Meal Planning for Spoonies Part 2

January Sunset (2)
Sunset at Zion

We’ve opted to stay put here in Laramie for an extra day. The storm has brought with it high winds. Even normal winds in Wyoming are pretty intense and no picnic to move a high-profile vehicle in. I was hoping for a rest day anyway so this is good. We’re still up at 6:00 am every day and I’m currently running on an average of less than 5 hours of sleep per night. It’s one of the nuisances of being a Spoonie. No matter how tired you are during the day you won’t be able to sleep at night. The good news is that nobody’s ever died of short sleep. It’s good to be resting a little anyway so I’m just catching up on some writing and doing some computer work today. Later, I’ll practice some self care like washing my hair and elevating my legs while reading a book that’s just for fun.

Any kind of “spoonie” disease makes flare days really, really difficult to handle. Let’s face it there are times when the concept of writing down several days of dinner ideas, making sure you have all of the ingredients, etc. can be daunting. Particularly those days when you may be having brain fog or other attention span issues (oh look at the kitty, pretty kitty, ooh is that a moremoth butterfly). You still need to eat though and I’m not a fan of fast food or eating out ; – P. I also believe that our diets are incredibly important to the control of our diseases, no matter which one you’re afflicted with, so here are some suggestions and meal ideas to make it a little more manageable.

  1. Keep a list of your fastest, easiest meals that you can make from your pantry or freezer.
  2. Keep pantry stable sauces for quick meals. I like to keep some sweet and sour sauce, bar-b-que sauce, marinara sauce, pizza sauce, peanut sauce, pesto, mild curry, a good teriyaki if you can find one. Any one of these will make a plain quickie dinner something special.
  3. Keep “emergency” foods in the pantry or freezer. I love “tasty bite” pouches. When they go on sale, I stock up and always keep a pack or two in the pantry. I also stock “seeds of change” heat and eat rice, amy’s brand black bean chili and medium chili, soups canned or boxed. There are lots of frozen options too but since I only have about 2 cu. ft. of freezer space, I use pantry stable foods more.
  4. Keep canned beans, lentils, fruit for the basis of quick meals and desserts.
  5. On a good day (or any day you have a little extra energy), precook some items. If you eat meat, throw a couple of IQF chicken breasts in a ziploc with some marinade and put them back in the freezer. I cook up a big batch of rice and smaller batch of quinoa to keep on hand for dinner preps. I usually chop green (for SH breakfast) and make carrot and celery sticks. Basically anything I can pre-prep, on a non-flare day, I DO!
  6. Use your slow cooker. Slow cookers and rice makers are two of the most fabulous inventions every for spoonies. So many quick and easy recipes out there, just do a pinterest search, you’ll see what I mean. Back when I had an actual freezer, I used to throw all of the ingredients for a crock pot meal into a freezer bag, chicken breast, vegetables and some marinade. Toss it in the freezer, then I could just take it out, throw it in the slow cooker and head off to work. As a happy aside, this made the house smell fabulous when I came home from work.
  7. Remember that there is no shame in short cuts. Keep some of those frozen skillet meals in the freezer (stouffers are good), I keep frozen Dr. Praeger California burgers on hand and Alexia frozen sweet potato fries, instant mashed potatoes, instant oatmeal, frozen waffles. There is no shortage of options here. Just remember to double check the ingredients if you have food sensitivities and watch the sodium. These are short term fixes so don’t feel guilty and no matter how many short cuts you use, it beats eating at fast food joints!

For tonight’s recipe, I offer you a few flare day meal ideas, no recipe required. I serve with packaged salad or microwaved veggies:

  • Spaghetti, (duh right?) just heat up a jar of pasta sauce, boil the noodles, top with sauce and cheese (or nutritional yeast flakes),
  • Burger & Fries use frozen veggie burgers & frozen fries – toss them both on a baking sheet, cook according to directions, and serve.
  • Black bean and Rice Burritos – drain and rinse beans, add a few spices and heat along with some pre-cooked or packaged rice. Spoon onto a whole wheat tortilla, top with grated cheese if you have it or any other toppings you like, roll up and enjoy
  • Sweet and Sour tofu – drain tofu, cut into small cubes, toss in pan with bottled sweet and sour sauce, add drained chopped pineapple if you have it. Serve over pre-cooked rice.
  • Chunky Vegetarian Chili – drain and rinse a can or kidney beans, add a can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup canned or frozen corn, 1/2 cup bottled salsa (or more to taste), heat and top with cheese, sour cream, avocado, or whatever you like and have on hand. To bump up the tummy filling factor, I sometimes add some precooked quinoa or brown rice and/or serve with tortilla chips crumbled on top.
  • Chili stuffed baked potatoes – heat up a can of chili (I use Amy’s), scrub and microwave a potato (I start at 3 minutes depending on size), split the potato, top with chili and cheese, sour cream, onions, whatever you have
  • Sloppy Jeans — Frozen ground beef substitute (I like Gardein) about 1/2 cup, some canned beans, drained and rinsed, bottled bar-b-que sauce. Heat it all up in a pan, serve it on a burger bun or open faced on bread.
  • Pesto Pasta – boil up some noodles or pasta, microwave a bag of frozen vegetables, (I like birds eye stir fry blend), drain the pasta, add enough pesto sauce to coat, top with vegetables and some grated parmesan or other topping you like.
  • Pizza Pasta – same concept, boil pasta, top with pizza sauce, add in whatever pizza style toppings you like (I use olives, chopped green pepper, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, you get the idea) pour it into a microwave safe dish (I use a pyrex pie plate), sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, microwave for a minute or two to melt the cheese or if you’re feeling up to it, slide it into the oven for a few minutes until melty and slightly brown on top.
  • Peanut Noodles – This was a favorite of my granddaughter, boil up some spaghetti style noodles (whole wheat angel hair pasta only takes about 5 minutes to cook), drain, top with bottled peanut sauce, sprinkle with chopped peanuts or yogurt.
  • Chana Masala – heat up a pouch of Tasty Bite Channa Masala, pour over re-heated precooked rice.

There you have it, 11 dinners that take very little time or energy to make. They’ll help you keep yourself fed (and the other members of your family as well) quicker than waiting in a fast food line (healthier too). On days like this when every muscle and joint in my body hurts, the wind is blowing and rocking the RV, it’s cold and rainy, I like to look through some of my old pictures and remind myself what’s so great about this life.

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