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Healthy Cooking Hacks for When You Are Exhausted

For most of us with lupus, chronic fatigue is unfortunately here to stay. My own chronic fatigue makes it especially difficult to do household chores. After waking up exhausted and then working, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner in the evening. Over the years, I’ve come up with some hacks to make preparing and eating healthy food easier when I don’t have the energy to cook. Using these tricks, I save money and eat healthy, no matter how I feel.

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Cooking tips for lupus fatigue

Buy pre-seasoned chicken

Most grocery stores sell pre-seasoned boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It’s usually in the meat aisle alongside chicken legs and quarters and typically costs under $10. To prepare it, I just place the chicken on a greased pan and pop the pan in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. I usually have to adjust the cooking time based on the size of the chicken breasts, and I always cut into the chicken to make sure the center is no longer pink before I eat it. A package of pre-seasoned chicken served over some quinoa or brown rice usually produces about 8 servings, which takes care of dinner for the week. Best of all, it only takes about 3 minutes to prepare, and I can rest on the couch while it’s baking.

Consider cartons of pour and heat-up soup

Heat and serve soup doesn’t have to come in a gelatinous lump that keeps the shape and taste of the can when you dump it into a bowl. I’ve bought some delicious premade soup in cartons at my local grocery store. My favorite flavor is red pepper and tomato. Best of all, it takes less than 2 minutes in the microwave to prepare. When I’m working or on the go, I sometimes heat my soup up in a coffee cup and skip the spoon altogether.

Invest in a slow cooker and rice cooker

They say robots will one day take over the world, and I can’t say I object when it comes to my kitchen. Both slow cookers and rice cookers save me valuable time and energy because I don’t have to stand near a stove and monitor the cooking process. These appliances shut off automatically, so I never have to worry about my dinner burning. I simply put my ingredients into my slow cooker before work, set the timer, and then enjoy a hot meal later with little effort.

Identify go-to easy recipes

Part of the reason cooking can be so draining is that it takes mental energy to decide what to cook. That’s why I have a few go-to recipes that I like to make when I have limited mental energy. I keep cans of stewed tomatoes, chili peppers, and beans on hand to make slow cooker chili when I can’t decide what to cook. Another favorite is scrambled eggs with sriracha on a tortilla, which takes about 5 minutes to make.

Prep ingredients and freeze them

When I’m too tired to cook, the last thing I want to do is mince a bell pepper or chop an onion. So, I prep these ingredients when I’m feeling well, then freeze them to use in recipes later. I also sometimes buy freeze-dried minced onions or garlic that I can just sprinkle onto the food I’m cooking with no chopping involved.

Try to meal prep when you feel well

While this isn’t realistic every month, I plan and prep my meals for the month in advance. I go grocery shopping one day, then spend a few hours on my day off cooking 4 different meals. I divide the meals into individual portions, label them, and then put them in the freezer to heat up over the course of the month.

I’m often too tired to cook. But with a little planning and creativity, I still manage to eat healthy.

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