When illness derails even your simplest daily plans – survival mode meals

Shares 1

Survival Mode Meals

I’m going to be honest – the last month has been stinky.  I’ve been dealing with a virus along with migraines twenty out of the last twenty five days, including one episode that lasted for over 48 hours.  I bet you’ve had times in your life when illness (yours or someone close to you) takes all your energy, leaving nothing for even the most basic routines.  I’m not even dealing with anything series or life-threatening, but it still saps all my resources.  I can only imagine that when the diagnosis is more serious and severe, it would all take an even bigger toll.

It’s discouraging and disheartening.  The whole time the Eat at Home Challenge was going on, I was struggling to get dinner for my family or some days, to even make it to the table myself.  My plans of sharing our meals on Instagram and creating new recipes fell by the wayside.  Even the nights I did make dinner, I didn’t find enough energy to take photos.

It left me feeling like a bit of a hypocrite as I encouraged others to make meal plans and eat at home, while we were making do with quick runs to the grocery and more restaurant trips than normal.

But it also made me realize that there are seasons in life when focusing on meal planning and cooking is not the right timing.  That’s the season I found myself in and maybe that’s where you are (or have been) too.

Some seasons call for survival mode.

Here are some things that have gotten my family through this (hopefully) temporary situation.  Maybe some of these ideas will help you too.

1.  Be kind with yourself.

It’s okay to cut things out of the calendar, pare down the housework to bare minimum, and have the easiest dinners ever.  This season of illness and recovery are temporary.  There will be a season of thriving later on when you can get things back the way you like them.

2.  Fall back to your easiest meals.

If you find something you or a family member can easily make and that is tolerated on a sick stomach, it’s okay to have it regularly.  There’s no prize for variety in this season.

3.  Don’t worry about big grocery trips.

I usually shop once a week and try to keep extra trips to a minimum.  During the last month though, we’ve made more grocery stops than I can count.  It just wasn’t possible to think through what we might need or want more than a couple days out.

4.  When you start to feel better…

~ Make a plan for simple meals.  The slow cooker is your friend, as it can be loaded in the morning when energy is higher.

~ Set backs happen.  Try not to get discouraged as you recover.  Focus on the progress you’re making.  If you need to grab food from a restaurant one night, it’s okay.

~ As your energy returns, try making something simple to stock the freezer.  I made a double batch of meatballs the other day and put half in the freezer.  It made me feel like I’d accomplished something and we have something easy and homemade for later.  You can do the same by doubling a favorite casserole or soup recipe.

I’d like to know what has worked for you as you pull back together after a “survival mode” time.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Carol Schultz says:

    Oh how I feel for you. I had migraines for a number of years but thank goodness most were never longer than 48 hours and I only worked at a job 3 days a week and was able to stay home if unable to cope.. One of the last bad ones I had did last for about a week and after that they slowly got farther and farther apart and I now haven’t had one for over 6 years. I think the worst part was finding it very hard to concentrate when I had one and I would have to make a note of my meal plan in order to get it all on the table at one time. Thank goodness my children were in their teens and could help when I needed them to as my hubby worked out of town so wasn’t home until about 7:00 p.m. I hope your migraines get gentler as time goes by, as mine did.

  2. I understand what you’re going through. I have RA and work full time. Thankfully, my kids are grown so it makes it easier for me. I try to have simple ingredients available in the pantry that someone can make quickly. I also like having extra meals in the freezer for these times.
    Don’t beat yourself up because we all go through these times. They will pass. Praying that you’re fully recovered!

  3. This is a lovely and helpful post. We will all find ourselves in this situation at times. Thanks for the reminders and encouragement.

  4. I totally get what you’re saying! For the last 17 months, I’ve had a migraine on a daily basis and it makes it very hard to function in life. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve allowed my OCD to take a back seat. Sometimes the housework doesn’t always get done. If you drop by for a visit, be prepared to see more dog hair around the house than on the dogs. I didn’t plant a big garden or a lot of flowers this year. I plan very easy meals that don’t take a lot of prep work. I grocery shop on Sunday’s at 1 store and come home and clean up everything for our lunches for the week {if I don’t do this, I won’t put them together even the night before and end up eating lunch out}. I’m do the point that I’m about the meal prep the dogs food for the week, LOL.

    • Oh, Amber a migraine everyday for that long has to be so hard. My prayers are with you. Your comment about meal prepping the dog food made me chuckle 🙂

  5. Hey there, I have been MIA from my blog reading because I have been in a blue funk. Feeling slightly better now and hope you are, too. Love these tips and your kind reassurance about allowing ourselves to take it easy in the kitchen when we just don’t feel good. Healing hugs to you! XO

  6. I’ve had several of those times lately, not really sick myself but life circumstances that take time and energy. This week I pulled out some turkey broth and rotisserie chicken from the freezer and soon I had a pot of chicken soup. There was enough for us and a friend who is not feeling well. Hopefully you are over the hump and feeling more like yourself.

  7. I’m sorry to hear of your illness (migraines are the worst) and hope you’re feeling better. The line about seasons in life where meal planning is just not the focus describes me to a T. After making a million meals, I just don’t want to do it anymore. However, we’re raising a grandchild and he deserves family meals, not grazing on salads or foods for adult taste buds. That’s why I recently subscribed to your meal planning, but haven’t gotten myself to get started. But it’s on my list!

Speak Your Mind