When a man finds himself alone at the end of a long term relationship, or during a prolonged separation, often it’s the first time in his life he’s had to look after himself. This little book will be a big help when you are learning to do those things she used to do for you.Are you one of those guys who can make all kinds of things but can’t make himself a meal? Or one of those guys who manages multiple projects at work but doesn’t have a clue when it comes to managing his personal space? This book is for you. It covers the basics of: buying food and preparing meals keeping the place clean doing the washing, and looking after yourself, physically, emotionally and spiritually.It’s a survival guide written by a fellow traveller, who has survived alone, to let you know you can too.
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Copyright © 2014 Peter Mulraney
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Keeping the place clean
The mysteries of the laundry
It's your place
Staying in touch
Looking after the inner man
Keeping the body working
Tidying up loose ends
A note from Peter
Also by Peter Mulraney
Doing those things she used to do for you
Sometimes it feels like life happens to you, especially when your journey intersects with death, divorce or desertion; or you find yourself temporarily separated from the woman who had been taking care of business at your place.
It happened to me. Around five years ago, my wife, who had been looking after me in Adelaide, Australia, for thirty something years at that point, decided she wanted to broaden her horizons by becoming an educational consultant in New York. Yeah, you got it, the one in the United States of America. That's a tad more than a cut lunch and a water bottle trip from my place - by 747.
For reasons associated with financial commitments (the bank still wanted its money) and maximizing my retirement savings plan, I chose to stay at my job in Australia.
No need to feel sorry, it's working out fine. We're still married and we get to spend time together in two different cities, in two different parts of the world, in two different time zones, and I found out about Skype.
But, I found myself living on my own again, for up to four or five months at a time.
There's only so much stuff a woman can leave behind in the freezer, and if she's left for good, she may not have left you anything in the freezer, and she's certainly not going to be on Skype, telling you how to cook whatever it is you want to try this week.
In a way, I was lucky. Being a country boy, I'd had some experience looking after myself when I was at university. We country kids had to leave home and come down to the city to study, and I ended up living in an apartment with a couple of my brothers. So, I had some basic cooking skills I could fall back on. And, having been one of those collaborative husbands, who shared the housework while we were raising our kids, I knew how things about the house worked.
My wife would say that I was well trained. I might not have mastered much in the kitchen, but at least I'd done some sort of an apprenticeship over the years. I might not make the bed the way she wants it made, but at least I know how to make a bed, and I've done enough supervised cleaning to know which end of the vacuum cleaner is the business end.
Having looked after myself successfully for a while, I thought it might be useful to share what I know, so that anyone finding himself in a similar situation, would have access to a basic survival guide written by a fellow traveller, one who had survived by acquiring the basic skills required to look after himself.
Disclaimer:I'm no expert, I'm simply a practitioner who has relied on the ideas discussed in this book, and lived to tell you about them.
If you can't feed yourself you'll either starve or spend a lot of money on takeaways, or even more on eating out. You could of course become dependent on someone else, like your sister or your mother in-law, however, I don't recommend giving your power away to a well-meaning relative, when you can easily learn to feed yourself.
To feed yourself you need to know something about food and cooking, so I'm covering this in two parts: buying food and preparing meals.
You probably know where to go to buy food: the supermarket, the butcher's, the baker's, the greengrocer's or fruit and veg shop. If your life has been anything like mine, you've probably been sent down to one or more of those places with a list at some point.
Now that you're on your own, the challenge is writing the list before you go. And, writing a list is essential, if you don't want to blow your budget or wind up with a lot of stuff that you'll end up throwing out.
I started by doing my food shopping in the supermarket, and moved out to the specialty stores, like the butcher and fruit and veg shop, once I had some degree of confidence that I knew what I was doing.
If you can't find something to eat in a supermarket, you're not looking. Not only do they stock the basic ingredients for the dishes you might want to cook, they also have prepared meals that only require the application of heat, and ready made salads that only need to be opened.
The first time you go to the supermarket, spend some time getting yourself oriented with the layout, so that you can structure your list to align with the layout as you move through the supermarket. This saves a bit of backtracking, but don't get too carried away because, every now and then, they shift things just to see if you're awake.
My preferred option is to cook but if you need to start with prepared meals, start there and progress to cooking.
The basic shopping list
In the second book of this series, Cooking 4 One, I provide you with the recipes I use and a list of the ingredients to make those meals. For now, let's just focus on some basic items you'll need to get through the week. I chose that time frame on purpose. I suggest you do your food shopping weekly, at least until you have worked out your own routine.
I'm an omnivore, so I'll cover the full range of foods. If you're a vegetarian or you have other dietary issues, feel free to adjust my suggestions or use Google - there are stacks of helpful sites out there; for example: 4 Ingredients
Beverages: tea, coffee, fruit juice and mineral water.
Bread: I generally have a loaf of sliced bread and a loaf of raisin bread on my list every second week. Sometimes, especially if I'm going to be home for lunch for a few days, I'll buy a packet of pita bread - the round flat stuff.
Breakfast cereals: instant rolled oats (oatmeal) and muesli.
Cheese: grated parmesan to go with the pasta or rice dishes, and cheddar to go with the sliced ham.
Condiments: items like tomato sauce (ketchup), mustard and mayonnaise. And, don't forget butter or whatever spread you prefer, and salt - comes in handy when you're cooking pasta and rice.
Cooking oils: if you buy cooking oils, like olive oil, buy the small bottle - it starts going off once you open the bottle.
Eggs: buy a dozen every couple of weeks or get half a dozen each week. Eggs keep in the fridge.
Fish: if you're not into the red meat, pick up some fish. I usually buy frozen fish in the supermarket, a couple of slices of salmon always come in handy and it's easy to cook. Select individual serving sizes.
My other fish standby is tinned tuna - I keep four or five on the pantry shelf. They come in handy on those days when you forget to take something out of the freezer the night before.
Fruit: can go off, so don't buy too many of any particular type. I usually restrict myself to one container of strawberries, one peeled pineapple (why would you want to peel one yourself?) and five of any other fruit.
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