The Caregiver Cup Podcast

Caregiver Cuisine: What's for Dinner Tonight?

April 09, 2024 Cathy VandenHeuvel Episode 208
Caregiver Cuisine: What's for Dinner Tonight?
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
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The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Caregiver Cuisine: What's for Dinner Tonight?
Apr 09, 2024 Episode 208
Cathy VandenHeuvel

Send Cathy a text:)

As a fellow traveler on the caregiving journey, I know the daily grind can sometimes leave us feeling like mealtime is just another mountain to climb. That's why I'm bringing you tried-and-true meal planning strategies to lift the burden off your shoulders.  We'll tackle everything from the art of crafting a weekly meal plan that syncs with the unpredictable rhythm of caregiving, to the wonders of slow cookers and the hidden gems of local meal service businesses. Join me as we explore ways to keep both our spirits and our loved ones well-nourished, with a nod to our listener Maria, who reminds us all of the resilience and dedication found in the heart of every caregiver.

In this heart-to-heart, you'll not only hear tips and personal tales from my own life as a working mom but you'll also find out how to turn your kitchen into a haven of efficiency. We'll chat about the magic of prepping ingredients ahead of time, the genius of repurposing leftovers into new, mouth-watering dishes, and even how to embrace meal delivery services on those days when the stove might as well be on Mars. It's all about keeping mealtime simple, satisfying, and stress-free. So, whether you're someone who relishes the sizzle of the skillet or you approach cooking with the enthusiasm of a cat in water, this episode is your culinary compass, pointing you towards peaceful evenings and plates full of love.

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Thank you for listening. If you know of another caregiver who could benefit from this podcast, please copy and share this episode.

Follow me by clicking on the links below:

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Send Cathy a text:)

As a fellow traveler on the caregiving journey, I know the daily grind can sometimes leave us feeling like mealtime is just another mountain to climb. That's why I'm bringing you tried-and-true meal planning strategies to lift the burden off your shoulders.  We'll tackle everything from the art of crafting a weekly meal plan that syncs with the unpredictable rhythm of caregiving, to the wonders of slow cookers and the hidden gems of local meal service businesses. Join me as we explore ways to keep both our spirits and our loved ones well-nourished, with a nod to our listener Maria, who reminds us all of the resilience and dedication found in the heart of every caregiver.

In this heart-to-heart, you'll not only hear tips and personal tales from my own life as a working mom but you'll also find out how to turn your kitchen into a haven of efficiency. We'll chat about the magic of prepping ingredients ahead of time, the genius of repurposing leftovers into new, mouth-watering dishes, and even how to embrace meal delivery services on those days when the stove might as well be on Mars. It's all about keeping mealtime simple, satisfying, and stress-free. So, whether you're someone who relishes the sizzle of the skillet or you approach cooking with the enthusiasm of a cat in water, this episode is your culinary compass, pointing you towards peaceful evenings and plates full of love.

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening. If you know of another caregiver who could benefit from this podcast, please copy and share this episode.

Follow me by clicking on the links below:

Speaker 1:

Well, hello there and welcome to another episode of the Caregiver Podcast. It's Kathy here. Hey, if you're coming back for another weekly podcast episode. Thank you, my friend, for continuing to go ahead and listen to the episode. It means so much to me. But, most importantly, I hope that you're finding different things to think about, different tactics and techniques and habits that you can incorporate. The main goal for me is I hope that you take these and you can find ways to become a better caregiver and a healthier caregiver. If you're brand new to this episode and this is the very first one you're listening to my name is Kathy Vanden Heuvel.

Speaker 1:

I started this podcast back in 2020 because I'm a caregiver myself, and today's topic we're going to be talking about is a challenge that probably you and I commonly face every single day, or something that we have to think about every single day. It's a fun topic, but it's a challenge to talk about. It's a question that I get often in emails, in just conversations that I have with caregivers. As a matter of fact, we talked about this topic in our Empowerful Caregiver School in one of our live lessons and, as a matter of fact, the Empowerful Caregiver School is the digital course that I offer and it's coming back open. The enrollment's going to be open and you can register for it again at the end of the month, so be watching and listening. I'll be announcing it in an upcoming episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast and telling you about where you can go ahead and enroll. But this topic really came to me from an email that I received from Maria. She had asked me about what's for dinner and the challenges that she faced, and so I added this to my list of episode topics that I wanted to talk about. And I got this email about a month ago and I'm going to share Maria's email with you and read it so that you can kind of get a gist of what the email is all about and why I picked it and why it's such an important topic to talk about. It says Hi, kathy. Thank you so much for your insightful messages.

Speaker 1:

I am a caregiver to husband for 11 years now. He's doing well after a stroke but has aphasia. So, as if I didn't talk enough, I have been blessed to being his voice and advocate in one. He also has some physical limitations due to right-sided weakness. Also has some physical limitations due to right-sided weakness, but nonetheless grateful. I can't speak, but nonetheless grateful. He is still the same man I married over 40 years ago.

Speaker 1:

I have one question as I navigate my way through your course for essential practices to reduce stress Do you address any or have any insights on the one looming question what's for dinner? I do try to keep it simple and healthy, try to stick to a rotation and have it prepared before lunch as I lose steam as the day goes on, no interest in slicing and dicing later in the afternoon. Bless you for all you do Sincerely, maria. Okay, let's talk about the first paragraph, which I kind of botched up a little bit, but I think you got the gist of it. Maria, I feel your optimism, compassion, love and gratitude in the words that you wrote.

Speaker 1:

I also want to address that caring for someone for 11 years has to be a journey filled with challenges, commitments, sacrifices and lots and lots of work. I'm sending you warm thoughts, strength and health, and I know this community of listeners is doing it as well. Oh my gosh, 11 years here. Every so often I start complaining about my six plus years and I can't even imagine so. I also wanted to mention that Maria was referencing this four essentials practices to reduce stress course and I did this one as a free four-part training back in January. So if you haven't taken it, just send me an email and I can get that to you. I'm not going to post it out in the real world, but if you are a listener of mine, just send me a message at Kathy and my name is with a C, kathy at kathylindvanncom, and mention the free training or the four essential training and I'll get you that training into our membership portal so that you can go ahead and take it. Just know that it was taken back in January, so there'll be mentions of the date in January, but all of the information is good. It's four practices that I feel that can reduce your stress.

Speaker 1:

Now let's go on to the topic and the question that she has what's for dinner? Right, that's a question or a habit or something that we do. It's a great question and one that we, as caregivers, have to deal with daily. Just like you said, it's hard to keep it simple and healthy, maria said, and trying to stick to a rotation and a preparation later in the day can be hard. She mentioned she loses steam. All of that energy is exhausted during the day and so, by the end of the day, meal prepping and meal planning and fixing can be hard.

Speaker 1:

Now I'm going to admit something I am not a good cook. I don't really like to cook. Now, don't get me wrong. I love to bake desserts because they're fun and you can lick the batter and all that kind of stuff. So there's little rewards. But cooking for me is harder and I don't really enjoy it. There's bits and pieces I might enjoy, but it's not something I enjoy. I relate it to like taking a shower or making your bed. It's not something I'm waking up and saying I love to make my bed, I love to go ahead and shower, but you do it, you just do it, and you enjoy whatever you can through it. Now for those who enjoy cooking, I so envy you and you have this creative part of your brain and your body. I want you to use this as fuel today to help you get more energized in cooking. And if you're not liking to cook, I know this is going to help you as well. So, either way, let's talk about tricks, practices, habits or hacks that can make life easier, especially when you're planning that last meal of the day and really going ahead and doing it.

Speaker 1:

First of all, maria identified her challenges as a stressor or as an energy buster and, most importantly, something that, if done, can improve her health as well as her loved ones. So she identified that, the big thing you want to do when you identify a challenge or anything that you want to improve on. I do this. I call this just a two-step process. When you identify a challenge that you have or something goes to haywire and you just have to figure it out, first thing you have to do is you have to go ahead and be aware of it and really celebrate that you're aware of it. And when Maria was aware of it, she identified that she runs out of steam good awareness there. She doesn't want to do any dicing and slicing at this time. That's another awareness piece. So she knows what she wants to do and she knows what she doesn't want to do. She knows that she wants to eat healthy and I'm assuming, if you're anything like me, we've been in the boat where we don't have any steam left and we might order takeout or we might resort to something that's not healthy and that can go ahead and just kind of be a snowball going down for hill. So she identified those three things, and she's aware of this.

Speaker 1:

For me, there's another one that I always am aware of, when it comes to meal planning and prepping as well, and that is timing is an issue for me, meaning my spouse and I like to eat at 5.30ish and so that we can let our digestion and we can wind down and get a good night's sleep, because we like to be in bed by 8.30, 9 o'clock because we're early risers and my husband gets up early. I get up early, I like to get up at 5., so we are up pretty early and so we like that wind down time. Not saying that we go to bed at that time. Sometimes I read in bed, sometimes I do meditation at that time, but being aware of that. So what are you?

Speaker 1:

I want you to think about your mealtimes as well and your awareness to that. Here's some questions that you might ask yourself so that you can identify what are your challenges at mealtime. Are you scrambling mid-afternoon asking what's for dinner? Have you not pulled something out of the freezer? Do you not have ingredients in your pantry or in your veggies or whatever it would be? What's the kitchen like when you're getting ready to make the meal? What's your loved one doing or needing at that time, or anybody else in your household at that time, and so you want to think about that and envision that. What's your energy and mood? I love that Maria recognized that she runs out of steam. What's your energy and mood? If you love to cook, maybe you have high energy, and so you find that as a way to fuel your body, and that's great, because then you can plan differently for mealtime.

Speaker 1:

For some of us, though, if you've been doing things for 10 straight hours now and all of a sudden you have to make a meal, that can be exhausting. Also, think about what happened during the day. Are you at doctor's appointments, have you had a busy day, has there been visitors in the house, or you have had in-home care? What's been going on? Because you may be exhausted from all of that, or things may be crazy. Things may be out of place, whatever it would be, so you want to be aware of of place, whatever it would be, so you want to be aware of what that is. You may like to cook, but when things are crazy busy, it may be hard to cook as well. Or the appointments ran late and you walk into the door at 4.30 and you have nothing ready. Another example would be, let's say, your husband or your loved one, no matter what it is, they had surgery that day and you're just making the assumption that you're going to be able to get them into a lazy boy, or you're going to get them into bed and they're going to sleep for hours, and you didn't expect them. You're not weighing into the fact that you may have to do things or you may have to go ahead and take care of their needs, and so you want to go ahead and think about maybe an easier meal that day, but you didn't really play it into that. We've all had situations. So let's share how I responded to Maria with my meal practices that I do.

Speaker 1:

Now that this is not a go-all, do-all thing. This is my practices that I've incorporated over the years. My thing is, if you have additional ones, please, please, please share them with me. Any additional shares I will add to my weekly email or newsletter this week. So you want to be on my email list to go ahead and get any extras that I get or any feedback that I get. So go out to my website at kathylvancom and that's C-A-T-H-Y-L-V-A-Ncom, and scroll down to the bottom, the very bottom, and it says I want to enroll in getting free emails from Kathy. So go ahead and do that.

Speaker 1:

So here are my four practices that I use and I do, and these have started with me way before caregiving. I use these as a busy working mom and I was tired of coming in at you know, working a nine to five job, coming in at supper time with three hungry boys and they're saying to me Mom, what's for supper? I'm hungry, I want to eat snacks, because I can't wait that kind of thing, and I was frantic trying to figure it all out and it got expensive when I didn't plan. And so I use some of the practices that I use back from there and I also have customized them to caregiving. So this is what I do, and the first one that I do is a meal planning. This seems really crazy. My kids still laugh at me to this day because you'll walk into my house and there's going to be a menu on the refrigerator.

Speaker 1:

What I do is like Saturday or Sunday, I look at what the week holds and I go ahead and saying, okay, you know, this week Dennis has treatment. On Thursday I have, you know, a podcast interview in the afternoon, and I go ahead and look at where the busy days are and I plan those differently than if I had more time. So you want to look at your calendar and I just do Sunday, monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday, whatever you want to do, and I go ahead. This is crazy too, because as a working mom and when my husband and I were younger, budgets were tight, and so I would go around first of all and look what I had in the freezer, refrigerator, pantry, and I would find that I had things to make a meal already, and so if I looked in my refrigerator right now, I have a small ham, I have chicken breasts in there, so I could go ahead and think about what could I make with that ham, what could I make with that chicken, and then I would go ahead and do that. And then when I go ahead and create this menu list, then the menu list dictates what I need to get for groceries.

Speaker 1:

It's been a habit I have used for 20 years, I think, and also I look at how busy of the day we have, because what meals take more time? Do I have a half hour before, do I have an hour before, or will I be under pressure? Can I throw something in a crock pot? And I also look at what days does Dennis have free, that I want him to go ahead and do the grilling for me so I might have, like the chicken breast, I can get him prepared and he can put them on the grill, whatever it would be. So menu planning is what I do and so I know there's apps out there, but I use the old school paper and pen and I post it with a magnet on my refrigerator. It's just what I do. Now, don't get me wrong, there's some nights where we might flip one around. But there's a purpose why I wrote it.

Speaker 1:

When my kids were little I would let them decide. They could pick one day and they could decide what they wanted for a meal. Like, one of my kids always liked tacos, so one it would be a taco day. One of my kids liked, you know, pasta and wanted the whole pasta meal with meatballs and salad and all that kind of stuff. So we did that and we would go ahead and reward them and they got to pick one meal. But mom pretty much picked a lot of the nutrition pieces, but they got to pick what they wanted.

Speaker 1:

Number two is meal prepping. Another way to save yourself time is have you thought about prepping in advance? Now, meal planning is planning in advance, but is there anything that you can do to cook things in advance? Now, meal planning is planning in advance, but is there anything that you can do to cook things in advance, to get things diced and sliced, because Maria doesn't wanna be dicing and slicing when she's out of energy and I'm thinking partially, that's a health, she's worried about cutting a finger or it's just extra work. But can you go ahead and streamline your evening or ensure the dinner is ready to go when you need it to go? There's nothing better than having things done in advance. Now I have done things that have been really fun where you have like a Sunday afternoon prepping session where I might cook chicken breast, I might cook you know different things in advance and freeze them, and so they're all ready to go. I've invited a friend over and we've had you know a cocktail and they visited me while I was prepping. So it was really fun.

Speaker 1:

I've also thought about in when I do my menu planning is I can cook meat, I can cook the meat for, like, the Monday night dinner. But why can't I cook the meat for the Tuesday night dinner, knowing that Tuesday we have to go ahead and we have a late afternoon appointment so we're not going to get into later, and so that meat is already done and I can go ahead? And just, we can go ahead and, you know, throw it in the microwave or we can heat it up just quickly and the meal's already done. Or, better yet, if I have extra chicken or if I have extra meat of any kind, I go ahead and use that for soup or a casserole and I make that for later in the week and I just take and dice up the meat and put it in the refrigerator and I know that I'm going to use that leftover stuff for the following day. So meal prepping is another thing. You can get creative with that.

Speaker 1:

I know people that will dice up all of their carrots so that they can go ahead as well. And when I was inviting my friend over, I was like, okay, I also have to think about, like my lunches, because you know I don't eat well for lunch and I want to have a salad or I want to have veggies cut up or I want to have. I was doing like ham roll-ups. So that I could do that. What could I go ahead and eat for lunch that I wouldn't have to do a lot of work. Now, don't get me wrong. I go buy the pre-packaged salads or the lettuce, the mixed kale and spinach and vegetables that way. But I do slice up my cucumbers and my carrots and my celery and I put them in my salad. But it's so great when those are diced up ahead of time and being able to do that. And so if I get to Monday and their carrots aren't diced up and I'm making a salad, I'm like, okay, I'm going to dice up another carrot, it's going to take me two more minutes and I'm going to go ahead and throw those in for tomorrow. So I have that ready for tomorrow. So prepping and trying to find a practice for you.

Speaker 1:

Number three is thinking about slow cooker meals or crock pot meals. I've never used an Instapot before, so that might be something that you do, but simply throwing in the ingredients in a crock pot in the morning is like life-saving, and then by dinnertime you have a delicious home-cooked meal waiting for you. I did that yesterday. Yesterday I threw in a roast and we were doing things around the house. I had to run errands and stuff like that, and then I made my salad for lunch and then I diced up the potatoes and the carrots and the vegetables and the meat was already cooking half the day and so then I threw in the other stuff in the pot and so by suppertime I had it done. But I used to have when the kids were little. I used to have this beef stew recipe. I know beef stew isn't the most best for your heart, should I say, but it was for the kids and I would go ahead and I would buy the stew meat already done, I would pour in the Lipton onion soup mix and I would pour in some low sodium gravy in there. I would let that cook most of the day and then I would throw in the frozen peas and the vegetables and all that kind of stuff. I would run home on my lunch and do that and then by the end of the day it would be all be ready because we had to go to soccer later and so they could have stew before or they could have stew after and it was already there. So there's lots If you Google crockpot meals or even if you start looking at TikTok videos of any kind, you're going to see people constantly cooking in crockpots and it is so empowering to look at that going.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to try that. That looks pretty good and it's one that you can go ahead and start rotating in. Maybe you do that one once a month or whatever it would be. So that's another one. So it's meal planning, meal prepping, crockpot meals, especially when you know it's a busy, busy day. Even when I was in Dennis's stem cell transplant, we were away from home. They had crockpots there and I would do that from a crockpot meal perspective. It was so super nice.

Speaker 1:

Number four, and this one I think you should consider as well, especially if you're in this really crazy busy season of caregiving, consider meal services for you. Meal delivery services, like fresh meals. You want to try some of these out to see. Now. Obviously they're more expensive, but these services provide preparation, pre-prepared meals, nutritious meals that require minimal effort on your part. It's a convenient option that can help alleviate stress of the meal planning and the preparation. Or, if you're like me that doesn't like to cook, it's all ready to go and you can go ahead and do this. So you want to consider this if something. The only thing that I want you to think about is do your research, because some of these meal services have high sodium or high fat. So you want to make sure that it's going to go ahead and be a healthy option for you, and you also want to look at your budget and seeing if you can go ahead and do this. But I like some of these, too, because it helps with breakfast and lunch so that you're not cooking three times a day if you're doing that for your loved one as well.

Speaker 1:

So also check locally. There is a person, a gal that I've met at a gym, that now owns a meal service business. It's mostly crock pot meals or Ziploc bag meals, but we can go ahead and purchase chicken breasts that are marinated and she has on the outside of the packaging how to cook it. It's so convenient and you can go ahead, and she has a quiz that you go ahead and identify. She delivers locally or you can pick them up. So, locally, there might be people that have meal services available to you. Check your grocery stores to see if their deli has anything that's available to you that might be nice. Once every other week you go ahead and pick up the chicken dinner there, whatever it would be as well. So I know that we have a local store that has a like a dinner bar where you could go ahead and pick up. You know, and you can. You have you when you're there. You have the option of looking at what's a healthy choice or not a healthy choice. So check those. Even in the freezer sections there might be healthy. I go to a fresh marketplace that has healthy choice options there, where they cook them in their deli and then they freeze them, and so sometimes I use that.

Speaker 1:

I also want you to be open, especially when you're in the challenging times of your life, to letting others help for your services, whether that be meals on wheels, whether that be neighbors or families that offer to help. You can say to them you know, we as women want to say nope, I don't need any help. You can say, you know, yeah, I do need help. There are days where we're in treatments or therapies all day long, and so having a home cooked meal is hard for me, and I have some friends that are terrible cooks. Julie, I love you dearly, but she's not. But she will bring over a meal, she'll go to a restaurant and get a meal and bring it over. Or I have friends that had a meal delivered to the boarding house that we were at for the stem cell transplant oh my gosh, what a great treat. Or have friends that will go ahead and drop off a pot of soup for us with some extras there that meant so much to us and you can say, yeah, I am looking for it. And if you remember some of my previous episodes, I talked about having this help list and having this list of things where people can help, and one of them is meals, because it gets to be hard, maria, you're doing it for 11 years, and so having a treat like that once in a while is a nice thing to have, and you can put it on your menu then and saying, okay, this is the date that so-and-so committed to it as well. And so those are my four. I know, like I said before, you may have some others.

Speaker 1:

So before we wrap up this lesson today of what's for dinner, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Maria for sending in that question and sharing her journey and prompting this important conversation. Maria, you're resilient and your dedication to your husband is so truly inspiring, and I'm grateful for your openness and discussing your challenge with us, and remember you're not alone in this journey, and by you sharing with others, we're hoping that everybody listening. I want you to know that we're all in this together, whether we're in this tough season or in this quieter season. We all experience it as we navigate the complexities of caregiving. Let's take Maria's question what's for dinner as a starting point to explore practical solutions and support one another, no matter if it's meal planning or meal prepping or seeking assistance for meal deliveries, or it's something else like laundry, or it's having a day off. There are countless ways to lighten our load and prioritize our own well-being, and you can use this awareness step and then thinking about options to go ahead in any challenging situation.

Speaker 1:

I want to encourage you to share your own tips and experiences, especially with meal planning routines. Together, we can build a community of support and empowerment. Don't forget to join our email list. Send me your tips and what you have done. Maybe you have a recipe, maybe you have a different way of doing it, and I wanna share that in our weekly email this week. Or, if you're not listening to it exactly at this time, share it with me anytime because I can go ahead and collect those and add those as well. Until next time, my friend, remember to take care of yourself as you care for others, sending you all the strength, resilience and moments of joy in your caregiving journey. Thank you for tuning in and I'll see you next week. And, by the way, what's for dinner? Bye for now.

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