Why You Should Menu Plan With a Chronic Illness

 Why You Should Menu Plan With a Chronic Illness

Why You Should Menu PlanWith a Chronic Illness

Just 30 minutes or less a week can save you more time, stress and spoons than you could ever imagine.

When I began writing the kitchen spoon saver series I began referring to my “menu plan”.  It was then I realized I should probably begin with a post about why menu planning is important and how it works.

Below I wanted to share a few of the objections/questions I have encountered over time and my response to each.

Why should I have a menu plan when I barely cook?

How many times have you gone to the cabinet and found nothing to eat?

Decided to make lunch or supper only to realize your missing a key ingredient or it is still frozen?

I don’t know about you but when this happens at our house my frustration level goes up and I become stressed.  Stress equals tension and tension equals pain.  Not a combination I like to trigger when it can be avoided.

Even if you seldom “cook” you need to eat, especially on a restricted diet.

Creating a menu and keeping the basic items needed on hand enables you to, hopefully, have a healthier diet and decreases the amount of stress and work involved.

What about the nights I simply run out of spoons?

On those nights we have a “go to meal” planned and available.

Confessions:  This happens several times a week at our house.  By the time I push myself all day long I can barely stand in the kitchen cooking.  I love to cook and it is one of the reasons I have found ways and tools to adapt but since supper is at the end of the day I am generally dragging myself around just waiting to find the recliner or bed.

At our house a “go to meal” is usually pasta, tacos (meat is precooked in the freezer), boxed lasagna, sandwiches, pizza or a pre-made freezer meal (see my favorite items to prep and freeze here.)

Anything quick and easy that my teenagers can heat up or I do not need to prep and stand over is considered a “go to meal”.

Update:   With the new food intolerances we now keep deviled eggs, salad supplies and precooked chicken on hand for me and my oldest daughter to create chef salad.

How can creating menu save spoons, time and energy?  It sounds like a lot of work.

1.)  You can shop or send someone else for the ingredients for the week in one trip.  BTW have I ever mentioned how much I hate to get dressed, load the van and run to the store?  I do not care for it, at all.  I am more than happy to stay snuggled up warm and cozy at home in my sweats, thank you very much.   Instead we make a monthly trip for all non-perishable items and weekly for those that will expire quickly.

2.)  Prep work can be done in advance with help, if needed To see some of the items we prep and freeze click here.


Prep work can be completed throughout the day so you don’t run out of steam at dinner time.

3.)  You are more likely to eat healthy with a plan in mind, instead of grabbing what is available in a prepackaged box.

4.)   You will save money.  Less trips to the store means less gas and less impulse purchases.  It also means you are less likely to waste items that might otherwise expire in your refrigerator.

5.)  You know what needs to be thawed and can take it out of the freezer the night before or that morning.  No more freaking out at 4:30 with that too common phrase  ” What’s for supper?”

6.)  Menu planning lowers your stress level considerably, therefore reducing blood pressure, headaches and pain.

Menus can be simple or complex.

Some weeks I plan down to every dessert and side dish.  More often I simply decide on seven meals and pencil them into the calendar.  The “flexible” menu as I call it adjusts for those nights when I have food thawed but am unable to cook it.  I simple move that dinner plan to the next evening so the thawed meat is not wasted.

How Do I Start?

Begin by making a list of your family’s top 20 meals divided into two categories.  Easy-little prep work and supervision and Hard-requires more physical activity

Now check your freezer, fridge and cabinets for items you have on hand.

I usually make a note of the meat items before I sit down.

Check your local sales and make a note of items you might like to use.

At our house I only plan LUNCH & SUPPER most weeks.

I like to plan two weeks at a time (pay periods) but will often change the menu each week based on new schedules, appointments and changes in menu because of surprise ER trips.

My weekly menu might look something like this except in pencil.


  Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
 Lunch Leftovers or
Leftovers Tuna Salad Eggs & Toast Drive Through Soup and
Hot Dogs & Mac & Cheese
Plans Meeting 6:00pm J works at 6:00pm Dr. Appt 1:00pm
Supper Chicken Scampi
(Freezer meal)
 Ranch Chicken Chili
French Bread
Garlic Bread
Parmesan Chicken Strips
French Fries
Pizza (my kids fave) Ribeye
Baked Potato
Green Beans
Ingredients Rice
Premade Bag Chicken
(Freezer Meal)
Garlic Bread
Cottage Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Fries or Fresh Potatoes
Canned Biscuits
Ice Cream
Green Beans

If you notice there is a space in the center labeled plans.  I always take into account what my activities are for the day and night.  If we have an appointment out of town or I have a meeting a 6:00pm then I know I need to plan something my children or hubby can start or that I can leave going in the crock pot.

There is also an additional column at the bottom.  This is to list all the ingredients you will need for that day’s menu allowing you to check items on hand and write down or highlight ingredients you need to purchase.  This comes in handy for “planning your shopping trip” in our next post.

Want to see more great ideas, tips and tricks from us and other chronic illness bloggers follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and sign up for weekly emails.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please feel free to comment below or email them to thezippyzebra@outlook.com.  We love to hear from you!

Why You SHould Menu Plan With a Chronic Illness to Save Time, Energy and Spoons PIN










Other Links to this Post

  1. The Zippy Zebra » How To Make Grocery Shopping Easier When You Have Physical Limitations — March 1, 2015 @ 3:59 pm

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