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What's for dinner ...?

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Emmanuelle, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. Emmanuelle

    Emmanuelle

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    New Jersey, U.S.
    As my energy level dips lower and lower, my family is eating more frozen (organic) pizza, pasta, burgers, (natural) hot dogs ... I'd like to eat "better" and feel "guilty" for not making more veggies and fresh food. But I'm just not up to it. Menu planning ... ? More like "what's in the freezer?" I just can't stand around chopping veggies and cooking for very long.

    I buy groceries online (Peapod) and have them delivered, which helps.

    What do you eat? Any ideas for easy, reasonably healthful dinners?

    Thanks in advance. Look forward to your thoughts ... :thumbsup:
  2. Boule de feu

    Boule de feu Senior Member

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    Ottawa, Canada
    My husband buys the veggie trays - all done and ready to eat.
    It's the only way we will eat them.

    When I have a good day, I prepare a big batch of spaghetti sauce. I cheat a lot when making it. It takes me about 10 minutes. We buy veggies that are already washed, chopped, and mixed in a bag. I prepare some garlic, brown it, add ground beef or tofu, and add the mixed veggies.
    I add a bottle of already made spaghetti sauce that we like. I can freeze the sauce until a bad day. I'll use the sauce in different recipes.

    The mixed veggies are also great to make a broth.
    Just put it in water and boil. You can add rice and it makes a great soup.

    We also buy cooked chickens at the grocery store. We always have leftovers. The next day, I can make hot chickens or sandwiches. It takes two minutes to heat the sauce and the green peas in the microwave. What's left goes in the soups.

    I love spaghetti squash! Split it in two and cook it in the microwave for 8 minutes.
    I serve it instead of potatoes or rice.

    If you like seafood, a bag of frozen cooked shrimps can take you a long way. I prepare a bchamel (it takes 10 minutes) and add the shrimps to it. I serve on fresh pastas (it takes a few minutes in boiling water) or make a stir fry with the mixed veggies and rice.

    When I prepare something, I always make too much. I either put it in the freezer or serve it the next day in another recipe.
    I end up making 2 or 3 meals a week and we stretch them (give them a second or third life).

    We eat less junk food now that we have a good plan.

    Do you have M & M meat shops in your city or something similar? I love their frozen cabbage rolls, the huge shrimps, the stuff potatoes.
    They have a lot of things you can cook in the oven. No preparation needed.

    Are your children old enough to prepare meals ? My daughter who is 11 makes desserts and can make easy meals like kraft dinner. We add a few frozen meatballs to it. My son will cook steaks on the BBQ.

    I have a friend who accepted to prepare food for us. I pay her for her services.
    So, instead of buying frozen burgers, pizzas, etc. the money goes towards good meals.
    She brings the food once or twice a week. I can freeze most of it.
    This way, I have good soups when i'm stuck in bed, too sick to prepare anything.

    Slow cookers do wonders. I was bed bound for two years, and we ate a lot of meals prepared that way.

    I hope this helps.
  3. ixchelkali

    ixchelkali Senior Member

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    Long Beach, CA
    Great response, Boule de feu. You covered most of my strategies, and then some.

    These days, 5 minutes of prep is about my limit. But some days I can do more by spreading it out over the course of the day. Five minutes, rest for an hour, another 5 minutes, etc. That way I can get some chopping done early.

    I like to get those bags of frozen tilapia that have the individual wrapped filets. You can just thaw (and that takes about 15 minutes) and saute in a bit of olive oil. I usually season them with Blackened Catfish Magic. Sometimes, if I have a little more energy, I coat them with seasoned bread crumbs.

    You can buy frozen brown rice that you just heat in the microwave. Or you can make a big pot and freeze it in dinner-sized containers. You can do the same thing with other whole grains, like quinoa or spelt. Whole-wheat couscous takes almost no prep: put it in a container, add hot water, cover and let it sit for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork. Easier than Stovetop Stuffing (which I've been known to use), but as boring as naked spaghetti: serve it under something or sauced. Bulgur and whole-wheat orzo are almost that easy: I simmer them in broth for extra flavor.

    Lentil soup and split pea soup take very little prep. Again, I do the chopping (onions, carrots, and celery) a little bit at a time, earlier in the day or even the day before. Then it only takes 5 minutes to assemble and leave it to cook.

    There are a lot of Crockpot recipes that are basically dump recipes: dump it in and let it cook. Like put in a bunch of chicken pieces and a jar of salsa. Or a chunk of beef round and a packet or two of Good Seasons dry Italian dressing. Or chicken with Dijon mustard, soysauce, pineapple, and garlic. Or pork with barbeque sauce. Make a pot roast by dumping in a can of Coke (okay, it's not exactly health food) and a packet of onion soup mix, with beef, carrots, and potatoes. If you use those peeled baby carrots and baby potatoes, there's no chopping.

    I use some of those flavored rice (or other grain) mixes. Cook 'em up (20-30 minutes, essentially no prep) and add cooked chicken, ham, kielbasa, or shrimp. Speaking of kielbasa, dump it in boiling water along with baby carrots and potatoes, then cabbage wedges at the end. Same for corned beef, except that you have to simmer for an hour or two before you add the veggies.

    For veggies, baby carrots and pre-cut, pre-washed bagged stuff. Prewashed salad mix. Zucchini, crookneck, and broccoli require very little prep: a quick slice and then steam, and you can get them ready for the pot early in the day. And I use a lot of frozen veggies.

    Actually, a roast pork loin is supprisingly easy. I do trim off the extra fat, but then I just rub the outside with garlic paste (from a jar) and soy sauce, and stick it in the oven. No more work 'til it's done, especially if you put some potatoes in to bake, too.

    And here's a recipe for Taco Soup you can teach your family to make:

    1 lg onion, chopped
    1 envelope taco seasoning mix
    2 cups whole kernel corn, frozen
    1 can chicken broth
    1 can black beans, undrained
    1 can white beans, undrained
    1 can refried beans
    1 can diced tomatoes, (Mexican flavor, like Rotel)
    1 can diced tomatoes, (any flavor)
    Saute onions to soften. Add all other ingredients. Stir until the refried beans are mixed in. Simmer, covered, about 45 minutes.
    It freezes well, too.

    I try to do a lot of cooking ahead and freezing. Like Boule, I cook double batches and freeze ahead whenever I can. Because sometimes even the easiest prep is too much for me. Then it's nice to have something to heat-n-eat in the freezer.
  4. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    PA, USA
    I try to eat alot of stir fry lately. What I do is this: A box of Steakuums, or some frozen shrimp. One bag of frozen veggies. One can of beef gravy. Salt and pepper. I fry up the meat or shrimp in olive oil with a little soy sauce and salt and pepper. Then I add the veggies and gravy and more salt and pepper. Just cook it about ten minutes till it's all heated up. Sometimes I add cooked white rice to it.

    That's pretty much the healthiest I eat, and I'll get some frozen fruit for dessert or canned fruit.
  5. Emmanuelle

    Emmanuelle

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    New Jersey, U.S.
    Thanks everyone! Some great ideas.

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