During this first half of February, food-focused sites are awash in romantic meals for two but, in a lot of ways, eating with another person is overrated. Not only do you have to worry about stuff in your teeth, but you have to predict how the meal is going to make you feel (or smell). It’s a little exhausting, which is why eating alone on Valentine’s Day actually kind of rules.
Not only are you free to craft a meal to your exact specifications, you can use and abuse the discounts and deals on wine, steak, lobster, and any other “amorous” foods that happen to be on sale. (Get chocolate the day after, however. The day-after chocolate sale cannot be beat.) I believe that everyone has a collection of food things they’d rather enjoy away from prying eyes, and we’ve rounded up ours to share with you.
Many bags of popcorn
My preferred single meal isn’t so much a “meal” as a bag (or two) of microwave popcorn with garlic powder and parmesan cheese thrown in. Yes, out of the bag, obviously, so that I can lick the butter off of my hands when I’m done. Dessert!
– Alicia Adamczych, Personal Finance Writer
My ideal eating alone meal is Kraft Mac & Cheese for a few key reasons. First, I hate cold or reheated mac & cheese, so I always have to eat all of it in one sitting. No excuses. Already, it’s the perfect guilty pleasure for one. Second, there is absolutely nothing romantic about that fake cheese packet stuff that comes with easy mac.
It’s a mess. It tastes delicious. It makes you feel like you’re three years old when you’re stirring it in to your butter-and-milk-drenched noodles. Third, haters gonna hate, and I bet there are plenty of people out there who would judge a 34-year-old man for surrendering to the most basic of palates every now and then. So, I do that in my personal time and leave the fancier dining for dates. Anyone up for some Olive Garden breadsticks? My treat.
– David murphy, senior tech editor
Stacks (of cheese) on stacks (of other things)
My go-to single-gal-at-home meal is variations of “things on top of other things.” In lieu of deciding or trying to make something look nice, I get out some bread or crackers along with just about everything in my fridge I might want—pickled veggies, good olives, hummus, cheese, meats, avocado, whatever else I might want to spread on a carb base and snack on.
From there I can graze however I want to, without having to make my little forest of jars and containers on the table look presentable. Also, I love a solo cheese and cracker plate. I like some pretty smelly cheeses, and also generally want all of them for myself, so it’s a meal best consumed alone.
– virginia k. Smith, Managing Editor
A garlicky steak dinner
Though I love a meal of cheese and all the pickled things, if I truly want to celebrate the joys of being alone, I treat myself to a retro-inspired steak dinner. I get a very large rib eye, baste it in butter, and serve it with a wedge salad (with lots of red onion), a loaded baked potato, and a whole head of roasted garlic for mashing into the potato and onto the steak.
Buying a steak for one means you can buy a more expensive steak, eat it all, and not worry about being too full (or too garlicky) for other, partnered activities. Oh, and I usually enjoy a bottle of wine by myself. Ofclaire does not drink, but I don’t love sharing anyway.
– Claire lower, food & beverage editor
Extreme buttered noodles
My solo meal of choice is buttered noodles with cottage cheese. I got sad just typing that. It’s what I ate as a child — it’s possible that I refused to eat anything except for this, with the occasional hot dog — and it remains satiating and soothing. I will not suggest a TINY BIT of ketchup because that would be GROSS! I also identify very deeply with David’s mac & cheese description, except for the part about being a 34-year-old man.
– Melissa Kirsch, Editor-in-chief
My wife and I eat pretty much anything in front of each other, but she cannot abide me cooking salmon in the house. Tilapia gets a pass, but salmon fills the place with its fishy stench ‘til morning. So it’s my secret single meal to cook when she’s out of town. I even have to take the trash out before she gets back.
– nick douglas, staff writer
I have a lot of preferred single meals, but my favourite is probably getting a table for one at this Korean chicken wing place (shout out to Bon Chon, it’s life-changing). I order a twelve-piece meal. It’s VERY hard to eat daintily and my hands look like I escaped a crime scene. I will never take my partner there if I want to retain any attractive qualities
– Josh ocampo, staff writer
Taco Bell, by myself. I’m not ashamed that a Quesarito is my comfort food, but I know better than to expect others to feel the same.
– Beth Skwarecki, health editor
Forbidden Thai food
My single person meal is Pad See Ew because my Filipino boyfriend resents the popularity Thai food has in America, so when he’s gone I take the opportunity to order some spicy Thai noodles
– joel kahn, senior video producer
More Kraft, plus anchovy pizza
Shitty Kraft-style mac & cheese. My boyfriend is VEHEMENTLY OPPOSED to orange Mac. I’m especially fond of the Aldi CHEESE CLUB. Anchovy pizza is up there. I converted my ex to the anchovy pizza lifestyle but my current partner is holding fast. It turns out that when you grow up on a boat and eat only the freshest, most recently dead fish, anything less is pretty unpalatable
– A.A. Newton, Skillet contributer
What’s your favourite anti-romance meal? How do you celebrate the joys of eating alone? Does it involve a lot of garlic? I feel like it should involve a lot of garlic.