Five Ways to Enjoy Eating Solo at Home

Solo Dining - Heart-shaped plate with knife & fork

Eating with others can help us slow down, enjoy our meals more, and possibly even lose weight. But, if you live by yourself like I do, a table filled with family and friends is more often the stuff of TV than daily life. Solo dining has become even more prevalent during the pandemic.

How do we master the art of a table for one?

A few years ago, I tried getting in the spirit of what I’d read was a “proper” way to eat alone, without distractions. I set a beautiful table, lit candles, and used my best dishes. The table looked Pinterest worthy but when I sat down to eat I felt … silly, like I was wearing someone else’s clothes.

Instead of abandoning the idea of an enjoyable solo meal altogether, I’ve found some new ways to slow it down and appreciate this daily ritual.

Go outside: Take your meal to the porch, patio, backyard, or terrace, and linger long enough to enjoy the change of scenery. Last summer, I was having breakfast on my covered patio when a sudden downpour fell from the sky. It was glorious and I felt as though Mother Nature was putting on a show just for me.

Read: I love reading while I eat, especially inspirational books, poetry, and anything else that benefits from contemplation. Give each activity its time and space by putting the book down while you eat so that you don’t end up eating mindlessly as you read.

Write: Whether you jot notes about a project you want to tackle, a trip you want to take, what you’re grateful for, or your thoughts on the day, using mealtimes to write and reflect is a nice change of pace that can help you enjoy both activities more.

Eat in courses: When I get in the one-pot-meal doldrums, I’ll switch it up with the French habit of eating in courses. Having a simple entree, followed by a salad, and then a decadent piece of cheese and some fruit naturally slows the pace and makes me more aware of the taste of each dish.

Alone, together: Before I moved near family, my sister and I started doing “sister supper.” Each week, one of us would choose a recipe and on sister supper day, we would FaceTime during the meal, always showing each other how our version had turned out. Even with a two-hour time difference it was a fun way to share a meal, catch up with each other, and expand our culinary skills.

Living alone gives us the advantage of only having to please ourselves with what, when, and how we eat. The other side of the coin is that eating alone can become boring and even depressing. If you’re in a solo dining rut like I was, I encourage you to find some new mealtime rituals that leave you feeling not just full, but truly nourished.

Julie Thompson recently retired from corporate copywriting in San Francisco and moved to Southern Oklahoma to be near family, pursue freelance writing, and enjoy life without a commute. She writes about this new chapter on her blog, Born a Homebody, and is the co-author of The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem, with Christopher Shein.


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