When Ice Cream From the Back Of Your Freezer Is Not Enough: Two Simple Recipes For When You’re Too Sad To Cook
If you, like me, struggle with depressive episodes, you know that the basic tasks required to function can feel impossible. It’s no wonder that many people struggle to feed themselves during times like these. The tips offered below have been helpful for me, but please take what feels useful and leave what does not. Our abilities, levels of functioning, and access to food vary widely, and what works for one person will not work for everyone. During my low points, healthy, low effort recipes like the two below have made a big difference in my immediate motivation and energy levels. I hope they can help you, too.
Eat healthy food when you can, but don’t stress it if you can’t! Healthy food will help you feel better in the short and long term, but at the end of the day it’s more important that you eat, and probably just as important that you eat food you will actually enjoy. If you have the energy, ingredients, and desire to eat a big salad, great. If the the very thought of eating lettuce makes you sad, don’t worry about it. If the choice is between the frozen french fries in your freezer or nothing, eat the french fries.
Cook big batches of food you can reheat later (or eat cold). When your energy and motivation are scarce, taking advantage of high functioning moments can help a lot. If I’m in a rough place but suddenly find myself with a bit of motivation, I try to cook food for later even if I don’t feel hungry in that moment. Casseroles and soups reheat easily and be complete meals in and of themselves. If you don’t have a microwave, consider food you can eat cold like premade salads (store the dressing separately) or just meat and veggies. Again, healthy food you want to eat is best, but something is better than nothing.
When necessary (and financially feasible) get delivery. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, in theory you could have made that food at home. But if you don’t have the energy, you don’t have the energy. I’m not suggesting you should spend your whole paycheck on delivery food, but if you can afford it and you know you’re not going to be feed yourself otherwise, don’t fret about it.
If you need it, ask for help. Many people find it difficult to talk about their mental health issues with others, even with trusted loved ones. The cultural stigma around mental health is undeniable, but if you are able to tell a friend, family member, or loved one that you are having trouble you may be surprised about how willing people are to help. Try scheduling times to eat dinner with friends, or try preparing and eating a meal while skyping with a loved one. Even just asking a friend to to check in and remind you to eat can help quite a bit.
Please be gentle with yourself. You could have wonderful family, friends, lovers, and everything you could ever want and this world will still offer you ten thousand reasons to be sad. Bad things happen. We grieve, we mourn, we find ourselves dealing with depression without any real reason at all. It is okay to not be okay. It is okay to need help. It is okay to struggle and be in pain. I hope these tips and recipes can make it a little easier for you to take care of yourself, but please know that you do not have to do and be everything. Be honest about what you need and what you can do. Seek help when you need it. Know that you are doing your best.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees f.
(!)Depending on your oven you may want to place the rack in the bottom third of the oven to prevent fat spills and smoke.
Roast Chicken and Veggies
For the chicken:
Season your chicken generously with salt and pepper (and other seasonings if using) inside and out. Thomas Keller says you should be able to physically see the salt on the skin of the chicken. Place in your roasting pan breast side up and, if you have butcher’s twine, tie the legs together. Place in the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes. Let rest for about 15 minutes before eating.
For the veggies:
Put the vegetable pieces in a medium or larger bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever adds on. Mix. Place bowl contents on a baking sheet, and put in the oven when you are taking out the chicken to cook while the bird rests (15-20 minutes, depending on the veggies and how cooked you want them).
Thomas Keller suggests rubbing the chicken with fresh butter and serving it with mustard for dipping. That’s definitely delicious. You could also make a honey mustard sauce if that’s more your style, or try a yogurt sauce or yogurt relish. Or eat it plain! Whatever.
I very often eat the leftovers cold or at room temperature for a couple days. You can also use them for other purposes, like the recipe below.
Super Quick Taco Salad
Grab a bowl. Throw all ingredients in the bowl. Mix. Eat.
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