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Buying/organising home cooked food

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by lior, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    My ability to cook for myself varies. Some weeks I'm ok. Some weeks I'm not.

    Sometimes I'm able to cook up something that is freezable, and enough of it to put in the freezer. So I have 2/3 meals in there right now.

    I live in a flat share and my housemates are not responsible for helping me with food. I don't have a partner, or family to look after me closely. Applying for benefits or a carer is beyond me right now.

    Several of my friends have been offering to cook for me or give me portions to put in the freezer.
    However, I get overwhelmed with planning - planning to get help from others gives me PEM! There's the practical detail bit to think about, and also the social grace needed to receive help gratefully and politely. Both bits are beyond me most of the time.

    I would like to create some sort of monthly plan where I schedule to receive food from friends.
    That way I will not have so much food in my fridge or freezer that I'm unable to eat it before it goes off (that happened this week - food waste really stresses me out.) I eat lightly.
    Has anyone done this? Do you have any tips about how to plan this?
    I would love to hear your way of doing it, if so.

    I'm worried that I'm not eating enough veg. I'm doing ok but it's not ideal.
    I'm not on top of whether certain food affects my symptoms, and this is something I would like to learn about soon. I feel like this is a variable I'd need to plan around and I don't know how to approach it yet.
    I want to eat a balanced diet, and if I'm asking other people to cook for me on occasion, I feel like I ought to give them some guidelines about what I should eat. Any tips on this?

    There's a great social enterprise called Casserole Club:
    https://www.casseroleclub.com
    It's not operating where I live. They get neighbours to deliver home cooked food to people that can't cook. I would really like something like this. It's affordable, and I'd get home cooked food instead of microwave food.
    Does anyone know of any equivalent social enterprises or charities that deliver home cooked food?
     
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  2. Runner5

    Runner5 Senior Member

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    PNW
    I subscribed to emeals at emeals.com for recipes everyday in various categories, they have a slow cooker, and quick and healthy and so forth. Not a perfect solution for ya' I know, but it's what I do. I don't have the energy to plan meals either. (Emeals usually gives coupon codes out and they get reposted online) I own 3 old crock pots ;-P I'm really picky about food and recipes and they do a decent job. I've had other meal plans in the past that weren't great.

    I tried to get home care for my Dad and a meal provider and at least where he's at in Florida there was a long waiting list and it was very difficult and I still haven't managed to get that set up. I think a lot depends on where you live.
     
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  3. MEMum

    MEMum Senior Member

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    Would there be anyone of your friends who could co-ordinate this for you, maybe just a couple of meals a week to start with, say for a month, as a trial?

    We are lucky locally with a Mum's group that informally arranges meals for periods when people/ families are ill or otherwise not able to cook/shop as usual. This has generally not been for more than several weeks. These days, with text/email/whatsapp/Facebook it is much simpler than last century.
    I would suggest start small and simple and see how it goes. That way you'll also know whose cooking you like best!
    With ME.good friends want to help, but it's often hard to know how.
     
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  4. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    Thanks both.

    @Runner5 thanks for the recommendation, I had a look. I wouldn't be able to cook up those meals most of the time. I don't have the energy to.

    When I cook, I find I get less PEM if I do it without thinking very much. So it's better if I don't follow a recipe and I do autopilot sticking stuff together that I know works (I'm lucky to have a feel for what goes together). I find that when I do unfamiliar things, it wears me out much worse, so having to cook with new ingredients and new recipes is a definite no-no. I've been trying to do this recently and I've set the microwave on fire twice in the space of a week...! I can't concentrate for long enough to avoid actual hazards. If I know what's coming - if it's not new - then danger is less likely to happen.

    I love that mum's group idea @MEMum. You must be part of a strong community. You're very lucky to know such generous, kind people.

    My best friend who is a dietician is coming over tomorrow, so I'm going to talk to her about it. She might have some ideas about how to plan this.
     
