Cooking and Meal Planning Ideas for the Sick
When you’re feeling under the weather–especially due to a chronic or severe condition–preparing and eating a healthy meal isn’t always a high priority. Helping a sick friend or loved one with meal prep or grocery shopping is a great way to show you care. It seems like everyone fondly remembers a time from their childhood where someone prepared a special meal when they were ill. So we’ve collected some of our favorite ideas to help inspire you when the common cold or other illness comes knocking at your loved one’s door!
Planning your meals and snacks:
- Keep the person in mind. There are plenty of ideas about what to feed someone who’s sick, but if they won’t take a bite of a veggie when they’re well, don’t plan on stocking their crisper drawer when they’re not. Don’t forget to consider food allergies and special diets.
- Also, keep the illness in mind. What works for constipation may worsen diarrhea, so don’t be afraid to ask for a few details before heading to the grocery store or pantry.
- Timing is everything. Try to get a gauge what level of help is desired and when. Though you might want to help cover three square meals a day, your friend may simply want a little space. Don’t take it personally–your kind gestures are surely appreciated.
Reviewing various food options:
- Meals – There are many options for providing a fully prepared or nearly prepared meal. You may personally prepare homemade chicken noodle soup that may be reheated later on, stock the freezer with homemade entrees (don’t forget the directions) or even offer to help order in. Frozen food and delivery options have come a long way from just pizza.
- Snacks – Taking a little time to cut up some carrots and pineapple may make the difference between a fresh treat vs. a prepackaged item with less nutritional value. Granola bars, nuts and
- Liquids – Some drinks like milk may actually increase mucus production or fruit juice may inflame an already upset stomach, so working around the specific illness is key. Sports drinks, hot cider, and broth are all options that help hydrate the body. Water is always an option and may be more palatable with lemon or other fruit additions.
- Care Packages – Not sure what to do or want to offer a wide variety smaller of options? Try building a custom care package! They are a great way to provide an interesting mix of treats that can be enjoyed anytime.
- If nausea is a problem due to a medication or an illness, keep the solid foods to a minimum. Basic crackers, soup stock and sports drinks with electrolytes are perfect during these times.
- Think small – it may be easier to eat smaller more frequent meals when you’re sick. This helps avoid the misery of being overly full and helps with lack of an appetite. Bonus tip – though healthy options are best, sometimes favorite comfort foods may help in a pinch.
- If low energy is an issue, frozen meals can help get you by. Not all meals are created equal so try to find more nutritious options with lower sodium.
- Sore throats and mouths can make anyone lose their appetite. Softer foods such as oatmeal, scrambled eggs and smoothies can help provide nutrients while minimizing discomfort.
- Remember the BRAT diet – don’t laugh at the name, this approach really works for those with diarrhea. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
- Don’t forget the rest of the family. If the sick person is typically the family chef, helping to provide a meal for the whole house would be appreciated exponentially. The bonus recuperation time helps all involved.