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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Life-Saving Meal Hacks For the Tired Caregiver

Providing Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Is It a Battle We Can Win?

A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. ~C.S. Lewis

It was time for a CS Lewis quote, one of my favorite authors. I think that man had a quote for every occasion for which I am grateful. And he’s right. My parents need nourishing meals even though food for them is nothing more than survival—Dad especially, since he doesn’t remember or understand why he needs to eat.

Today’s blog post has a few ulterior motives which we’ll uncover as we go. But most important, I wanted to share a few easy ways to have dinner on the table without hassle, or have it be time-consuming, and frustration-free for the caregiver. This is the difficult task most caregivers face as we ponder on how to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with healthy snacks in between. The kitchen doesn’t have to be a war zone, and the dinner table can be prepped for successful peace talks.

My cousin, Peter, who takes care of both his mom and dad, loves to have gourmet meals served three times a day. I don’t know how he does it, but he does make an art of it. I, on the other hand, need quick, simple, healthy, and yummy at the same time.

Let me arm you with a few life-saving hacks to overcome our food dilemma. Shop online with Walmart (or the store of your choice). Put those car keys away and fire up that cell phone or laptop. Walmart does not pay me to say nice things, but who knows, maybe they will in the near future. I'm working on it. 

I like Walmart since there's no nasty shipping and handling fee on orders over $35. Make sure, however, as some items are not shipped by Walmart.

Our pantry is usually stocked with canned soups, our favorite is Progresso’s Chicken and Orzo with lemon, canned potatoes, cereal, oatmeal, crackers, and power drinks—all ordered online. Walmart also has personal shoppers to handle your groceries, but for pick-up only—still a good deal.

My dad is easy to please so oatmeal for breakfast or cereal will suffice. Mom eats like a bird, but that’s a whole other story. Lunch is a bowl of soup and half a sandwich, or a simple salad. Have these things on hand and you’ll never have to wreck those brain molecules trying to think what will we eat today? Maybe use a daily calendar with a schedule of meals. 

For me, surviving the front lines, means having a go-to meal like spaghetti. It’s pantry food ready in minutes. Now-a-days they have veggie noodles, or gluten free noodles, even quinoa noodles, and healthy sauce options. We go with gluten free and spice up the sauce with sweet Italian sausage, sprinkle with cheese, and decorate with basil leaves. A salad on the side and we have a quick victory. 

Basil the Herb
Tip 1: grow your own herbs.
Tip 2: grow your own veggies
Tip 3fill up pantry with canned goods (also good for earthquake preparedness)
 Tip 4shop online

That brings me to wonderful life-saving-dinner hack number two. Take the stress out of cooking by joining online food deliverers like HelloFresh. And yes, I do earn a nice $30 check for everyone who orders HelloFresh through me. And for a limited time you'll receive $40 by signing up. I love to give.

Do they deliver great meals? So far they have—we’ve been with HelloFresh for little over a year now. The ingredients are fresh and you won’t have to measure anything, it’s all the right proportions. Food is absolutely marvelous and oh so tasty. No one needs to be a top chef, and it takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook the whole meal. Mom and Dad are still wondering how and when I became such a gourmet chef. It happened overnight, I tell them. I’m as surprised as they are.

The meals are delivered and kept comfortably fresh between ice packs. But more than anything, one order (we have the family plan) feeds our household of 5, twice with a few leftovers. My daughter can cook these meals, and my son has helped. Even mom likes to cut up the vegetables—excluding onions and garlic.

It’s another way to have dinner on the table quick and easy, and hassle free. Even when I’ve come home tired I can still have the meals ready to serve within the hour. Another nice thing is you can skip a week or two if you want.
Orzo with Chicken Sausage and Zucchini

I guess it’s all about preparation. We need battle plans. 

Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them. ~Ezekiel 38:7

Tip 4: For fresh groceries there is a service called InstaCart. Yes, you can order online from any store and a personal shopper goes shopping for you … and delivers. My son is doing this as a side job, which makes him a super hard working foot soldier since his other job is full-time at Amazon. Tip 5: Remember to tip your shopper.

Tip 6: Keep it simple. Being prepared will help with care-giving. This coming from someone who lacks organizational skills and pretty much excels at procrastination. It’s not as if you need the Lord to multiply five fishes and two loaves of bread … well, maybe you do. Be not dismayed he'll provide that way, you have but to ask. Nonetheless, with these days of convenience, you hardly ever have to leave home to get the things you need, though I highly recommend that you do once in a while. Get some fresh air, find time with friends, sit on the front porch and read a book, or relax in the garden with one of those gourmet meals you’re about to  create.

Tip 7: The day runs smoother when you start it out with prayer
Tip 8: Don't forget to join HelloFresh with me. I'm just saying.

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for simplifying my life. Help me to stay the course and keep it simple. You desire for us to come before you early in the morning so that you can take care of our days. I know I need to “seek first your kingdom and all these things shall be added unto me.” Give me wisdom, give me strength, and fill my home with joy so we can share a nourishing meal. Come dine with us.

Beloved Caregiver

 Come to my table
Prepared for you
Eat from my vineyard
Drink from my well
You’ll never be hungry
Or thirsty again

Come rest in fields of herbs and spices
Sit under the peach tree, the apple, and figs
Draw from the river that runs through my garden
Wait for the joy that waters it

I will dine with you
I will share this meal
There is nothing to bring
But a heart that can sing

(copyright 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the Hello Fresh idea sounds wonderful even for those of us who are not caregivers. Thanks for the tip.