Easy Food Prep for the Chronically Ill Person


As a professional organizer faced with several chronic conditions, I do my best to eat fresh foods- don’t we all? But there are days when you just don’t have a single brain cell available to think about “What’s in the house?”or. “What do I have energy to fix?” or “What am I interested in eating/can stand to eat/have enough energy to eat?”

I’ve submitted these suggestions in the hope that they will help some readers to create easy breakfasts, lunches, and/or dinners for themselves. I aimed my suggestions at what I perceive to be the “most common” ButYouDontLookSick.com reader household- three or fewer persons. If you live in a larger household and don’t
find these suggestions helpful, please adapt to your circumatances.
So here are a few easy meals I’ve prepared. Some of them I like so much that I even prepare them on days when I feel OK! (Well, relatively OK, anyway.) These easily double for two people.
1) Granola/high-quality cereal with strawberries or banana and milk. Juice/tea/coffee on the side or
Granola/high-quality cereal with strawberries or banana and yogurt. Juice/tea/coffee on the side.
2) Dairy-based smoothie (made in a blender): 1 cup milk, 1 or 2 bananas, 2 Tb. milk powder. Can be varied by using 2 Tb. Ovaltine™ or malted-milk powder. This makes quite a large smoothie, so I often save part of it for
later in the morning as a snack or Dairy-based smoothie (made in a blender): 1 cup milk, 1 or 2 bananas,
strawberries, blueberries, or other fruit of your choice, plus 2 Tb. milk powder. I usually add fruit until the milk level reads 2 cups. This makes quite a large smoothie, so I often save part of it
3) Non-dairy-based smoothie: 1 cup juice, 1 or 2 bananas, and either strawberries, blueberries, or a mango.
4) Toast and juice. The trick here is to put something substantial on the toast so that there’s some “oomph” to the meal. I’ve used ricotta, cottage cheese, and peanut butter, all to good advantage, although not at the same time!
5) Toaster waffles w/peanut butter and a glass of milk. Then the fruit becomes the morning snack.
6) Yogurt with fruit. Add fresh fruit of your choice (bananas are easy, but peaches, apricots, blueberries, and the like will work well, too) to commercially prepared yogurt.
1) Toast with cheese on the side and apple wedges (opt. with peanut butter). Glass of milk or juice.
2) Microwave-baked potato with shredded cheese and salsa. Wash the potato first and be sure to poke it with a fork or skewer so the moisture can escape. In my microwave, it takes approx. 6 minutes. But I can sit down or
do something else while the potato gets ready!
3) Microwave-baked potato with cottage cheese and steamed broccoli. Cheese if desired. Steam the broccoli in the microwave along with the potato. It may take 8 minutes, but again you can sit and wait for it to be ready!
4) In the toaster oven: “pizza sandwiches.” Take one or two slices of bread, pasta sauce, and cheese (if you like). Spread the pasta sauce on the slices of bread, place them in the toaster oven, and set it to Broil. Five or so minutes later, you have a lunch. It cooked while you were sitting down!
5) Grilled cheese sandwich. (I timed this one.) While a grilled-cheese sandwich may not be the best nutritional choice, it can be “improved” by the addition of lots of alfalfa sprouts! So … mustard, sliced cheese, lots of sprouts, mayo (if you like it). Set the sandwich in the hot (buttered) frying pan. While the sandwich is toasting, peel/slice your fruit (mango, orange, banana, pear or apple?) and set it in a small bowl. Boil water for tea, if you like, or pour a glass of milk/juice. Turn the sandwich over. While the second side is cooking, put the utensils into the dishwasher or
the hot soapy water in the sink so that they can soak. Ah! The sandwich is done, the fruit is ready, and the drink is ready. Sit and eat! (It took me 8 minutes, start to finish, until I could “sit and eat,” but it was a really good lunch.)
6) Cottage cheese and tuna (opt. with sprouts and seasoning). Take 1 cup of cottage cheese (half of a regular container) and a small can of tuna. Drain the tuna, rinse if you like, and stir it into the cottage cheese. Add sprouts and seasoning if desired. This is a high-protein lunch, and very quick! Good with vegetable juice and/or toast/crackers.
7) Quesadillas. Definitely not a traditional quesadilla, but a truly quick lunch. I use the “gorditas”-size tortillas. Two of them are an ample lunch, one makes an adequate lunch. Place taco sauce, shredded cheese, and yogurt for the basic quesadilla. Add pumpkin purée and/or frijoles refritos for more “oomph.”
Since the majority of people with diagnosed CFS, FMS, CMP, and other chronic conditions are women, but may live with someone else as well, we sometimes need to consider more substantial dinner menus than we’re really up to preparing. Here are a few dinners Bill and I eat regularly (two or more times a month) which need little standing-up prep time on my part.
1) Roasted chicken with microwave-baked potatoes and broccoli. I set the chicken in the oven approximately 11/2 hours before we plan to eat. If I really have it together, I put the potatoes in the oven, too, but it’s often all I can do to get the chicken itself into the oven, so the potatoes go into the microwave and the broccoli gets steamed on the stovetop when Bill gets home. This idea would also work with small roasts, either of beef or lamb. Leftover chicken can be used for sandwiches, pasta, omeletes, or quesadillas (see below, #3).
2) Pasta with “fortified” sauce. We buy a brand of pasta sauce that doesn’t have sugar in it and then add ingredients of our choosing. We sauté sliced zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and so on in olive oil with rosemary.
Sometimes we also add chopped chicken breast, small meatballs of ground beef, or “fancy canned tuna” to the sauce and then serve this “fortified” sauce atop the pasta. I’ve also made pasta as “dinner for one” and then used the leftovers as quick warm-up lunches for a few days.
3) Fancy quesadillas. See Lunch #7, but add to it some chicken breast from that roasted chicken or chunks of winter squash and refritos. These quesadillas can be very substantial, and will satisfy your hunger quite
well. I like them with a glass of milk.
4) Fancy “baked” potatoes. This is similar to Dinner #1, except that the proportions have changed. Now, we’ve purchased large baking potatoes (we’re partial to Yukon Golds) and put them into the microwave while the broccoli steams. We’re using leftover roasted chicken. Cottage cheese, jack cheese, and roasted red bell peppers (bought at the store) are also on the table. Bake the potatoes, either in the oven or in the microwave, and add other ingredients to your taste. Caution: this is extremely filling.
5) Omelets. If you have a little more energy, you can slice up and sauté “easy” vegetables, e.g., scallions, zucchini, mushrooms, (red) bell pepper, in a little olive oil or butter. When the vegetables are tender, add eggs and cook until they are done to your satisfaction. Juice, tea, coffee, toast, fruit, or other accompaniments can amplify this into a meal suitable for dinnertime.
These suggestions are simply that: suggestions. In no way am I trying to present a balanced diet or cater to restricted food requirements due to allergy or other medical needs. But I do hope to inspire you to try fresh
foods rather than processed foods, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Article submitted by: Cynthia Hilton, Butyoudontlooksick.com, © 2006

  • Beth Bernauer

    These ideas are great however this comment relates specifically to ‘Lunch number 5 – grilled cheese sandwiches’ and the use of alfalfa sprouts which have been associated with the onset of flares in Lupus.