An estimated 5.3 million men, women, and children are living with a permanent brain injury-related disability in the United States today. These disabilities are diverse and differ from person to person but could include cognitive, emotional, sensory, and motor impairments. This can make the daily tasks such as making a snack or meal more difficult or daunting. This multi-step task requires a significant amount of planning and organization. Here are a few tips that may help ease the process of getting food on the table: meal prepping, navigating the grocery store, kitchen safety, and staying organized while making the recipe.
1. Do what works for you!
- You can make meal prepping look however you want it to look. That could mean just chopping and washing ingredients to grab when you want to make the meal, it could mean making a lot of meals in a day to have available for the week, or it could mean making meals and freezing them for a rainy day.
2. Start small.
- Creating a meal plan and prepping for that meal is an overwhelming task. Start with small goals, this might mean preparing one meal a week or just planning out healthy grab & go snacks.
3. Create a routine.
- Allocate time to plan recipes, go shopping, and make food. Stick to this routine each week so it can become a habit of your daily life. Use timers or written reminders to help create this new routine.
4. Use your resources when choosing meals.
- There are so many great online resources to help you choose what to eat. Planning a head can help you stick to your budget and health goals. If necessary, set a time limit when exploring new recipes online. Try not to overwhelm yourself with options and do what works best for you.
5. Ask for help.
- Work with a partner, caregiver, or friend to help you prep meals or to take away distractions while meal prepping. Your care-partner can help you stay on task and ensure food prep is a safe and fun experience.
6. Find recipes with limited ingredients.
- Find recipes that are shorter with few instructions to build confidence and avoid feeling less overwhelmed. You and your care partner can work together to adapt recipes by limiting ingredients to an amount you are comfortable working with.
7. Have a calendar to write what meals you’re going to eat for the day or week.
- In general, setting a goal in writing will make you more likely to accomplish that goal. Give yourself some flexibility. For example, breakfast could be cereal or oatmeal. Lunch, a sandwich or a wrap. Dinner, out to eat or tacos. A calendar may also be a good reminder of when to eat if you sometimes forget.
8. Have a place to store old recipes that you enjoy.
- Having a few recipes that are familiar to you and you know you like can make meal prepping easier and more efficient. You can store paper recipes in a binder/notebook or in a folder on the computer.
9. Jot down a few notes about a new recipe to jog your memory for later.
- Take a few notes about a recipe so that you can remember what you liked or didn’t like about the recipe. Some things I would consider noting: Did it taste good? Did you add any extra ingredients? Did you take out any ingredients? How long did it take you to make? Did you have to cook it for longer/shorter?
10. Plan for leftovers.
- The best part about cooking your own meals is that there is usually food leftover. You could even double the recipe to ensure there will be leftovers. Plan a day or two of the week to eat leftovers or use your leftovers for lunch.