When the main family cook is sick and the rest of the family needs to provide the meals, there are several strategic moves you can make that will help simplify mealtime, while keeping it healthy.
This week’s $50 menu was born out of the fact that I was ill and my husband, Larry, became responsible for feeding the family healthy food without going over our $50 weekly budget.
I have spent the past twenty days fighting and recovering from the virus (who shall not be named). So, for more than a week I really was not up to preparing food for my family.
My husband and two youngest sons stepped up to the plate and got meals that were both healthy and inexpensive. Larry does not possess a lot of cooking skills. So, these recipes are ultra simple to prepare.
Healthy Food Strategies
Let’s start with a list of ways that you can simplify meal prep without paying significantly more for food that week.
Use one or two ingredients in multiple recipes
Larry began his journey in cooking by purchasing a ten pound bag of potatoes for about $3.00 at Aldi. This gave him an ingredient that could be used in a lot of different ways without getting boring.
Then, he cooked two pounds of brown lentils. Lentils contain a boatload of fiber and protein, are super inexpensive, and are incredibly versatile. He used the lentils in soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes, and tacos.
Keep it simple
Honestly, when someone is sick, even the caregivers are expending a lot more energy and taking care of a multitude of additional household tasks. They don’t need to worry about planning a gourmet menu.
The best thing you can do is follow the mantra of: K.I.S.S. – “Keep it super simple”. You don’t need to prepare a lot of dishes. You just need to “get ’em fed”.
Let’s take a look at what Larry prepared while I was sick
This week’s menu
Nothing says lovin’ like a hot breakfast. This week, oatmeal was on the table every morning along with in-season fruit. Our youngest is a huge cream of wheat fan. So, Larry always obliges Phil with a bowl of his favorite morning goodness.
- Oatmeal – Cost: $2.00
- Fruit – Cost: $3.00
- Cream of Wheat – Cost: $1.00
- Oat Milk – $2.00
Total cost of 7 days of breakfast: $8.00
The day before I got sick I was able to make a big batch of split pea soup. This sustained us for about two days before Larry needed to flex his soup-making muscles.
By the time Larry was at the soup-making phase of the week, our 16 year old sous chef son (who also had the virus) was feeling better and was able to assist him.
They settled on two favorites that were super easy to throw together: lentil and smoky white bean soups. These recipes happen to both be my original recipes and we’ve made each of them countless times.
Total cost of soups: $8.00
Lunch and Dinner
Since I was sick, Larry kept meals very, very simple. Each of these dishes stretched to feed us for 2-3 nights. Remember, when someone is sick, not only is comfort food important, the need to minimize the amount dishes and work is also a consideration.
We topped our potatoes with whatever we had on hand: leftover lentils, rice, beans, etc. We also added barbecue sauce or salsa and a sprinkling of dry roasted peanuts.
Serve taco-seasoned lentils over greens the first night for lentil taco salad. The next night, leftover taco-seasoned lentils can be mounded on toasted corn tortillas and topped with tomato, lettuce, olives, and salsa for quick and easy tostadas.
When you have a sick family member, everyone is exhausted – caregivers included. So, do what you can to make your life as easy as possible.
- Lentil taco salad – Cost: $7.00
- Hot stuffed baked potatoes – Cost: $4.00
- Barbecued Lentil Sandwiches – Cost: $5.00
Total cost of lunch and dinner: $16.00
This week’s salads were created with romaine lettuce and spinach which were purchased for just $.99 per package. All of the greens were on markdown at Kroger, making salad a very healthy, convenient, and inexpensive option for both lunch and dinner this week.
- Corn – Cost: $1.00
- Salad – Cost: $8.00
Total Cost of Side Dishes: $9.00
Total Cost of This “Under the Weather” Menu: $41.00
What are your “go to” meals when you or someone else in the family feels under the weather? Leave your strategies in the comments section.