The submissions seem to have dried up somewhat. Anyone out there feel like writing anything?
sparklyeevee asked: In case I did not already successfully communicate this, I will take care of this blog if you still need someone.
I’m feeling more able to cope with being around on tumblr for now, but thank you all.
I think I would still like to have someone to help. I don’t know anyone really though, and I’m kind of full of trust issues. Can people, like give me some introductions to themselves, privately if they prefer, please?
Again, thank you everyone who responded, it helped a lot to see them when I was being faced with being told how crap I was by gimpunk.
It feels like this is a useful thing, and could be useful, but submissions have dried up and I’m going to be walking away from tumblr for quite some time. At the moment my account is the only one on it, so otherwise it’s going to just disappear.
While this tip doesn’t deal directly with a particular type or brand of food, I thought it’d be worth mentioning anyway, given the number of people who are on a fairly tight budget due to being unable to work. Not all of us can afford to buy the brands we might like the best, or the ones that are the easiest to make, especially since pre-cooked meals tend to be significantly more expensive than raw ingredients. But by taking advantage of discount outlets and/or dollar stores, you can fill in some of the gaps - you can’t always rely on finding a particular item more than once, but it’s a great way to try a new brand or product to see if it works for you.
Some of the things I’ve found at my local 99-cent store:
- pre-seasoned Green Giant brand steam-in-the-bag veggie side dishes (I recommend the skin-on red potatoes with sugar snap peas and red bell peppers)
- 4- and 6-packs of Jello-brand pudding
- 4- and 6-packs of yogurt (from brands like Yoplait) as well as individual yogurt cups (three for a dollar); sometimes I even find Greek yogurt, or yogurt with fiber
- Hot Pocket Snackers (which are basically bite-sized Hot Pockets - not the healthiest option, but they’re fast and easy)
- Cinnabon microwave pancakes
- various name-brand canned soups, chips/snacks, etc.
- name-brand bottled/canned coffee, juice, and soda
- Pedialyte-brand freezer pops (nice to have around for when you’re sick)
Outlet stores are also a fantastic place to find dry and canned goods. At the one I go to, I’ve even found specialty grains and flour, which is awesome, since my girlfriend’s son is on a gluten/soy/dairy-free diet, and the stuff he can have is usually ridiculously expensive. (As far as dry goods go, I recommend grits - a batch of grits takes about five minutes to prepare and only involves boiling and seasoning, and it’s basically just coarsely-ground cornmeal plus whatever you choose to add.)
Obviously you’ll want to check the expiration dates on things and avoid brands you don’t know (especially if you have texture issues or food allergies). On the plus side, a lot of freezer meals and instant dishes will keep just fine for a while after their sell-by date, so just because something is getting close to its sell-by date doesn’t mean it’s bad. The one problem I have had with outlet stores is that, because they buy bulk lots from other chains, sometimes they’ll accidentally put items on their shelves that need refrigeration, and you have to watch for that. (My mom once bought a cake, thinking it was a mix, and when we opened it, we discovered that it was a pre-made cake from the frozen section that had melted all over the place.) On the other hand, dollar stores will sometimes get test-runs of new products (or new flavors of existing products) before the regular grocery stores do, and then it can be a pain in the butt trying to find that particular item once the dollar store’s stock is all gone.
My point is, don’t discount your dollar store as a place to shop for food items.
These things have been a pantry staple in our household for years. They’re easy, delicious, and affordable.
You can stock up on them without worrying that they’ll spoil before you can use them all, because the use-by date is 2-3 years after production, and they’re usually fine for up to a year or two after the stamped use-by date, too. You’ll be able to tell if a package has spoiled without having to open it, though, because it will have swelled up (the pouches are designed to contain the gaseous products of decomposition without bursting, up to probably three or four times the volume of the contents at production time).
How simple are they to prepare? The packaging is a vacuum-sealed foil pouch with a notched, easy-to-tear-open (for people with moderately-impaired grip strength and/or moderately-impaired fine-motor ability; gripping/pulling with teeth, or cutting open with scissors, will also work) area at the top of the pouch. To heat them up, you can either open the pouch and pour the contents into a bowl to microwave them, or submerge the intact pouch in boiling water for a few minutes. Anecdotally, I’ve read that some strangers on the internet open the pouches and heat the contents in a saucepan; that would avoid the difficulty of opening the pouch when it’s hot from immersion heating, but would also mean the pan would need to be washed.
Because they’re fully-cooked, though, these curries can be eaten at room temperature, even directly out of the pouch with a long-enough utensil, which makes them ideal for emergency situations when power may be out. I find them palatable enough at room temperature, but some people with texture issues may not be able to eat them below certain temperatures depending on milkfat content or other factors.
All of the entrees are vegetarian, and many but not all are vegan. Some varieties contain nuts, seeds and/or seed oils not mentioned in the name of the curry, and some contain wheat and/or soy products, so check ingredients lists carefully if you have sensitivities to any of those foods. For those avoiding dairy products, be aware that “ghee” is clarified butter.
For readers unfamiliar with paneer, sometimes spelled panir, this is often translated misleadingly into English as cottage cheese, but it nothing like American cottage cheese. It’s made by a process similar to ricotta cheese, then drained of its whey, and usually cut into bite-sized square slices which resemble firm tofu (in appearance and texture) more than any kind of cheese.
The brand name we (teland.tumblr.com & I) usually buy is Kohinoor. Kohinoor’s website at http://www.kohinoorfoods.co.uk/products.asp?id=4 displays (some of) the varieties they sell. That link goes to the UK site but the same product, in slightly different-looking packaging, is also available in the States; in the northeast US, at least, they’re pretty much always available at Ocean State Job Lot, a chain discount store, for US$2 each. Sometimes regular grocery stores will carry one to three varieties (of Kohinoor or another brand) but they’re usually at least US$3 there, and sometimes significantly more.
Some manufacturers sell their heat-and-eat curries online, while others do not, but there are also numerous online retailers, in many countries, who carry one or more brands that can be shipped to your home.
Some other brands we have tried and liked include:
contact info for international distributors, which can probably help shoppers interesting in locating a retailer near them, anywhere from Bahrain to New Zealand.
TastyBite (can be purchased directly from their website)
• entrees http://shop.tastybite.com/Entres/c/TastyBite@Entrees
• rice varieties http://shop.tastybite.com/Rices/c/TastyBite@Rices
• these things http://shop.tastybite.com/Meal-Inspirations/c/TastyBite@MealInspirations
Amazon.com sells a bunch of brands and varieties of ready-to-eat curries, including a few brands we haven’t tried yet (specifically, Ashoka, Haldirams, and SWAD). If you’re in the US, click here to see search results for “ready to eat Indian food” in the Grocery & Gourmet Food department. For people in the UK, Canada or elsewhere, there may or may not be a similar range of shelf-stable entrees available via your country’s or region’s Amazon site.
Sometimes certain curries are available in a combo-pack that includes heat-and-eat basmati rice. Packages of both unseasoned and seasoned rice are also available. If you’re ordering online and shipping costs are an issue, obviously you’re better off cooking a big batch of rice at home and refrigerating or freezing meal-sized portions (or buying heat-and-eat shelf-stable or frozen rice from a store in your area). An important consideration with the combo-packs is how they’re packaged; some just have a second foil pouch filled with rice along with the pouch of curry inside the box, but often the curry and rice are in separate divisions of a microwaveable plastic tray sealed with plastic film, and the latter kind can be challenging to open even for people without grip-strength or dexterity issues. In our experience, the tray-packaged combos also aren’t as high-quality as the versions in the foil pouches, even within the same brand.
Note that almost all of these shelf-stable Indian dishes are spicy. Spiciness is so subjective, it’s always hard to know how someone else’s palate will react, especially because different people have varying tolerance for different kinds of ‘hot’ — chili pepper vs. peppercorn vs. cumin vs. mustard vs. horseradish vs. ginger etc., plus differences in preparation.
In our experience, the five least-spicy curries are the Methi Mutter Malai, the Paneer Butter Masala, the Mutter Paneer, the Dal Tadka, and the Dal Palak. The Biryani and Pulao varieties, which are seasoned rice rather than dishes to serve with or over rice, aren’t spicy at all.
Adding some plain yogurt (or raita, if you have it, though since we’re talking about least-spoons-available times, most likely you won’t) to any of these curries will help mitigate how ‘hot’ they are without — to our taste — rendering the meal too bland. There’s one curry called Kadhi Pakora (sometimes spelled Khadi Pakoda) that we always add yogurt to, even though it’s already in a yogurt-based sauce, because otherwise it’s too spicy for us.
One last note concerns the spellings of the various curry recipe names. These are always either transliterated or translated into English from Hindi or another language of south Asia that has its own alphabet, so neither translations nor transliterations are always consistent. I already mentioned the differing spellings and very bad standard translation of paneer, the homemade-style fresh cheese. Here are some more examples:
- aloo, meaning potato, may be spelled alu;
- dal, meaning lentils, may be spelled dahl;
- mutter, meaning green peas, may be spelled muttar, mattar, or matar;
- references to “gram” flour or “grams” (as an ingredient) mean dried beans, ones that have been ground in the case of flour;
- the presence of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) may be indicated with channa / chana or cholle / chole / choley;
- both palak and saag are often translated as spinach but (as I understand it) saag is a more-general term for the green leafy vegetable part of a plant that’s also eaten other ways, as in the dish called sarson ka saag which is supposed to be made with mustard (sarson) greens… but is sometimes made with spinach instead;
- pulao, a term referring to rice that is cooked together with seasonings and fruits, nuts and/or vegetables — rather than being a saucy dish to serve over rice — may be spelled pilao or pulav;
- korma refers to a cooking method, specifically that of braising vegetables and/or meat for a long time over low heat, and may also be spelled qorma, khorma, or kurma;
- navaratan (meaning nine jewels) may be spelled navratan or even navaratna, and, since the “nine jewels” refers to which nine vegetables, fruits and/or nuts are included in the dish, and the ingredients chosen can vary widely in different parts of India (and even at different times of year), this term is definitely a sign ingredients lists should be checked carefully;
- aspirated consonants’ extra ‘h’ may move around the word, commonly seen with bhindi/bindhi, ghobi/gobhi, khadi/kadhi, etc.
- some brands may label a curry by the city or region where it originated, for example Agra, Hyderabadi, Madras, Peshawar(i) or Punjab(i), while other brands omit that information, and, absent familiarity with Indian geography, it may not be obvious whether a word refers to an ingredient or a location;
- just when you’ve learned the native names for your favorite curries, some brand may start labeling its products fully translated, for example Peas & Mushroom Curry instead of Khumb Mattar (or Kumbh Mutter)…
We hope this helps others in search of meal solutions for when very few spoons are available! Impairment-wise, I have MS-related limb weakness and poor grip strength, the extents of which vary depending on where I am in my relapse-remission cycle, and Te (teland.tumblr.com) has lingering post-stroke grip strength and fine-motor issues, along with some texture intolerance for certain types of food. Neither of us can stand to cook for long, either, in her case due mainly to arthritis and in mine due mainly to POTS/NMH. We both also have fibromyalgia; the chronic pain it causes sucks up spoons, but many FMS symptoms improve with higher protein and fatty-acids intake, both of which are frequent nutritional features of the shelf-stable curries, and of course the endorphin release associated with spicy foods provides some pain relief as well.
*I didn’t want to make this post even longer than it already is, but if there is interest and need, Te and I would be happy to transcribe the information at the MTR site (or any other site with info about and/or selling direct-to-customers any of these shelf-stable curries) that’s not navigable for anyone, and put it in a separate post.
Granted this is for U.S. people, but the following TV dinners are usually pretty healthy in regards to nutrition: Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, Kashi, Amy’s, Weight Watchers. They are not the gold star of nutrition, but in the eating vs. not eating they are far superior to other things.
TV dinners are usually good at meeting the carb/protein component of life, but aren’t usually stellar at meeting the veggie requirement. So if you’re able, after you’ve nuked your dinner, nuke a steam-bag of veggies to go with it.
For Mac and Cheese people, remember, you can add frozen peas in there (or nuke separately and add), as well as pre-diced meats/tofu, etc.
(Note from editor - has anyone else noticed the trend into fat phobia in this kind of thing, just look at the names the manufacturers pick. Though on the other hand, when it comes to a choice between eating and not …)
Tombstone sells these individual deep dish pizzas that are microwave friendly, about $7 for a bag of 6. They come really close to replicating the satisfying taste and feel of a pizza from Pizza Hut, with seconds of work and very little clean up. It’s a great combination of comfort and convenience.
(Note from editor - You can get similar mini pizzas called Chicago Town in the UK, though I’m not entirely sure I’d call them great, for three minutes they can be a huge help. Also, watch out for pizzadermatitis)
Anyone want to make submissions on food they eat when out of spoons? Anything you feel like sharing that’s easy to make when you’re feeling awful but need to eat?
You can buy frozen bags of steam vegetables and/or rice to go in a microwaves. They’re in sealed bags so they pressurise to capture the steam and increase the pressure to cook it faster, and a little water so there’s hardly anything to drain off if anything. It steams the vegetables without having to spend the time getting out, setting up, then breaking down and washing a steamer.
This doesn’t make a meal in itself, but it adds a good source of vitamins in a diet with very little spoons.
My personal favourite with this is a bag of steamed veg and wild rice, and a little pot of flavoured quorn bites that I could also heat up for 60 seconds in a microwave. A whole meal in less than five minutes.
I’ve mostly copied this from Lum, so they get credit for this :)
Buy the cheapest, nastiest, instant ramen you can find. We get the “Tesco Value Curry Flavour Instant Noodles”. They cost 11p. Also buy some little sachets of miso paste. Again Tesco do Yutaka brand ones, for about 60p for 5. We normally buy 5 packets of noodles and 2 5-packs of Miso. People in other countries should hopefully be able to pick up similar items.
Open the instant ramen, throw away the flavour sachet as it will taste awful. Make the noodles according to the instructions provided, usually just add boiling water and leave for a bit until it’s not boiling hot. Some need microwaving too, so check the instructions at the time of purchase if this is likely to be an issue. Even if they say they need microwaving, letting them sit in recently boiled water for several minutes will work anyway, so you can feel free to experiment and see what is easiest.
Personally I find microwaves start to get harder again when I’m really bad, because I find it hard to grip things and burning and scalding start to become a risk. Though the same can be said for picking up a kettle of boiling water!
Allow them to cool - if the water is too hot it will destroy the wonderful proteins in the miso. If you’re using a microwave, make sure you put miso in after you microwave it since boiling them in a microwave will also break up the proteins, they’re really fragile. Once they’ve cooled down, open and squirt in one or two packets of miso paste, or whatever quantity you find works for you, stir to dissolve the paste and eat.
It tastes lovely, it costs about 40p and is fairly easy to make when low on spoons. Something which may help for some people would be a kettle-cradle so you can pour the water out of the kettle without having picked it up and risking scalding yourself. Also, if you choose to use a microwave remember the over gloves.
I’ve not had any submissions yet, so I thought I’d write a little something to start things off.
The microwave, and thus ready-meals from the supermarket, are pretty much the mainstay of what I survive on. There’s a lot of talk about ready-meals being bad for you, it’s not real food, they’re so fattening or there’s too much salt in them.
That’s all very nice, but if you have a choice between not eating, and eating something I put in the microwave for five minutes, I know which one I’m going to pick.
Having said this, there are starting to be more healthier options available. I like Quorn’s range of meals for example, and Quorn lasts for an epicly long time in the fridge - it’s made from a fungus, it doesn’t go off! Tesco and Innocent both make ranges of “veg pots” that will give you a good dose of moderately fresh vegetables assuming you can get the lids off! They are not friendly for those with reduced strength or dexterity. If people outside of the UK have or find similar things that work, please share them with us via submit or ask boxes.
Microwaves let you cook things in large batches when you do have the spoons, and store them frozen for later. Usually it’s a case of heating it for a couple of minutes, stirring, and heating for a few more minutes. If stirring is an issue, you don’t even necessarily need to do that - you can get microwaveable containers that are suitable for freezing/microwaving/eating, so just give it a shake around to mix up and then dig straight in when it’s hot.
For me, the biggest advantage of putting things in the microwave is that the containers are typically made of plastic and cardboard, and thus do not hold or conduct the heat from the cooking/heating process. This means I can eat it straight out of the container, if I put something on my lap to steady it and eat it with one hand, and yet not risk burning myself horribly. In fact, if you place something in front of the microwave to carry it, you need not even expose yourself to a hot surface.
A few caveats though - processed foods do tend to contain more chemicals, this is likely to cause you issues if you have chemical sensitivities. Steam! Microwaves cook and heat things by heating the water in them rather than the thing itself, that means they always produce steam, so be careful. Speaking of which, be careful with chicken, as it’s not known for it’s water content so has to be heated by the stuff surrounding it in order to get to the point where bacteria are killed off.
Do good stuff with microwaves, my spoonies.
Coping with a restricted cutlery drawer makes a lot of things hard and “interesting” in life. One of those is eating.
Hopefully we can use this blog to do something about that.
I’m going to post things here that I find work, and I’d encourage anyone who finds something which works for them to send it to me, in the hope that it will work for others too.