Kitchen Hacks for Chronic Illness

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

I'm a Dietitian living with several chronic illnesses myself, so I really know how it feels to not want to cook or prepare food.

But with some trustworthy nutritional advice (see my previous post here) and small steps, it is possible to eat well.

In this blog post, I share with you my own personal kitchen hacks for chronic illness.

Healthy Snack Ideas:

Snacks can play an important role in adding nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables and fibre-rich foods into your diet (1).

For days when you’re not feeling great or don’t have the energy to cook, snacking can help you to get some energy and nutrition without much effort. Try to keep a supply of snacks in your cupboard and fridge for flare up days or general hunger pangs.

Some foods which I like to snack on include:

  • Hummus, carrot sticks and mini wholemeal pitta breads

  • ½ avocado mashed (or 2 tbsp guacamole) with a handful of tortilla chips

  • Chopped up apple and cheddar cheese with oatcakes or rice cakes

  • Cream cheese, smoked salmon/ham, sliced cucumber and crackers

  • Yoghurt, frozen berries (defrosted in microwave) with a handful of granola

  • Flapjack (homemade or store bought) with a banana

  • 30g nuts or mixed seeds, 2 squares dark chocolate, several pieces of dried fruit

Quick, Easy Meals for Flare up Days:

I sometimes refer to these meals as my "emergency meals". These as nutritious, balanced and filling meals which can be flung together in minutes.

It's worth stocking up your cupboard with some of the ingredients below on your "good" days. Doing an online shop is a really easy way of buying lots of heavy food (i.e. canned food) in bulk.

  • Baked beans, wholemeal toast, grated cheese

  • Pre-cooked packets of rice with a fillet of fish/meat/tofu and a tin of ratatouille

  • Slice of quiche, salad, jacket potato

  • Breaded fish/fish cake/pre-cooked fillet of fish with new potatoes (or ready cooked mashed potato) and frozen/tinned veg

  • Jacket potato with filling (i.e. tuna mayonnaise, cottage cheese and pineapple, baked beans and cheese, chicken, sweetcorn and natural yoghurt) and salad

  • Wholemeal Pitta pizzas (toast them first, cover in 2 tbsp passata/tomato puree, add toppings of your choice and a sprinkling of cheese - grill until cheese has melted)

  • Pasta, jar of tomato-based sauce (check the food label for low salt and sugar versions), mix in sweetcorn and tinned tuna

  • Cheese on toast with sliced tomato

  • Soup with bread roll, cheese and side salad

  • Wrap with protein (i.e. chicken/hummus/falafel), salad and flavourings of your choice (i.e. spring onion, mashed avocado, herby cream cheese, caesar dressing)

  • Couscous (made in minutes with boiling water) with frozen roasted vegetables and feta/halloumi

Meals Suitable for Bulk Cooking:

If freezing meals, ensure that the dish has cooled to room temperature before storing in the freezer.

Don’t forget to label it with the date you made it and a ‘best before’ date. For more information on how to store leftovers, click here.

  • Chilli con carne with rice and sweetcorn

  • Bolognese sauce (use a tin of ratatouille to save time and frozen, ready chopped onion)

  • Meat or vegetable curry (buy a jar of ready made curry sauce - I like Lloyd Grossman sauces)

  • Casserole (can be made in a slow cooker)

  • Soups (most freeze well)

  • Pasta dishes i.e. lasagne

  • Homemade fishcakes or bean burgers

Foods to Keep in Your Freezer:

  • Frozen fruit and vegetables (I always have frozen berries, pre-chopped onions, peas, green beans, spinach, broad beans and roasted Mediterannean vegetables)

  • Frozen potato wedges/chips (regular or sweet potato depending on your preference)

  • Frozen bean burgers and fish cakes

  • Several ready meals for days when you really can’t cook (I like frozen moussaka, fish pie and lasagne. Cook do an excellent range of home-made frozen ready meals which can be delivered to your door, but it is quite expensive)

  • Frozen fillets of fish (plain or breaded), sausages (veggie or meat)

Foods to Keep in the cupboard:

  • Nuts and mixed seeds

  • Oatcakes/crackers/rice cakes

  • Popcorn in mini bags

  • Malt loaf/flapjacks/cereal bars

  • Dried fruit

  • Dark chocolate

  • Nut butters

  • Tinned vegetables (tomatoes, sweetcorn)

  • Tinned fruit (I like mandarins, grapefruit, pears)

  • Salad dressing

  • Baked beans

  • Ready made pasta sauces and curry sauces

  • Pre-cooked rice (I like basmati and wholegrain rice)

  • Couscous and pasta

  • Tinned fish (i.e. salmon, sardines, tuna)


Useful Websites & Resources for Simple Recipes:

Jamie Olive 5 Ingredients Cookbook Recipes

BBC Quick & Easy Meals

Budget Bytes Recipes

Amy Sheppard Instagram Account Recipes

BBC Good Food Student Recipes

Asda Good Living Recipes

Healthline Simple & Healthy Snacks

BBC Under 20 minute Recipes