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.
- Split Pea Soup – Cost: $2.00
- Italian Lentil Soup – Cost: $3.50
- Smoky White Bean Soup – Cost: $2.50
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.
10 thoughts on “Quick Weekly Menu for When You are Under the Weather”
I’m so happy prayers were answered that you’re on the mend. Thank you for the vegan recipe books you mentioned this morning. I will have to order them on line. Again thank you for your expertise. Love you and Larry.
Hi, Audrey, thanks so much for the prayers. I’m doing a little better every day. Larry and I walked a mile after supper tonight. Not too long of a walk, but it was the first time I’ve felt up to walking in over two weeks. So, I know I’m headed in the right direction and getting better.
I don’t have anyone to cook for me, but I keep my freezer stocked with intentional leftovers. I also know how to eat simply, so putting together simple meals is something that would not be too taxing; oatmeal, simple sandwiches, using frozen vegetables, etc.
You’re absolutely right! I’ve been saved many a time by just having some meals in the freezer to grab when something unexpected happens. And I LOVE your term “intentional leftovers”. What a great way to put it!
I’m so glad you are better. This virus is super scary.
I discovered lentil sloppy Joe’s this week.
One can lentils, bbq sauce, tomato paste, water, sautéed onions and green pepper(sautéed in a bit of water) garlic and smoked paprika. Yum!
It’s surprising how simple and yet delicious it is to make. I need to write up my recipe for barbecue lentils and add it to the website.
Hi Hope ,
First of all thank you for sharing your recipes and tips for so many things like finances , frugality, food and simple living.
Secondly i want to thank you for the Italian lentil soup recipe i have a fussy 7 year old and she loved it when i made it .
God bless you and your family and will wait till your next new video is out .
Yay! I’m so excited that your 7 year old loved the soup. It’s always been a favorite for my boys. In fact, when my oldest two children moved out, that recipe was the first one that they called and asked for.
Am enjoying your website a lot! Just signed up /subscribed to your Website. Thank you for making that so easy. IM 75 and struggle quite a bit with learning and using the computer. I would take classes but we’re in the middle ( Yes, IM afraid it IS the the MIDDLE and not the end) of COVID. My husband passed away awhile ago so IM on my own for now and have to make it all work for me on my own. I enjoy your humor and you often make my day. I decided to write to you after reading about what you will and have spent real amounts of money on. Prior to that I kept thinking “This is’nt me” , but of course this is me and probably more so than you! You’ve made feel like I can make it on my own now. Thank You. Betz
Elizabeth, thanks for writing. I’m about five weeks out from the start of my bout with COVID and I’m still not back to 100%. It does take time. My condolences on your loss. My mother just lost her husband of 37 years and I know the loss has been really hard on her. And she’s now learning new computer skills, too. I’m so glad that you are with us. You feel free to write any time you have a question.