3 Time-Saving Tips for Meal Prep for Spoonies
As we juggle life with jobs, school, children, family, friends and of course the unpaid full-time job of living with autoimmune conditions, time becomes one of our most precious commodities. Sometimes, I have a couple of hours to either napping while Baby Isa is sleeping or prepping meals for the week. Ordering pizza could be the answer, but that extra cost for a gluten-free pizza and the potential for cross contamination makes me resist the temptation.
I started Actemra last month, a biologic medication to treat adults with moderately to severely active Rheumatoid Arthritis, but it did not have the same WOW effect as Cimzia or Humira once did in terms of reducing the inflammation and related symptoms (i.e. morning stiffness, pain, fatigue, sausage fingers). Cimzia stopped working for me after delivering my baby, breastfeeding exacerbated the inflammation, and the pain was unbearable. Hence, the choice to feed formula to my baby and start another biologic to be able to function as a new mom.
As I adjust to the new therapy, I am making more conscious choices to plan the meals for the week, which comes in handy when the pain, fatigue, brain fog and all the unpleasantness of autoimmune conditions strikes.
1. K.I.S.S: Keep Ingredients Simple, Simple
When we start with meal planning, it can be overwhelming to follow steps, prepare a grocery list, plan the meals for the week, so is easy to throw in the towel. While variety is important to fight inflammation, first start planning recipes with less ingredients, five to 10. For people living with pain and fatigue, it is not only important to keep ingredients simple, but also use cooking methods that don’t put a strain on the joints or muscles (I can’t even consider using that pressure cooker my mom brought me from Colombia when my fingers are as swollen as turkey sausages).
2. Batch cooking at least one day a week
Try cooking double or triple to enjoy for the first days of the week, and then freeze the rest. You can try to keep boiled plain quinoa and then use it in several recipes during the week. Planning the meals in advance is also a great way to save money at the grocery store, add more veggies or fruits into your menu. You may store salads, soups, or home-made parfaits in Mason Jars for the weekly meals-to-go.
3. Cook easy recipes
As we navigate the whole-foods and anti-inflammatory “diet world”, there are just certain recipes that are either too complicated or too expensive. Although I enjoy cooking and tweaking recipes, I don’t want to be in the kitchen for too long when I come home from a busy day at work. I want to spend time with my hubby and my baby. I stock on frozen fruits, frozen vegetables, canned legumes, and keep them as a back-up for those weeks that did not get a chance to visit the grocery store.
Let’s start with this simple and flexible protein choice: