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Have any tips for healthy eating at home?

Have any tips for healthy eating at home?

Read and share healthy tips and recipes in the comments below!

My partner and I have been having a tough summer as far as our respective health situations go.  His back pain and problems have returned with a vengeance, worse than ever before, and I have been achy and sore most days and have had more migraine episodes than I care to deal with.  We both know that eating healthily and getting sufficient rest and regular exercise will do us good, and we’re trying—I promise.

But it’s hard to get back into a positive routine when you are starting from a place where you feel so beat down.

The good news is we are buying really healthy (mostly local!) produce and groceries and have been making yummy meals at home.  The bad news is we have limited budgets each time we shop in addition to very limited time in which to prepare our food. This results in our running out of groceries with very little opportunity to shop while we’re off work AND feeling up to it.

Dining out and food delivery, anyone?

I would be lying if I were to say I don’t enjoy going out to eat or having delicious restaurant food delivered to me.  Happily, we have amazing restaurants in Athens, many of which have plenty of meals that fit within our diets.  But dining out costs money; delivery can cost even more.

Between my jobs and my health, I am consistently presented with this problem:  how do I find enough money to have ingredients and fresh produce at the ready, and how do I find enough time to prepare these meals?  My inclination is to formulate a plan in which I spend Sunday afternoons preparing food for the week, but at age 33, such a thing has never come close to happening, so I need to find another plan I can enact more easily.

What do you do to make sure you and your family have ingredients on hand and healthy meals ready to be made? Help me and the other busy migraineurs get into a better routine by sharing your comments below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Mr FBP
    5 years ago

    First a comment on allergy vs auto immune. It’s thought that allergies are an over reaction by the body to a perceived threat, so my son’s body will swell up in response to certain nuts, constricitng his airflow, even though the nut isn’t a real threat. For this reason there is a good chance that allergies may eventually clear up, but no certain proven methods yet to make this happen. Auto-immune disorders, I’m specifically talking about Coeliac disease, do damage the body. My daughter is coeliac, diagnosis was confirmed by an endoscopy that showed that gluten had striped away the lining of her intestines, meaning she couldn’t absorb nutrients properly. It only took 4 years to diagnose that ! So from age 4 to 8 she wasn’t growing properly.

    Not sure where food intolerances lie in all this, but my wife and youngest daughter appear to be gluten intolerant, not coeliac.

    It is a nightmare getting ingredients that are both gluten free and nut free. I’m in the UK, so many of your sources won’t suit me (just to save you the effort, I know people on this site are really helpful with this kind of thing). But, for example, the most widely available gluten free oats we found that were nut free changed their processes a year ago, so no longer nut free now I travel out of town to a health food store to get them.

    Generally we cook a lot more – Sunday roast with leftovers for Monday. Like 1artsyckick, we do double batches of everything else, so that the freezer stays stocked. Cold rice and pasta kept for packed lunches. GF bread costs a fortune, but fortunately in the UK a Coeliac child can get a certain amount on free medical prescription. Gluten intolerant people can’t get this though.

    Home baked cakes and cookies, and home made ice cream are staples in our house, fortunately the children are enthusiastic about helping out. Lots of people think that a gluten free diet is good simply because you have to cut out many processed foods, and that has more health benefits than the fact it’s gluten free. We don’t feel the need to add trans fats and preservatives to our brownies as we don’t think they need a shelf life of six months+.

    We also have a local fish and chip shop (British thing) that does GF fish and chips once a week, so that is a treat for the days when we are both exhausted and have just been paid – but that is also a fair drive away from home.

    And – you’ll scream in horror at this – one of the few places we can get a GF, nut free take out is McDonalds – if we provide our own bread rolls. Always the best solution if we are holiday and looking for somewhere to eat on route.

  • 1artsychick
    6 years ago

    We love the slow cooker, we have a few of them so we can cook more than one thing at a time.
    I’ve tried the batch cooking like you mentioned, but I can’t cook for a whole day either. However, if we have chicken breast one night and plan to have chicken later in the week…like shredded chicken for tacos, or chicken for salads..ect. Then we will cook all the chicken at once. We often “roast” a chicken in the crock pot and have 2-3 meals off of it.
    Same with other meats, we’ll double the batches then have more for later in the week. Or we’ll freeze some cooked breast or hamburger meat, then we have a fast start on a meal. When we make a big pot of stew, soup, spaghetti sauce (I have to be careful about not having too many tomatoes though, however, if I add some baking soda it helps reduce the acid and my migraine trigger) We will freeze the left overs for a future night. Right now we have Chicken Noodle Soup in the freezer (we freeze it without the noodles and add them when we go to eat it), Chili, and beef stew.

    We also often roast up a bunch of veggies at the beginning of the week, then just pop them in the oven for a little bit to crisp them up when we want them, I often just eat them cold out of the fridge.

    I can’t have gluten and I’m allergic to wheat. I have to watch my fructose content as I have fructose malabsorption, and I have chronic acid reflux (GERD)…so eating has to be thought about. Also, many days I’m so dizzy or in so much pain, I can’t think of cooking, and hubby works hard and takes care of me…so thinking ahead helps.

    We do try to eat SOLE food. Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical. Sometimes we can’t eat totally that way due to finances, but we usually try to take money away from a different place so we feel good about what we put in our bodies.

    Hope this helps, I know I’ve repeated some of what others have said, but maybe there is some new info here.

  • Andrew Mestern
    6 years ago

    I am lucky enough to live in the heart of farmland, and rely on my local farm markets. I even have a butcher who does lunch meats without nitrates and low salt. This is mentioned below as well, slow cookers are the best. A little bit of time in the morning and then there is always a hot meal waiting for you at home at night.
    I have been expirimenting with leaving the meat and carbs out of the cooker and serve them seperately.For example I did a gumbo in the cooker all the tradional ingrediants, once I got home I did shrimp and garlic in a small wok, microwaved some red baby potatoes, then carmelized them in olive oil in the wok. All that took 10 mins, then served it all up with the gumbo.

  • AudreyB
    6 years ago

    Here are my methods. I avoid all carbs (especially sugar an wheat) as it seems to help. I also avoid anything in a package. That leaves fresh veggies and meat.

    Emergency meals: I keep celery from the big-box store on hand. It’s great with tuna salad on those nights when neither one of us can face cooking. Other alternatives to frozen pizza or eating out are a rotisserie chicken plus salad/veggie or scrambled eggs. We keep a package of frozen salmon burgers or sirloin burgers on hand as well. Frozen edamame rounds out the meal.

    Each week I make a trip to the store to pick up fresh produce. Usually I can find things that’ll last the week. Cauliflower and broccoli seem to last well, as do carrots and celery.

    We streamlined the prep of meat when we bought one of those counter-top grills. It’s like a George Foreman grill but I think is from Cuisinart. A small pork tenderloin cooks in minutes. Chicken breasts are done in half the time. I highly recommend getting one. Then all we need to do is sauté or steam some veggies or toss a salad.

    For breakfast, hubby cooks eggs, but I rely on cottage cheese and frozen berries. I buy the super-large containers of cottage cheese at a big-box store and keep 2-3 bags of the fruit on hand. I occasionally sneak in a bowl of cereal for old times’ sake.

    Eating this way has actually been much less time consuming than I imagined it would be.

  • Debbie Wilcox
    6 years ago

    mSG is a big trigger when I change my diet I did a lot better I wake up sometimes with migraines they go away after I get up and go throughout my morning there are cook books for people with migraines I’ve made some of the recipes and they were good and I did not get migraines hope this helps

  • laurawestkong
    6 years ago

    I try to buy as much local/organic produce as possible.
    1. Local lasts longer. Picked that morning as opposed to having to travel across the country/globe.
    2. Local tastes better. Doesn’t need to be picked so green, ripened artificially, etc.
    3. Organic = less toxic load for your body to deal with.
    4. Organic is often more nutritious than conventional. Many antioxidants occur in a plant as natural defenses against pests, and with pesticide use there is no need for those antioxidants to develop. Also conventional fertilizers can inhibit the production of important minerals in fresh produce.

    I eat gluten-free (gluten is my worst migraine trigger) and my family does not so everything I prepare has to be simple since I have to make two different menus. If I eat breakfast at all (long morning fasts surprisingly don’t cause headaches for me) it is a green smoothie made with organic leafy greens, various fruits, other veggies like celery or fennel, hemp seeds and coconut milk. A salad and a plate of stir-fried veggies (vary the salad dressings and sauces for variety) usually round out the remaining meals for me, sometimes with beans/legumes, sometimes with organic/pastured eggs, meat or wild fish.

    Nuts, raisins, or dark chocolate for snacks. I avoid grains, starchy foods, and dairy–they tend to hurt my stomach. Occasionally I do indulge in a brown rice or quinoa pasta. Sometimes I’ll make homemade pancakes or baked goods like muffins. I like being able to control each ingredient that goes into it. I stick to whole foods and minimally processed products, try to eat a lot of raw food. Leftovers and my Blendtec are my two best friends because there are not always enough hours in my day to cook/prepare meals from scratch.

    It works out well most of the time, but occasionally I’ll find myself with nothing to prepare an actual meal with, not enough time to fix a meal with the raw ingredients on hand, or just too exhausted to even try. Then I go for Indian takeout, an extra hearty smoothie, or make a meal out of a handful of nuts and a fruit salad. The better quality food I eat, the better I feel. SAD (standard American diet) tends to bring on not only migraines for me, but also arthritis, fatigue, and other autoimmune problems. Strong motivation for eating right.

  • Nilofer
    6 years ago

    I found going gluten-free, dairy-free immensely helpful. I stay away from gf breads because they are expensive – instead, for convenience, I buy the boil-in-a-bag rice so that I can quickly make rice for breakfast. This is useful if I don’t have any pre-made, organic rice in the fridge. Yes, nutritionally, organic and conventional foods are on par but the pesticides are NOT. Potatoes are gluten-free and cheap as well. I sometimes buy the small ones and boil quickly for my starch.

  • arden
    6 years ago

    Now that the children are gone and we are over the hill, mate and I find nothing wrong with no cooking at all for a meal. That is, snacking. We do very well with fruit and some cheese or crackers and cheese, some veggie dips are nice etc. Cold potato salad with hard boiled eggs – fine meal.Just have good snack food on hand and cold cereal.

    One other thing, don’t be suckered into buying expensive “organic” food. There is no scientific evidence that proves commercially grown organic is better nutritionally or has less bad stuff. If you buy from local farmers to support your community,great. But you will pay for it.No one ever said it helped with migraines (yet).

  • Nicole Cipponeri
    6 years ago

    I have chronic migraines. I have found that I can not have dairy. It is a huge trigger for me. No cheese, milk, sour cream or cream. My doctor now wants me to cut out gluten. I have five in my family to feed with all different appetites. The best trick I have found is to make a meal chart for the week. Pull out your meat in the morning or the night before to defrost in the fried. Add your marinade right away that was as it is defrosting it is marinating. I usually wash and cut up my veggies when I get home from the fruit market because then I can just grab and go. You can find a ton of recipes that pop up on facebook. I make smoothies every morning. I have a ninja blender which has the cup attachment. It is super easy to use and I add protein. I love arbornnes protein shake because it has no whey in it. I make up my own trail mix for snacks and usually have salads. I find that even though I have migraines or even headaches…walking in the morning sometimes helps. It is the only exercise that doesn’t trigger a headache, provided I wear sunglasses. I buy bulk chicken or meat and portion out what I need for meals. I always allow one day a week for takeout when I don’t feel good. Set a budge for going out to eat. There is always pbj and chicken broth and noodles when you don’t feel good. The more fresh fruit and veggies you eat the better you will feel. Have your significant other try pure cherry concentrate for aches and pains it is a natural anti-inflammatory. Thanks for your blog. I can really identify with your posts!

  • 1artsychick
    6 years ago

    Celiac is an auto-immune disease. However, you can be gluten intolerant and have no tests that will show that. If you happen to be Celiac, it is vital that you go on a Gluten Free diet.
    I was tested for Celiac with a blood test twice, once it said positive, once it said negative. (it’s possible the second was wrong because I had stopped eating gluten)
    I am allergic to wheat! That’s why I stopped eating gluten all together, I felt so much better without wheat, I wondered if all gluten out would help…and boy has it. Since I had stopped eating gluten the colonoscopy didn’t show up positive either…so I don’t know if I have it, but I know it sure does bother me.
    I think…it doesn’t hurt to try going without it and see if it helps. Just a couple of weeks and you will know, I’m sure. I would stick to things that are naturally gluten free…meat, veggies, potatoes, rice…be careful with oats they are often contaminated in the field. You never know, if it doesn’t help. you can always go back to eating it. (I don’t buy GF products so they aren’t making big bucks off of me. Except my special flours, I guess, but I do very little baking) and I don’t feel deprived. I know many who would have a VERY hard time with this diet, but it hasn’t been hard for me. But even a crumb makes me sick.
    I also have fructose malabsorption…diagnosed by a hydrogen breath test, now that is a hard diet to get used to.

  • Nilofer
    6 years ago

    Celiac and other forms of gluten sensitivity are auto-immune diseases, not simply “allergies”. The body makes antibodies against gluten and then makes antibodies against its own tissues that “look like” gluten. I believe that a test is coming out soon by Cyrex labs which can detect antibodies against neural tissue.

  • arden
    6 years ago

    Have you had a reliable test for gluten sensitivity? This seems to be the latest fad that everybody has and producers are cleaning up with “gluten free” products. Even if a doctor told you so, I would ask for the allergy test to determine if you really are allergic. It will save you lots of bother searching for gluten free food. Wheat, after all, is the staff of life.A pity to deprive yourself if its not really a proven issue.

  • Tina Harmon
    6 years ago

    I buy alot of frozen veggies and fruits to keep on hand when I don’t have time or desire to go to the store. Cooking grains (farro, quinoa, barley) and freezing them is also a time saver. You can throw them in soups, make salads etc. Slow cookers are great too.

    I’m not sure they are local to Athens but you can also check out Good Measure Meals or Dinner A’fare for meals.

  • julie
    6 years ago

    I like to grill whole chickens or bake them in the oven with 1/2 of an onion and 1/2 of a lemon inside to keep the white meat from drying out. We mostly use the dark meat without the skin for dinner. For the second meal the next night I take all the chicken off the bone for a casserole with frozen veg and maybe some type of pasta and healthy recipe soup for dinner. Sometimes on a Sunday I do a tomato sauce that is seasoned with thyme, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and cooked for a couple of hours and can be cooled and frozen flat into a couple lg 1 gallon freezer bags for a quick dinner with sausages or pasta or combination. Canned chicken is a life saver. Quick and healthy is 10oz block of frozen spinach seasoned with a 4-6 oz piece of salmon seasoned on top of it baked at 350 for 5 min. While it is in oven, chop onion and tomatoes, add dried basil and oregano and mix well. Place mixture on top of salmon after turning it over on spinach and bake until spinach is done. That is you meal. Also like Uncle Ben’s 90 second brown rice as a starch. I like frozen vegs rather than the canned if I cannot get the fresh. Kale is a good buy and is easy to clean. Take the ribs out after you clean it, cut into smaller pieces, sauté in olive oil some onion and garlic, add your kale and when it begins to wilt add some chicken stock and reduce. Full of vitamins and is a great side dish. Hope this helps.

  • Ashley
    6 years ago

    I am in between episodic and chronic migraines at the moment. I struggle to work out regularly so I have turned to a nutrition expert I know who sets a plan for me to follow daily. And there is a whole list of foods i can “sub out” if I get bored. The need for this type of service may not work for everyone but it has helped me to lose weight and equally important, save time by preparing most my meals in advance. If anyone wants his info, I’m happy to pass it along. Just to give you an example some of my favorite carbs are brown rice and boiled potatos which I can easily make a batch on a lazy Sunday afternoon and will last me an entire week. I grill 6-12 chicken breasts at a time and they last 2-3 days for me. You can do the same with almost any meat. You can eaily put together a few salads that will last a few days if sealed properly. Hard Boiled eggs are another favorite thing to prepare on the weekend and last a week. That along with an apple and peanut or almond butter and you have a full meal of protein, carbs and healthy fats (assuming you don’t go overboard with the PB or AB!)For dinner I just rotate the carbs around depending on what I feel like, and there ya go. Simple meals that are easy, PLUS you can lose weight with the right guidance. I snack on apples, almonds or other nuts throughout the day and eat 5-6x per day. This has been key to control my migraine attacks. Another thing I used to do is make a large pot of veggie soup on Sundays and that will last about a week. You can add whatever you like (I added red skinned potatos, different kinds of beans, zuccini, squash, kale, corn, spices, the list goes on.) I shop at a Whole Foods market and at first, I thought I would be spending more money than at Publix where I used to, but I find the health food store is cheaper in most cases, and offers fresher foods. I also buy things like brown rice in bulk from and I have saved alot of money that way. And like others have said, use coupons when available. Lastly, I have found a reputable company in Jacksonville, Fl who offers fresh, healthy foods that they deliver within 24 hours which are prepared by a local chef, and all meals can be put in the freezer for up to 6 months and then they’re microwaved when you’re ready to eat them. he offers organic, gluten free, paleo, etc meals, and I believe they are starting to deliver in other areas when requested (with dry ice?) These meals have helped me when I am bored with what I have cooked for the week or if I run out of food or just have a migraine and dont want to cook anything!The name is J William Culinary. Check out their website! Hope my advice helps someone.

  • CW
    6 years ago

    We eat out more than we want, too 🙂 It helps me (and others, it sounds like, too) to plan a week’s worth of meals on Sunday so I don’t have to get creative when I’m already tired in the evenings. I use the plan, too, to cook the freshest food early in the week (fish, ripe vegetables, etc.) and plan end-of-week meals that can hold longer or have the ingredients frozen. Evenings that I know in advance are going to be rushed are programmed for fast homemade soup, slow-cooker, or casserole meals. The meal planner apps work well if you invest a little time in them up front. I also like Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food recipes–they’re always fast and simple with a minimum of ingredients. My favorite shortcut is frozen chopped onions–no peeling or cutting or crying.

    I think it also helps to acknowledge that there are days when you’re not going to want to cook or the food went bad, or something else derails your cooking plan, and have a contingency that’s not restaurant-based. I keep a few MSG-free prepared meals in the freezer. Even if it’s frozen pizza, you’re still saving a lot of calories and cash by avoiding the delivery option. Kashi makes some good frozen meals (mmm, lemongrass chicken). If there’s a Trader Joe’s nearby, their frozen meals are usually pretty good too.

    Hope that helps some. Good luck!

  • lara
    6 years ago

    I make a huge salad on the day or day after I buy groceries and then grill chicken in the days after to put on it and it practically makes a meal.

    You can put whatever you want in the salad and providing you store it well, it will keep for a couple days. Some veggies store longer than other. Carrots, onions, peppers, et

    Also, when you buy veggies/fruit, you can buy on the under ripe side, and then put them in your window providing you have a window. I do this with tomatoes, peaches. I’ve had red onions last forever in the fridge but do not store in sunlight because they’ll rot quickly. Avocados are a lost cause. I’ve never found a way to get them to a ‘keep.’

    Use a knife to cut up the lettuce (yeah I know). It’s so much faster and it will make the process of creating a salad so quick. Also use it for grating cheese if you use it on anything.

    I fill the sink with water (stopper) and dump fruit in it to wash the fruit. I leave the fruit in it it for 20 minutes or so and then pull it out using a strainer and let the fruit sit on a towel to dry. So easy! You can cut up strawberries or leave them whole.

    I also keep my potatoes in the fridge because ours rot if we keep them in the pantry. It’s gross.

  • lara
    6 years ago

    “Also use it for grating cheese if you use it on anything.”

    ARRGGH. I edited out a sentence. Use a food processor for grating cheese. I can’t live without mine.

  • Cindi
    6 years ago

    I’ve started one new thing: in the morning I make a protein smoothie before heading to work. I buy one of those giant whey protein (I like strawberry) and add frozen strawberries and skim milk. It covers my “breakfast” protein at least. I’m the kind of person who does not get bored with the same thing day after day. So now I need to find something good that I can take to work for lunch. Frozen meals are just not good for me… I’d like to do better. : )

  • Haeley Derby-Nardone
    6 years ago

    So first things first, if you have the money to dine out or get take out then you have the money to buy additional groceries. What I do is plan what I will make for the week. Pick the stores you want to shop from and have the time to do so. For me this means a small local grocery with local produce and meats, a grocery store that delivers and Target. Look through their sale ads (especially for meats, that stuff gets expensive!) and make your list. From that list think of 7 meals you can prepare and write them out complete with side dishes. Plan to eat your meals in order of the ones that use fresh produce or salads first then on to frozen vegetable for sides so things dont go bad too quickly (plus steam bag vegetables are real time savers for busy nights). Plan simple easy to assemble breakfasts and lunches (I love smoothies for breakfast and like to assemble my lunch the day before to save time in the AM). Add some healthy snacks and treats to your plan because you will want some. Then anything on your list you dont need for these meals or cant freeze for future meals cross them off. This all sounds complicated but it really only takes 30 minutes or so. If you want to add coupons into the plan it may take a bit longer but it will save you additional money. Keep track over time of how fast you run out of things so you can plan ahead and purchase enough to get you through the week. It really comes down to common sense and having a bit of a plan of attack.

  • Diana-Lee
    6 years ago

    I’m pretty sure Janet’s point is that she and her partner are relying on eating out and convenience foods because they are exhausted and debilitated. Not to save money.

    Common sense, sure. But honestly, it’s not that simple when you’re waylaid by chronic Migraine and your partner is waylaid by chronic pain.

  • Diana-Lee
    6 years ago

    Our strategy focuses on protein and veggies. Plus a starch, sometimes.

    A couple of examples:

    (1) We’re grill KC strip steaks or marinated chicken (outdoor or indoor, depending on the season), have huge, veggie filled salad, and, if starches are on the menu, do these foil grilled potatoes, which can also be oven baked with equally wonderful results.

    (2) An all in one dish focusing on lean protein & veggies, such this dish, Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken with Sweet Potatoes:

    (3) Crockpots are the working person’s best friend, especially when one or both of you live with a debilitating condition. Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup is absolutely delicious and fuss free:

  • Diana-Lee
    6 years ago

    You definitely have a point about it being more enjoyable to prepare a meal together, Sherrie.

    It’s not usually possible for us expect for on weekends, but my husband and I really do enjoy spending time together that way.

  • Diana-Lee
    6 years ago

    Ooops, forgot to share the foil grilled potatoes guidelines!

    – Slice Yukon Gold potatoes in the food processor.
    – Thinly slice red onion.
    – Put out a sheet of foil and spray it with cooking spray or rub with olive oil.
    – Throw the potatoes and onion on the foil.
    – Drizzle with olive oil & season with black pepper and Kosher salt.
    – Toss with your hands.
    – Add another sheet of foil on top.
    – Fold and crimp all the sides to create a pouch.


  • Sherrie Gill
    6 years ago

    I use the menuplanner app which helps me collect recipes, plus coordinates with my itouch for a grocery list. I work toward cooking meals on sunday for the week. Not perfect at it…but behavior change takes time. I use a pressure cooker. cooks beans and rice quickly. I am single. I always imagine having someone to cook with would help.

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