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Trying to find the time, energy and ability to prepare healthy foods can be a challenge to those with chronic illnesses. Odds are, if you have the strength to get to the grocery store, you won’t have the energy to make anything for dinner.
This has been one of the hardest struggles for me.
Through years of trying to make this process easier, I’ve found there are certain things I just can’t live without.
- My crock pot. There’s an abundance of healthy meals that can be created in the slow cooker. You can jump over to Pinterest and look at some I’ve pinned to a slow cooker board. Most recipes are simple to prep as well – dump and go. Here’s the one I have!
- Freezer meals. I know most freezer meals aren’t very healthy. However, there are a few brands that are a pretty good alternative on a night you’re not up to making something for dinner. Try checking Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s for some great meal alternatives.
- Post-it notes to label leftovers. I keep a pad of small 2×2 sticky notes and a pen in my kitchen. When I put leftovers in the fridge I jot down the Month, Day and day of the week. That way I don’t have to rely on a foggy brain to know whether or not that sloppy joe meat is going to give me e-coli. (Yeah, it happened. It wasn’t pretty. Three days in the hospital allowed me time to come up with this little tip.)
- Aluminum foil & parchment paper. The worst part of cooking is the cleanup. I wrap almost every baking pan in aluminum foil and line every cookie sheet with parchment paper so I can just pull it off, toss it and put the pan back in the cupboard.
- Ninja blender. On my worst flare days, I depend on my blender. I can make a smoothie or protein shake in a matter of minutes and give my body some needed nutrition. Here’s the one I have!
- Paper plates and plastic cups. I fought this for a while. I do worry about the landfills, I do. But there are days I’m lucky to throw together a sandwich let alone empty and fill a dishwasher or wash a load of dishes in the sink. Our local community picks up the recycling on our trash day. I make sure to do my part.
- Freezer bags. I try to keep some homemade meals in the freezer at all times. I’ve found the easiest way to accumulate some frozen dinners to double up on whatever I make. I’ve shared this recipe by Joy Bauer for Italian Turkey Burgers on Facebook. I usually triple the batch, cook them on the griddle and freeze whatever we don’t eat that day. They warm up in 40 seconds in the microwave and they’re healthy and delicious. I also have a board on Pinterest for freezer meals to get you started.
- Frozen fruits and veggies. I hate chopping onions so a true highlight for me was finding frozen diced onions in my local grocery store. I always keep a bag of those along with a bag of diced green pepper. A number of dishes call for one or both of those items so saving my hand and wrist the necessary chopping is a plus for me. Also, frozen fruit works great in smoothies and frozen veggies are always a quick side dish with any meal.
- Phone & take-out menus. Yep, some days there isn’t any cooking going on. My energy is needed elsewhere or there isn’t any energy available. Either way, knowing your local carry out favorites is a must have!
Now it’s your turn! What’s your best tip kitchen tip? Let us know in the comments below!