Food for a single person…

Wandering around the shops, listening to the radio and even watching television is currently reminding me that I am still single. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I am being bombarded with offers for the perfect meal in the perfect restaurant. Everything comes in twos, two for the price of one, a bottle of wine for two and even a relaxing and/or romantic weekend for two. The only thing that these places are not seemingly providing is the other person to actually enjoy the experience with. But I am beginning to think that it is not only at Valentine’s day that being single puts me at a disadvantage since I am actually having more problems every week actually shopping for food as a single person.

By the time you get to my age (cough, cough, splutter, splutter) the chances of actually finding anyone to settle down with is very remote. I’ve been single for many, many years and can’t really remember ever even going on a date let alone having a relationship or a date on Valentine’s Day! Single life has its advantages, I can get up when I want, my humble abode stays clean unless I dirty it and there is never a fight/argument over what to watch on the television. But one aspect of single life which really does bug me is when I go shopping for food. It would appear that I am at a definite disadvantage when it comes to what I would like to buy and eat. On my radio show last Wednesday I told the story of the lady who feeds herself, daughter and husband on £1 per person a day. She has a blog and some of the meals look very tasty if a bit spicy for me! But would it be possible for me to feed myself for £1 per day making my total food bill coming in at £7.00 a week! Well possibly yes, but I think that every meal would have to be the same. So why is it difficult to be single and shop – well here are my three reasons.

  • Why is everything is even? – Being a mathematician I like numbers especially if they are palindromes or have some special value like being a squared or prime number. When I was at school you used to get textbooks at the start of the year with a number in them. You had to sign your name against the number in the book and return it to the teacher at the end of the year. One year, and I kid you not about this, I actually got the number thirteen in all of the textbooks! From that point, thirteen become my lucky number, only to be accompanied by seven sometime later since I actually feel sorry for the digit. Odd numbers are great, but get little love. It would appear that supermarkets are not keen on odd numbers at all and actually don’t like using them. As I walk around the supermarket looking for meals, everything appears to come in multiples of two – with two being the basic packaging number. Two fish, two cakes, even two garlic! Coupled with this are the serving suggestion which usually, if you can find it on the back of the package, states – feeds or serves two. And, if it is not two, its four or six. Four hot cross buns, six apples and even twelve bread rolls. I am thinking that it must be something to do with the packaging, but it would be nice to have one of something, or three or even, heaven forbid, seven! Or maybe just a single serving. Fresh pasta for one, one small cupcake or even one portion of rice. It is like the supermarkets are constantly reminding me of my singleness – sometimes I even think, as I pick up the double portion of pasta, that I hear a slight snigger.

  • Smaller packages – Being a veggie/vegan I do eat a lot of vegetables. I often enjoy looking around the fruit and vegetable section of supermarkets looking at the range of fruit and vegetables available, especially if there is something new which I haven’t seen or heard of before. I rarely buy it since I am not that brave and like my routines, but it is interesting to look and imagine a weekly menu which is both varied and adventurous. As I go round to collect my vegetables for the week, there are certain items which for me, as a single person, are so easy to buy. I can buy ‘loose’ mushrooms and ‘loose’ carrots. These veggies are perfect for me as a single person, I can buy just enough for one or even two meals and that’s it. But unfortunately I can’t do this with all the items and even some items don’t even come in smaller packages. An example of this is my personal ‘bugbear/beef’ with Sainsburys at the moment who used to sell small packets of grapes. They don’t sell them loose any more, possibly since I see so many people walking around eating them and just paying for half the quantity that it must have become unprofitable to sell them like this. But the small packages were sealed and there was the perfect amount for me for a few days. They have now stopped selling these and you can only buy what I class as the couple pack or the family pack. Both of which contain enough grapes to last a month for me! Yes I can buy these and just stuff my face full of grapes or, and I do consider this, see if I can find someone who wants to share the pack – buy it, and then split the cost and the pack after the till. Maybe I have failed to recognise that selling things in bigger packs is actually the supermarkets attempt as the dating game!

  • Waste and sick of the same – And this brings me to my final grumble about shopping and eating as a single person. Most people write a menu for the week, and I don’t because I am not really that organised, to show what meals they will be having. I always imagine that it shows a different meal every night with very few meals repeated. There might be left overs being utilised but this would probably be used for lunches and snacks the following day rather than the main meal. Due to the number in a pack and the size of the packages, my weekly menu appears to be somewhat different. For example, I really like asparagus. Not only is it tasty but you can boil it, steam it or, my favourite, griddle it or even just cut it up and throw it into a stir fry. I succumbed today and bought a bag of asparagus even though I know I have instantly doomed myself! As I put the pack into the fridge (not sure where to store vegetables so everything lives in the fridge) I know that I am destined for a week of asparagus. Everything this week, apart from breakfast and sandwiches, is going to have to have asparagus in it until I have used it up. I really like to have an empty fridge at the end of the week so that I am not wasting food. It almost seems criminal to be throwing food away which I cannot eat and so I will plough my way through the asparagus until it has been eaten. I frequently buy frozen vegetables mainly because I can store these for months and not have to eat the whole bag in a week. It would be lovely to be able to buy fresh veggies and food and just buy enough for a meal for one.

  • I’m not a great cook or even a great foodie. I really only know how to do the simple meals and, due to dietary restrictions, what I can actually eat is not vast although there is some variation possible. What I would like to be able to do is walk into a supermarket and buy the correct amount of food I need for my single meals throughout the week and not be encouraged to buy more and having to live off it for the rest of the week. If I was really into food, I would probably be able to sit down and create a few weeks of meals which would fit into the perfect shopping for one. However I have neither the time nor the expertise for this. So as you sit down to enjoy the variety of food which frequents your plates this week, please spare a thought for me who will be having everything with asparagus for the week and yes, before you ask and I know you are all wondering, I can smell it…

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    Have fun and I’ll catch you all later and, until then, consider yourself waffled!

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