There are days when living with a chronic illness makes it feel like you are holding things together with a very fragile spider web. (Photo taken this morning at Laguna Gloria)

With my health challenges, it can be really hard to make dinner some days, if not impossible.  Life with a chronic illness is akin to life with small kids, except on steroids.  I won’t even try to describe what life with a chronic illness was like combined with three small children who are less than three years apart in age.  Because of all of these challenges, I’ve developed many strategies to help keep healthy homemade food on our table.

One of the most important things we own is a full size freezer.  It lives in our garage, and it is an amazing help to us.  When its predecessor died a few years ago, there was no question about replacing it.  It was just a matter of seeing which store in town could get us a replacement as quickly as possible.   We keep a good supply of meat, potato products, tortillas, breads, fruits, and vegetables in there so that if getting to the store becomes a problem, we have more than enough frozen goods to keep us going for a while.  We also use it to stock up on sale items to save a little money when possible.

Equally important, we use the garage freezer to store meals that I have prepared and frozen.  When I cook meals like casseroles, soups or stews, I often make a double batch so I can freeze it.  I will freeze things both in family sized containers for full meals and in individual portions so that I have easy lunches for myself.  At times when I’m having a run of good health, our garage freezer gets rather full, but inevitably a bad spell will happen, and we will deplete the frozen food supply temporarily until I start cooking again.

In addition, the crockpot is my friend.  My energy level is at its highest early in the mornings; as the day goes by, I get more exhausted and my body becomes more painful.  Hence, if I can get a dinner started in the morning hours on days when I know I’m going to be fairly useless by dinner time, we still have a healthy meal.  During the summer, the crockpot is also a great way to make a hearty meal without standing over a hot stove or turning on the oven in the Texas heat.  I have quite a few crockpot recipes that are staples for us that I’ll be sharing as I make them.

There are still some nights when I just can’t make what I had planned earlier in the day.  I almost always have a Plan B going in the back of my mind so that if my health gives out during the day and I have to hand over meal preparation to someone else, there’s something simple and easy they can make rather than the more elaborate concoction I might have originally had in mind.  Mercifully, those days are becoming fewer as time goes by, but they do still happen.  There was a time when I was not able to do any of our meal preparation at all, and I am so glad those days are behind us now.  Cooking is one of my great pleasures in life, and I’m happy to be able to do it so often again.