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  5. Runner5

    Runner5 Senior Member

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    ((hugs)) @lior

    I hope you come up with a good plan with your dietician friend! Sending you well wishes and sunshine ((hugs))
     
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  6. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    Thank you :) :)
     
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  7. Sushi

    Sushi Moderation Resource Albuquerque

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    I also have periods when cooking is beyond me so when I have a good day I make a one pot meal that I will give several days meals and then freeze them. I have an Instant Pot (basically an electric pressure cooker but it also has 6 other modes). I have a few fool-proof recipes that are more or less tossing a bunch of ingredients in and pressing "go." I can get 5 or 6 meals from one pot. I do simple stuff like several types of lentils, chicken broth, lots of vegetables (you can use frozen) and some spices. Prep time is minimal. Good luck with this--good nutrition is a challenge for most of us.
     
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  8. Deltrus

    Deltrus Senior Member

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    Here are my easy meals.

    Chicken + jar of butter chicken / mango curry sauce + basmati rice. Ready in 15 mins.

    Japenese curry(pre made curry blocks) + chicken + basmati rice + rice + potato + carrots + peas. Ready in 50 mins but makes TONS.

    Chunky chicken soup from campbells.

    Alfredo pasta with peas.

    Nut bars

    Chef john's ham and potato soup (it is on youtube)
     
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  9. JeanneD

    JeanneD Senior Member

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    I have several one-pot meals that are easy and I can make in large batches when I'm well enough. I freeze enough for 6 or more meals in square containers that pack well in the freezer or in plastic bags that I freeze flat and stack in the freezer. Since it's the same 3-4 recipes, I know exactly what I need and don't have to think about how to make them, so it doesn't strain my brain.

    If I make one of them when I feel up to it -- whichever I'm lowest on at the time -- there's always enough food with some variety to get me through a bad week in a pinch. I use a rice cooker which is basically pour in rice and water and push go. That can fill out my freezer meal if I need more substance. Potatoes and sweet potatoes in the microwave work for that, too.

    I have a friend who brings me meals once in a while, but I find that my dietary preferences/needs don't work well with other people's cooking choices. I appreciate the generosity, but it isn't something I can do very often.
     
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  10. CFS_for_19_years

    CFS_for_19_years Hoarder of biscuits

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  11. JeanneD

    JeanneD Senior Member

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    I've been thinking about this since you posted and I remember something that worked for me for a while when I had a friend willing to trade cooking for tutoring.

    I had my list of very few, easy, mostly slow-cooker recipes. Just a few and ones that worked with my tastes and dietary needs. I'd hand her my recipe and she would cook and pack it for me. Sometimes when my freezer was full and I was feeling okay, I'd ask her to make me a complex, nutritious salad because lots of vegetable chopping was hard for me. That could be lunches or an additon to a simple meal.

    Something like this might work for you if the planning is too demanding (which it often is for me). Keep your own set of a few recipes so you don't have to think about it, and when a friend offers to cook for you, just hand them one of your recipes (and the money for ingredients, if possible). They'd probably appreciate not having to decide what to cook or worry whether your can eat it or will even like it. They might even find they have a new recipe they like for themselves.

    Back when I thought I could eat grains every day, I'd sometimes make or ask for a pan of reasonably healthy muffins (include fruit and nuts/seeds). They freeze well, thaw in the microwave, and make an acceptable breakfast when you feel too crummy to do more than punch a button or two.

    Another thing I remembered is from when a friend of mine was dying of cancer. He couldn't work so his young wife (also my friend) had to go back to work to support them and their <2yo daughter. She was exhausted and overwhelmed working full-time and caring for a dying husband and a very young child.

    A group of their friends and some caring and generous strangers set up a meal rota. We each had a recipe or two we knew they could eat. Every 2-3 days one of us would bring a meal that would feed their small family for 2-3 days. It was all scheduled, and nobody had to plan too hard, so it went smoothly with no one feeling over-burdened. She wasn't stressed worrying if and when food was coming and if it would be something they could eat. She didn't have to ask over and over for help, which alone is wearing and stressful.

    I can see how this might work for you and your friends. It takes an hour or so to plan upfront, but then it should run smoothly. For you it could be a once every week or two weeks thing -- somebody brings 4-6 packed freezer dishes, a nice salad, or some healthy muffins. Your freezer will be stocked for when you have bad weeks and you'll have a little help with lunches and breakfasts even when you're doing okay.

    If you have 4 friends doing this, they'll only be feeding you once a month or every two months, so they won't get charity-fatigue. I also suggest you pay something for those meals so they don't feel taken advantage of. If you need help for a long time, you don't want people to feel burdened by helping you. :) You might also consider making something special when you're feeling up to it and giving something back when you can -- cookies, cake, your special casserole -- whatever you can handle.
     
