Reimagining the bachelor’s fridge
At its worst, the bachelor’s fridge is empty, except for a to-go box or two, and maybe an assortment of aging condiments. A carton of eggs and a few wayward beers are also possible. But definitely the to-go box.
At its best, it’s my mom’s fridge: a week’s supply of culinary experiments shrinking in on themselves under loose Saran wrap—chard and sweet corn gratin, ricotta zucchini pasta—motivated by the tangled chaos of her garden and a love for cooking, but also the flicker of hope that one of her children will stop by hungry.
“When I make a special dish, I miss sharing it,” she says, “and then I have all these leftovers.”
The experience of eating can lose some of its magic when you do it alone. Feeding oneself can easily become just that—a ritual of survival.
“I think just having a rule about sitting down when you eat makes a huge difference,” says Talya Lutzker, chef and Ayurvedic practitioner. Indeed, studies show that sitting down to eat rather than standing over the sink or counter (yes it can really be that bad) leads to fewer calories and better digestion—important in Ayurveda, which pinpoints undigested food as the root of inflammation and food allergies.
Not surprisingly, an overwhelming number of the bachelors surveyed for this article reported eating out for most of their meals. “The trouble with eating out is really sugar, salt and bad-quality oils,” Lutzker says, a caldron of clarifying butter bubbling in the kitchen of her peaceful studio apartment.
Cooking is an act of love, and even though food is best shared, those who live alone will be a lot healthier (and less broke) if they invest in some surefire staples: High-quality salt. An oil to cook with (coconut oil, ghee, or butter) and an oil to dress your food with, like olive oil or an Omega blend, says Lutzker. “And really easy proteins that you can just reach for, so you’re not always having to cook your proteins,” she says, noting that a seed or nut combined with a grain forms a complete protein. “Make up a mix of seeds and nuts that you can throw on all your salads, like pumpkin and hemp seeds with slivered almonds.”
And of course, produce, including both root vegetables and above-ground ones: “You should always have, say, a sweet potato ready to be baked,” says Lutzker. “Something that you can just either bake or steam—the steamer is going to be the fastest.”
This sounds way to easy not to try: steam root vegetable for five minutes, then add an above-ground vegetable like spinach or kale. Steam five more minutes. “And then I put olive oil, apple cider vinegar, good salt, spice mix, my protein mix, and I have a beautiful meal,” she says.
“It’s sort of like, let’s be real, the way to feel good, that you’re eating well, is that you’re eating a lot of vegetables,” says Lutzker.
To avoid the leftover doldrums, repurpose them. “Make it a rule to always add one fresh ingredient,” says Lutzker. And, if you’ve learned anything from this article let it be this: you may live alone, but everyone deserves better than cold leftovers.
“Ayurveda would say that warm food is easier to digest, and I do feel that way, too,” Lutzker says. “That, to me, is real self care, when you eat something warm, because it’s going to bring that comfort that you need at that time, which is very important in the fall. The wind is going to start picking up, it’s going to start getting chillier, it gets dark earlier, it gets so natural to gravitate toward something warm. And it’s grounding, it brings you into your body, it promotes good sleep.”
A bag of mixed greens will last you all week (“Just don’t forget it’s there”) and Lutzker recommends using greens as a bed for your steamed or roasted root vegetable or leftovers. Vegetables that really hold their own (and can be made into a salad and brought to work) are: kale, collard greens, carrots, beets, fennel, onions and apple.
And for any single person who has stood in the bread aisle wanting just enough bread for one or two slices, but unable to commit to a family sized loaf, the solution is easy: shop at a local bakery. “You can always ask them to give you a half a loaf,” says Lutzker.
For recipes, cooking class and cleanse information, visit talyaskitchen.com. Orientation for Talya’s 7-Day Ayurvedic Cleanse For Fall is Sept. 21.
FRIDGE 2.0 Talya Lutzker of Talya’s Kitchen reaches for fermented veggies, one of her fridge staples since they offer quick, digestible vegetables that boost immunity, are easy to make and last for six months or more. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER