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“The flu has been particularly bad this year!” Everyone around me kept repeating this, I saw my students drop like fly until, inevitably, I was its next victim. As soon as I got sick, my first thought was “Dang it! I hate this!”, quickly followed by “What will happen to my meal prep plans?”…
I have to admit, when I am sick, I like eating junky canned soup…the kind I likely wouldn’t enjoy any other day of the year. Spaghetti O’s are #1 (bonus points for the Princess-shaped ones), followed by other types of chicken noodle or vegetable soups.
When I got the first signs of my sickness, I knew I would likely fall back into my old habits, but I also didn’t want to completely ruin the many weeks of good eating I’ve had. I decided to allow myself a few meals of junk food (Spaghetti O’s FTW), but then I wanted to eat food that might actually help make me feel better, or at least be good for me.
I want to start by saying, I am not a health professional. This post is mostly based on my own experience, what works for me, common sense, and some Internet research (from reputable sources). When I became sick, I started looking up what were good thing to eat. In my case, my symptoms were mostly cold-like (runny nose, sore throat), as well as fatigue and a mild fever. While some websites at questionable suggestions, most science and medical-based sources recommended two things: tons of liquid and vitamins. This is why I decided to create a soup-based meal prep for the week. That way, I could incorporate plenty of fluids, as well as many vegetables, which are, of course, a great source of many vitamins.
Here are my tips for preparing simple meals while sick:
- Prepare in advance: Whenever you make soup, freeze a couple individual portions. That way, the day you get sick, you will be able to thaw them and eat them while you’re not feeling well. Unfortunately for me, I had just gone through a big freezer cleaning and didn’t have any soup on hand.
- Use frozen vegetables: The beauty of frozen vegetables is that they are full of much needed vitamins, fairly cheap, and generally pre-cut. The day I got sick, I went to the store and bought a few bags of frozen vegetables to mix into a soup. If you don’t feel well, you won’t want to take a ton of time to chop onions, carrots and such.
- Simplify your recipe: Forget about browning your onions first or roasting your spices. If you are sick, you likely won’t have your full sense of smell and taste anyway, so, once again, save yourself some energy. Throw everything in, with minimal effort. It is also great to use any one-pot recipes. Throw everything in your slow cooker, your dutch oven or your Instant Pot and rest up while the soup is cooking. Avoid having too many dishes to clean.
Here are two recipes I made during my last sickness. Not only did they help keep me hydrated, they were super simple to make and made so much that I was able to freeze several portions and even share some with a friend who was also under the weather.
Vegetable Overload Soup
While this is the recipe I used, you can change it with anything you have on hand, or any vegetables you enjoy. My recipe included what I already had on hand (freezer, fridge and pantry), as well as a few extra items I bought. This soup can be made in a slow cooker or over the stove just as easily, simply by prolonging the cooking time.
– 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
– 1 can of tomato sauce
– 1 cup of chopped onion, fresh or frozen
– Half bag of frozen green bean
– Half bag of frozen corn
– Bag of frozen carrots and peas mix
– Kale, roughly chopped (fresh or frozen)
– 1 can of kidney beans
– 4 cups of water
– Italian seasonings, salt, pepper
1. Add all the ingredients in the Instant Pot.
2. Put the Instant Pot on “Pressure Cook” mode, at high pressure for 5 minutes.
3. That’s it!
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
– 2 chicken breasts, frozen or fresh
– 4 cups of chicken broth
– 2 cups of celery, chopped
– 2 cups of carrots, peeled and chopped
– 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic)
– 1 tablespoon of ginger paste
– 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
– 6 oz of dry whole wheat egg noodles
– 2-4 cups of water (to make sure there is enough liquid to cook the noodles and still have plenty of soup)
1. Add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot, except the noodles.
2. Put the Instant Pot on “Pressure Cook” mode, at high pressure for 15 minutes.
3. When cooking is done, press the quick release button.
4. Remove the chicken breasts from the pot and roughly chop them. Return the chicken pieces to the pot.
5. Add the egg noodles. Make sure there is plenty of liquid in the Instant pot.
6. Put the Instant Pot on “Pressure Cook” mode, at high pressure for 5 minutes.
7. Your soup is ready!
I will end this post by hoping that none of you will need these tips and recipes because you will not get sick. But hey, better safe than sorry, right? 🙂