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  12. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    Thank you so much all for your ideas and replies.

    Yesterday my dietician friend came over and I explained to her what I'd like to do. She was one step ahead of me, and has volunteered to lead the planning of all this over Meal Train. So funny you mentioned it just a few hours later @CFS_for_19_years :)

    @JeanneD - you're very good at explaining things.
    It's a really good idea to give suggested recipes.
    I agree about paying for the meals. My friend insists on me not paying, but long-term it wouldn't work. So I'm not paying as a trial for the first 2 months, and then I think I will start covering the cost of ingredients. I've asked for 3 meals per 2 weeks. Hopefully that will cover me.
    My friend is going to ask more than 4 people to get involved, so it should not over-burden anyone.
    I like the idea of giving back something. Cooking/baking wouldn't work for me, but since I'm a designer I might be able to do handmade thank you cards.

    My worries:
    - London is big - it will take any of my friends an hour to get to my neighbourhood. It's not fair to someone who's travelled from north London to knock on my door, give me food and a hug and go back on the tube - I have to give them my time and I'm not always able to do that.

    - I have really limited energy for people visiting me. I'm trying to limit myself to seeing one friend a week. If I get meals every other week, it means half of my social life is now going to revolve around this scheme. There's an obligation thing going on both ways which I'm feeling tired just thinking about. I know that planning takes a lot of energy for me, and I'm concerned that this is going to be extra planning work for me. Maybe I'm just anxious about the unknown and the unfamiliar. If I'm having a bad couple of weeks, I don't plan to see anyone - but if I'm going to HAVE to do planning and socialising in order to receive food, then this is a potential danger of extra PEM.

    - I've tried to get my friend to understand that I would need to get all 3 meals from 1 person, because I'm not going to be able to plan to see 3 different people to receive one meal from each of them in one week. I'm not sure if she understands how difficult that would be for me. She and I are really close so I tend to be ok with her around, but with less familiar people I get drained much faster. Some of the people that are being generous and offering me food - I really rate them as people, but I would have to be having a Really Good Day to be able to handle them. Because she's going to be in charge of directing people what to make for me and who's turn it is... I dunno, I'm just worried it will go wrong. Maybe I'm freaking out because I'm not used to having ANYONE be in charge of any element of my life, particularly food and socialising, which are such personal things.

    My friend said that she can put a warning about me not necessarily being able to socialise when the food is dropped off, but I know in reality I'd always be trying my utmost to give my best to people.

    Ramble over. Goodness I think I might be quite anxious about this whole thing! Loss of control seems to be a bit emotionally difficult for me.
     
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  13. JeanneD

    JeanneD Senior Member

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    Comes of being a prof. If you're any good, you learn that skill. :)

    I suspect that the food-bringers who don't know you well won't want to hang around long. They don't need to feel like they have to be your social circle in addition to providing food, but they might feel obliged to socialize if you encourage it. When we were bringing food to my dying friend's family, we were often on our way somewhere else or heading home to be with our families and were more than happy to hand in the food at the front door and leave. The same may be true for your group.

    If you want to express your appreciation, rather than invite them in to tea (in a manner of speaking), pay them, make them a small gift. If you have artistic talent that you enjoy using, you can make a stash when you're feeling well and have them easily to hand when the food-bringer drops by. It doesn't have to be big, just a little something to show you aren't taking them for granted.

    If you haven't already decided this, think about asking for freezer food rather than hot meals. It's easier on volunteers because they can cook and freeze when it's easy for them, and can drop it off whenever in the day is convenient.

    Try not to get involved in on-going planning and organization. Make sure your dietician friend knows that that would be hard on you and ask her to help set up a clear, simple, perpetual plan that doesn't need constant attention. Or maybe better, ask if one of the volunteers could take on the job of planning central instead of bringing food. That could be the person who gets fill-in people when someone is sick, works the schedule around vacations, and calls you if something comes up and they can't bring food when expected. Finally, try to relax, roll with the punches and acknowledge that it's not always going to work out perfectly, but overall it's a big improvement over where you were before. :)
     
  14. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    I used to be better at explaining things.... I used to have the capacity to be succinct when I tried. But I'm accepting I just can't do that right now and it's not worth stressing over.

