Is cooking for one worth it? Absolutely.

Although I definitely didn’t feel this way a couple of years back. As someone who lives alone, I was one of those people who hated cooking and to be honest, didn’t think it was worth all the effort of laying out the cutlery, spending half an hour whipping up an exciting meal, and then tackling all the washing up, just for little old me.

Why bother with all the effort? I’m only going to eat it in front of the TV solo, or if I’m feeling really rushed, wolf it down over the kitchen counter in ten seconds flat. Hardly seems worth the bother.

Whilst cooking for yourself might not be a regular possibility with a busy lifestyle, I found the act of cooking for myself occasionally (and I mean something other than a microwave meal, simple recipe, or the tried and tested regulars on the weekly menu I was so used too) a self-affirming ‘You Are Worth’ it act.

Because seriously, why aren’t we worth the effort? Why does being single or living alone, mean not worth it, but duo or more, totally worth the time?

I used to think I thought this way as a good meal would only go to waste if enjoyed by just myself. But then a couple of years back I decided that I deserved something more than my aging list of regular dinner options. Why was I not giving my taste buds something else to enjoy just because it was only for me? I deserved good food, whether that was eaten with company or not.

One of the challenges I’ve always found with living alone, is making enough food just for myself. It’s tricky creating a dish just the right size for one person. That’s where my simple tried and tested recipes, or meal for one frozen meals worked quite nicely. But then I started cooking meals that I could easily batch freeze. Which meant a delicious meal cooked from scratch, enjoyed multiple times over the course of the month. And suddenly it didn’t seem so un-worth it.

It also resolved my issues with washing up

Living alone with no dishwasher (other than my own bodily utensils), washing up has never been a fun chore. But it feels worth the minor hassle when you’re washing up items that have been involved in creating multiple dishes, rather than just the one. Plus, I know later in the month I’ll have nights where I only need to wash the freezer storage box, plate and cutlery. Pretty decent win in my eyes.

Also something I didn’t know before I started spending more time cooking for me, but have certainly felt the benefits of since, is that cooking and baking are quite therapeutic. In her article, ‘The Emotional Benefits of Cooking’, Melissa Locker explains how studies have found cooking to be good for the soul and it makes people feel happier and more relaxed. Soothes stress and boosts creativity. And helps people feel even more enthusiastic about the day ahead. Cooking is a great emotional wellbeing tool.

I can totally relate to this.

Cooking has never been a huge love of mine

My recipe repertoire incorporated about seven different dishes. Pasta, rice or salad based. Mainly because these dishes were quick and simple, easy go tos. But then I started targeting myself with creating one new recipe a month. And I totally felt gratification when I cooked a first time recipe. I loved becoming more creative as my cooking skills developed. Felt a real sense of accomplishment when I baked up something I’d never made before. And I actually started to get really into researching the next recipe I’d try out, planning the ingredients I’d need, and carving out time on a weeknight or weekend to put everything together.

This isn’t a plug (or at least not one I’m benefitting from in any way) but a friend introduced me to HelloFresh a few months back and since then, every five weeks or so I’ll invest in a Hellofresh box of new recipes to try out. Recipe card instructions make it super easy if you’re an underconfident cook. And I’ve learned so many tips (like how to perfectly cook Basmati rice. Seriously, I’ve been doing it wrong for thirty plus years). I strategically select dishes I know will be easy to freeze (the Veggie Cajun Stew and Mushroom Tagliatelle being my faves) meaning I always have delicious meals to enjoy in a matter of minutes at another time.

Each meal is supposed to make two portions, but the portions are quite decent, so normally I add some additional pasta / passata / crème freche or whatever ingredient is in the recipe that will bulk it up further to create three or four portions that can be saved for another time. There are of course, many other companies out there like HelloFresh. And at some point, I’ll be checking out those guys too.

We all love to have a good chat about food, right?

Not that I’m antisocial by any means. But I work from home as well as live alone. Sometimes my social skills don’t feel quite up to socializing past 5pm on a Wednesday night, even though I know it would be good for me to occasionally see another human being in person between Monday – Friday. But this newfound love for trying out new recipes, also lead me to being a little more social throughout the week.

“What you having for lunch, dinner, what’s that delicious looking snack you’re munching on?” “Have you watched The Great British Bake Off?!” We love all things food related and ask people stuff like this regularly. So naturally, I shared a pic or two of some of my (none GBBO worthy) Hellofresh dishes, and another friend had just started using them too.  We began chatting about what dishes we’d ordered that week, and then decided that every now and then we’d go round and cook a meal for one another so we got to try out more recipes.

If you live alone and definitely feel like its not worth cooking just for yourself. You totally are worth that time and effort

You have you to cook, and you to cook for. Sounds pretty worth it to me. Added bonuses are that if you opt for batch cooking meals it saves time in the long run, and its way cheaper overall as you are batch buying ingredients too and instantly using them. Plus cooking is one of those simple pleasures that brings out a lot of feel good factors, boosts overall wellbeing, and unleashes your creativity.  

Is cooking for one worth it? Absolutely!

By Amy Roullier
By Amy Roullier

Amy is the Founder and Editor of The Authentic Optimist. She talks all things life. From the highs to the lows, to all those messy bits in-between. She is a writer, rambler, lover of carbs (her true soulmate) and she is especially passionate about dispelling myths about women in their 30s. Amy lives in Lincolnshire with her two greyhounds.