a food writer after all!?) – what it comes down to is that a good portion of my cooking pleasure has to do with cooking for other people. Also, for me, eating is social, so if I’m eating alone I usually take advantage of this rare moment to eat lightly. Could be a yogurt, could be a little salad, could be leftovers.

Emma Christensen: When I eat alone, I go one of two ways: I’ll either revert back to guilty pleasures that aren’t really a complete meal or necessarily all that interesting (a bowl of popcorn, eggs and toast, plain miso soup). Or I go in the opposite direction and try something completely new that I know my fiance probably wouldn’t like! This is when I experiment with strange spice combinations, a new ingredient, or a recipe I’ve had stored away for a while. I think I do this because, whether or not the dish turns out, I’m the only audience and the only one who knows.

Also, when I’m alone, I often eat standing up, at the counter, with a book propped open under the rim of the plate.

Elizabeth Passarella: I second the “white wine and cheerios” meal, although mine is more like “gin and an old tortilla with peanut butter.”

I never buy stuff to make a particular meal for myself- I definitely scavenge in the fridge and use what’s there. Egg salad is popular, since my husband won’t eat it. I’ve eaten an entire bunch of kale chips more than once. Saturday I was having brunch/lunch alone, and I cooked some spaghetti, scrambled an egg in it, and added bacon and parmesan- sort of a ad-hoc version of carbonara.

Dana Velden: Usually when I eat alone, I wait until I’m really hungry before I start cooking. So whatever it is, it has to be quick. For the longest time it was variation on bread and cheese: grilled cheese, quesadillas made with Trader Joe’s flatbreads, even just cheese and crackers if I’m really pushed. These days I’m refining things a bit and my most favorite thing to make is a fried egg with breadcrumbs, especially if I can sneak in some greens on the side like sauteed kale or asparagus.

If it’s dinner, I always pour a glass of nice wine. No matter what I’m eating, a glass of wine makes it a little more special. It’s rare for me to do the whole plate/napkin/candles/dining room table thing, however.

Faith Durand: I usually eat egg-with-something, or else something bad, like leftover pie!