    Yes, I'm asking for freezer food only.

    We're in our 20s... none of us have kids. None of us drive. My neighbourhood is not a convenient place to stop by at because of its location. It's a big effort for people, no way around it.
    I guess I'm also forgetting what it's like to be well. Travelling is not as big a deal for healthy people.

    I'm just going to have to see how it plays out.

    I was imagining to ask people to come down only on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. But my friend is imagining I could be flexible around any time of the week.
    My friend IS meant to be doing that last bit you're describing... she has experience of doing that kind of thing so she can handle it. I just don't know if I've been able to communicate how inflexible I can be, because she doesn't have the understanding of what it's like to be inflexible.
     
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  15. JeanneD

    JeanneD Senior Member

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    That inflexiblity is one of the very hard things about socializing with ME. I manage my daily life very carefully to do as much as I can, but not too much. I don't have the room to add in something unexpected because all my energy for the day has been budgeted to something else. OTOH, if I plan something with a friend, client, or maintenance person and they cancel at the last minute, I've lost an opportunity to do something important -- often a whole day's budget for anything more than the most basic ADLs. When I can only do one "big" thing a day, having it cancelled at the last minute when I may have scheduled my whole week around an unusual event is a much bigger deal than a healthy person can understand. They want to reschedule in the next couple of days and don't understand why that almost puts me to tears trying to figure out how I could rearrange everything and what big thing I'll have to drop this week, and whether I'll have enough energy reserve.

    Then there's the people who quite naturally say, "Let's meet for coffee Tues or Weds next week. We can finalize that when the time gets closer and we see how our schedules are working out." Uh no, that's a whole day's energy for me. I have to plan for it, work my whole week around getting everything done and still be able to make a trip out of the house. I have to know which day 4 or 5 days in advance. They don't understand why I'm so stubborn and inflexible and there's no explaining it to 99.9% of people.

    I socialize much less than I used to simply because most of the time I just don't have the ability to be as flexible as most healthy people need me to be.
     
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  16. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    Shit's gone down with my family over this.
    I'm estranged from my parents. We text and email but not more than that. I'm in therapy for being emotionally abused by them. It's been 4 years.
    They were included in the small group that my friend sent the Meal Train email to.

    Dad's repeatedly saying he is going to deliver food once a week, even though I don't need that practically, I didn't ask for it, and I don't want it. I've had to say no several times. It's been a big drama, which is the opposite of help. 'Let us help you, let us help you.' Help would be to listen to what I say, and to not create drama.
    He also called my dietician friend and put her in an awkward position. I'm angry at him.
    I've told him that unless he can chill out, I don't want him to try and help me, because it's the opposite of help the way he's acting.
    I've told him that if I accepted what he was offering, it would be me helping him alleviate his anxiety about me, and it would be a lot of work for me.
    And I told him to take a week to reflect.

    I completely did not see this coming. He's got the wrong end of the stick - massively misinterpreted the email from Meal Train.
    He's labelled me a charity case, based on what it said in the standard text from Meal Train. I'm not comfortable with this. I can cope without friends cooking for me. It would just be healthier and less expensive.

    I haven't seen what my friend put in the email. But even if it was a terrible email, I'm angry that he took what the email said over what I have been communicating to him. I've been keeping my family in the loop with my health, and been absolutely honest, AS WELL as being reassuring because they're minorly freaking out about it. But dad's recent reactions take the biscuit.

    Obviously, this whole drama is happening because of my parents worrying about what other people think; and shame and pride and guilt. There's love there but it's not being expressed very well. I stopped asking for their help a long time ago because of how they were treating me.

    I imagine elements of this situation are not unique - people that want to help sick people, but are actually demanding emotional support from us because they're freaking out that we're ill - they want reassurance that we're ok - and then we end up helping them much more than they help us. I'm not ok to be put in that position.

    And I imagine it's not unique to ask for a bit of help, and then have much more 'help' forced upon you that you don't want because of the guilt of the helper.
    Keeping independence for me means asking for exactly what I need to look after myself - I want to manage my own help as much as possible. I want to stay ruling my own life, however small it is right now.

    Moral of the story: be careful about the Meal Train communications.

    I know this kind of situation is not easy to understand for many people - familial estrangement is unfathomable for most people, but it's the healthiest thing for me.
     
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