For people with chronic illnesses, it can be a perpetual tug of war when it comes to food. Sure, it might be healthier to wake up with an egg white scramble and a carefully peeled grapefruit or end the day by making a well-balanced dinner, but it’s so much easier to reach for something packaged and easy. And that cycle tends to feed on itself, with your body feeling worse as you give it less nourishing foods, making it harder and harder to find the energy to whip out those culinary skills.
This is where an easy food prep list can save the day (and week, even). It’s so hard to come up with ideas while you’re staring at the fridge, but having a few basic recipes on hand can go a long way. These will, of course, vary based on your individual needs, so don’t be afraid to pick and choose as-needed.
Topped Toast. Whether you’re more of an avocado salt kind of person or you prefer a peanut butter with sliced banana, it’s hard to go wrong with this one. The best part is that getting creative with it requires so little extra effort. Sprinkle with a fun spice, chia seeds, or even a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and you’ve elevated a 3-minute breakfast into the land of the irresistible.
Blended Smoothie. You can go in a million and one directions with this, but the basic recipe is going to be:
- 1 cup liquid (milk, non-dairy milk, water)
- 1 cup frozen fruits/veggies (cauliflower is surprisingly good here!)
- 1 piece ripe fruit (i.e. a banana)
- 1 cup ice
- Any optional add-ins, like protein powder, chia seeds, oats, etc.
The Humble ‘Wich. Sandwich, that is. Here’s the thing, it’s easy to go off the rails here and make a good ‘wich gone bad. Opting for a whole wheat bread, going light on the spreads and choosing less-processed meats will leave you with a great lunch, though. Oh, and pile those veggie toppings as high as Shaggy and Scooby Doo would!
Caesar Salad. Why Caesar, specifically? Because with other salads it can be easy to get bogged down in the details. Romaine lettuce + a serving of croutons + a sprinkle of parmesan + pre-grilled chicken. Done.
The Platter. Perfect in all forms, from the very simple to the complex. The basic outline can be protein – veggie – sauce. Mediterranean style could be grilled chicken – cherry tomatoes – hummus. Make it Mexican style with steak strips – bell peppers – salsa. Expand from there and enjoy!
Stir-Fry. If you’re up for a little bit more, stir-fries are one of the most flexible options. A little bit of protein (anything works here, really) and some frozen vegetables cooked together with bottled healthier-for- you sauce and you’re all set. Just watch out for those sugar-heavy concoctions you can find in stores.
Keep these ideas on hand for the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and you can make your kitchen time just a little less stressful. Having a chronic illness doesn’t need to hold you back from eating healthy.