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talkhealth forums • Quick, nutritious and low cost
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Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:36 pm
by Housemouse

Can you suggest a few ideas I could use for 'grazing' for breakfast/lunch please? That would not require cooking and is quick, nutritious and low cost.

Thank you

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:05 pm
by Action for M.E.
You might find some useful tips in the article 'Superfoods for spring', which appeared in our membership magazine, InterAction. You can take a look at

http://www.actionforme.org.uk/get-infor ... for-spring

Suggestions include:
- oat muesli mixed with soya, rice or oat milk and topped with yogurt and fruit
- oatcakes spread with hummus or soft cheese
- smoothies made with frozen berries.

Best wishes

Action for M.E.

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:10 pm
by Sue Luscombe
I think there will be many who identify with your question. Having CFS/ME can mean financial hardship, or constraints, and lack of energy will compromise a person’s ability to shop more regularly or spend long on food preparation. Eating itself can be a lot of effort.

I thoroughly recommend reading the article posted by Action for ME, written by a leading authority on diet, Judith Harding. It will give you nutritious suggestions.

I will focus on low-cost things to graze on for breakfast/lunch that do not need cooking - or scarcely any preparation.

Oats based muesli cereals are excellent morning starters. Cheaper, and still nutritious are a lot of wholegrain cereals, many of which are fortified with vitamins and iron. Wheat biscuits, bran flakes, multigrain cereals, etc, etc. Patients on low income tell me that some of the basic, or value, ranges are quite acceptable to eat and surprisingly often fairly similar nutrition content, but that is a matter for personal choice.

The cheapest accompaniment with breakfast cereals is cow’s milk, but some people use fruit juice, soya or other milk alternatives. Yoghurts also work well.

Oatcakes, rye and other crispbreads, crackers, breadsticks are good snack item, since being non-perishable means they store for longer. Have these with some in-season salad veg like tomato, cucumber etc.

Cheaper protein sources that require no cooking will be soft and hard cheese, peanut butter, and nuts. A little more expensive are humous, cooked sliced meats, tinned fish and tinned meats. Some people even like baked beans cold!

Assorted types of bread, rolls, pitta bread, eaten cold as a sandwich. Toast can require minimal effort to prepare and might be possible for some . Just add some cheese and tomato slices and put in the microwave for 20-30secs.

Not to forget some fruit. This can be expensive and best to buy in season for best value. Bananas are reasonable at the moment and there are a lot of soft fruits, plums nectarines around. Including dry fruit because it keeps a lot longer, and taking one of your 5 fruit and veg a day as a glass of fruit juice might also be very practical.

I hope the moderators will allow this thread to remain open as suggestions from others can be very helpful, for this particular question.

Hope this give you a few new ideas.

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:15 pm
by bearingup
Green smoothies are surprisingly delicious, quick and exceedingly nourishing. I start by slinging a big handful of leaves into the blender and add some of the following: banana, apple, celery, melon, cucumber, peach, nectarine, berries ( frozen ones are actually cheaper than fresh!), or whatever you fancy. I tend not to add tomatoes or peppers as they seem to overwhelm the other flavours. I then add some almonds, cashews or dessicated coconut that I have soaked in water in the fridge overnight. This seems to make the nuts more digestible, and they are much easier to blend. A glass of water, a quick whizz, and that's it!

If you like it sweet, add some honey or a couple of dates, or some Stevia sweetener. To make my smoothies even more nourishing, I add chia seeds that have been soaked for 10 minutes in water, juice, or almond milk. Chia is very nourishing and when you soak it, it plumps up to a consistency something like mini tapioca, which I really love.

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:38 pm
by goblinff
Since my recent relapse mum & I are trying to find foods that are (1) cheap, (2) last in the fridge in case I don't eat much for a few days, I can't afford to throw food away, (3) energy efficient for me and flexible so I can use them to do something a bit more interesting on a good day, or just eat on a bad day, and (4) can use in different ways depending on how knackered I am - hot or cold or combined with other basics to give variety/interest. This is what we've come up with recently:

Boiled Eggs: Turns out that you can 'roll' the shell around the plate to crack it, it comes off fairly easily OR you can use a knife to chop in half and scoop out with a spoon if your hands are failing on fine-motor-skills that day. AND they keep in the fridge for a few days. They're good nutritionally and easy to eat/ swallow if you're having a 'hard time chewing' day.

CousCous: you have to be able to use a kettle or mug of water in the microwave for this, or have someone else to do it for you. You just pour hot water on the dry couscous, and leave it alone for 15mins. Add a bit of olive oil and chopped up raw veg (another basic my parents do for me every few days) or even veg from packets/jars or the freezer like corn or peas or sun dried tomatos etc). Mix it up. You can eat it hot, then also cold later on (I have trouble some days it all goes cold before I manage to finish it, so it's nice to have something I can start when hot, that tastes ok after it's gone cold). If you add any bacon/ ham etc, the fat congeals, and isn't as nice cold. But good when hot.

RiceCooker: Same volume of rice & cold water. (quite light to move from packet/tap to rice cooker). Plug into socket, press the button. Walk away. Perfect rice... The cooker innards lifts out to go straight in the fridge or you can spoon it out bit by bit without lifting anything heavy. Eat hot or cold, dressed with rice vinegar or soy sauce or plain, with tinned tuna, or crab or ham or chopped raw veg (carrots, cucumber, celery, red peppers, whatever's in season) or crabsticks or boiled eggs, maybe with a bit of mayonnaise or lettuce etc. (Think of it as 'deconstructed' cooked sushi - the Japanese call it 'scattered sushi' - the idea is, it's all the ingredients & taste without the effort...). Any rice works, except quick cook ones. Best of all, it goes onto a 'keep warm' function so it's impossible to ruin on a day when I forget and fall asleep...

Flat seaweed (Nori) IS expensive but a little goes a long way, and it's good nutritionally, comes in flat sheets, use scissors to cut sheet into quarters, put rice & fillings (as above) in the middle of a quarter, roll up & eat. Less washing up (no forks etc).

Plain Yoghurt: with honey, or prunes, or raisins, or fresh fruit or chopped/ grated apple. Also if you mix in a few raw oats - it's soluble fibre (good for you) - and a bit more filling. You can eat this bit by bit without the taste/ texture changing - unlike porridge or weetabix etc. So eating slowly is fine.

I'm really interested to see what other people do/ ideas they have

*Edit: the idea is to do 'cooking' once, like rice cooker or boiled eggs or couscous, several portions at once, then you can eat it with adding different things so you don't get bored and don't waste any food or energy. And you don't have to make a big effort every day, only once every 3-4 days*

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:54 pm
by Valentijn
I used to love boiled eggs for easy protein, but I don't tolerate them now. My new easy protein is liverworst, though I have to be careful to get gluten-free, no MSG (E621), etc. But a couple bites is quite filling and helps me avoid the cruddy feeling I get if I go too long with no protein.

I also like little instant rice noodles. I just boil water in an electric kettle, pour it over the noodles in a bowl, and let it sit til the noodles are soft enough. I stir in some spices, or drain the water and stir in a sauce.

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:28 pm
by Housemouse
Thank you all Very much for the super suggestions.

I dare not cook (I learnt the hard way that my cooking days are over - oops is an understatement ) and I don't own a microwave - but you have given me a good variety of ideas, much appreciated. Fresh fruit/veg is difficult for me to obtain, I didn't even think of frozen (that'll be my brain fog) - I'm really looking forward to 'happy grazing'.

Thank you again. . Best wishes

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:55 am
by goblinff
That's why I like my rice cooker and microwave Housemouse - it's very very hard to get it wrong! I know some people have sensitivities to electrical stuff, so wouldn't consider it. You can get them both from the internet quite cheaply these days, I'd find it really hard without them.

I'm considering getting one of those slow cookers that switch themselves off. You just throw in a load of frozen veg, some bouillon powder (Marigold - like a stockcube but in a powder so easier to use), maybe even a bit of meat & set it, and leave it for hours. It switches itself off, is really really cheap on electric. And if you've got a ladle, you can just spoon it out into bowls when cold, (less heavy to get into the fridge) then eat as & when required (though with meat the fat congeals, as I said earlier, so, not great cold, but a veggie type stew is nice cold). And as a bonus, it's wet food, so less worrying about getting enough liquids inside you.

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:08 am
by Jan Palace
Such a relief to know that my difficulty with thinking about adequate nutrition vs ability to budget/shop for/prepare/cook/eat and preserve foods is not mine alone. Thank you. I don't have much to add to this (exhausted after typing first sentence) just to say be careful to treat rice properly -don't keep it warm, after it's cooked, cool and refrigerate ASAP as there are lots of bad things that can grow in it & poison you. Treat it like chicken or fish, (please check this out for yourself as I don't know enough technical terms to explain.)
If you can cook for yourself then brown rice is so much tastier, even on it's own but, as it needs rinsing in several changes of water, then cooking for 45 mins (2&1/2 x water to rice, eg. 1/2 cup rice to 2 1/2 cups cold water, splash of soy sauce instead of salt, bring to boil then cover & low simmer for 45 mins or until water evaporated.) great if you can do it. This can be eaten hot or cold with anything (tinned tuna/salmon/sardine mixed in along with sweet or finely chopped raw veggies or cooked fresh peas mixed in & possibly frozen in portions like this for difficult days.
Hope this helps, got to stop now as aching from writing. Wishing you all (and myself) a miracle recovery.

Re: Quick, nutritious and low cost

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:35 pm
by goblinff
good point about rice being poisonous if not cooled/ kept in fridge & not eaten fast. One needs to be careful.

My rice cooker acts as a steamer, so as long as I let it cool fairly soon after cooking, then just put the whole pot + lid in the fridge, it's effectively 'sterilised' environment, so leaving it on warm if I've fallen asleep isn't a major health issue. Also, I've been told it is safe to put the rice cooker on overnight, it clicks over to the 'warm' setting til breakfast time, when you eat it/ cool the rest & refridgerate immediately...

(would hate to mislead anyone and cause nasty effects!)