Make-Ahead Meals for Optimum Nutrition During Chemotherapy

By Kayla Miett

It’s safe to say that while undergoing chemotherapy, cooking is probably going to be the last thing you want to do. With the nausea, fatigue, and other side effects that follow an infusion, it can difficult to be on your feet working in the kitchen. At the same time, it can be a challenge knowing which foods will be easiest to stomach, as the mere thought of eating can be off-putting during this time.  Nutrition plays an even more crucial role while undergoing treatment, so it is important to find meals that are easy to keep down, require little to no effort to prepare, and that the whole family can enjoy together.

The best way to set yourself up for success is to freeze meals and snacks prior to that first infusion. It can also be helpful to freeze single servings of meals, in addition to the normal family sized portions, so that when someone gets hungry during the day they aren’t filling the whole house with strong food odors (in the event that you may be feeling particularly sensitive). You might also consider having a stash of nutritional shakes such as Boost or Ensure on hand for those days when you simply cannot stomach regular food. Rather than focusing on getting your “three square meals”, try to stick to several snacks and small portions throughout the day to ensure sufficient calorie consumption when your appetite may be waning.

I have compiled a list of 15 easy, nutrient dense make-ahead meals that are light enough for a sensitive palate, but also hearty enough to feed the family. Many of the recipes are easy to freeze in individual portions and reheat in the microwave when short on time and/or energy. The lunch and dinner meals are also great served over rice (which can bind a runny stomach). Most of them include several different vegetables for added nutritional support, fresh ginger for digestive support, and little to no sugar.

 

Breakfasts:

Berries, nuts, & coconut shreds

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Blueberries
  • 2 cups Sliced strawberries
  • 1/8 cups Almonds, sliced
  • 1/8 cups Cashews, raw
  • 1/8 cups Coconut Flakes

Directions:

  1. Divide into 2 Quart freezer bags

Write on bag:

Thaw & top with coconut milk

 

Leek & Egg Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 2/3 cups diced leek
  • 3 t minced garlic
  • ½ cups chopped baby spinach
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat
  2. Add leeks and sauté until soft
  3. Add garlic & spinach and continue to sauté for an additional minute
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and add salt, pepper, rosemary & paprika
  5. Place leek/spinach mixture into a greased 8×8 foil pan. Spread egg mixture evenly over the top of the vegetables.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350
  7. Allow to cool before dividing into individual freezer bags

Write on bag:

Microwave for 1-2 minutes until heated through

 

Overnight Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker before going to bed. Cook on low 8 hours or overnight.

 

Dinners:

Orange Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1lb chicken breast
  • Juice of one orange (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 T minced ginger root
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1t crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to freezer bag

Write on bag:

Cook on low for 4 hours

 

Lemon Butter Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2lb chicken breasts
  • 1lb peas
  • 2 T grass fed butter
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 t black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to freezer bag

Write on bag:

Cook on low 4 hours

 

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1lb chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/4 t salt

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to freezer bag

Write on bag:

Cook on low for 4 hours

 

Ginger Beef

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs beef roast (either leave bone-in or cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 3 carrots, cut into 1-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup scallions sliced
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-4 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1-1½ cups beef stock, or if using bone-in roast, use water
  • 1 T tamari sauce
  • ½ -1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • Chopped kale or swiss chard, to preference
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 2 T tapioca or arrowroot powder

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except for the sugar snap peas into a large freezer bag. (add the peas to the crock pot during the last 30 minutes of cooking)

Write on bag:

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours

 

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ cups lime juice
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into large freezer bag

Write on bag:

Grill over medium high heat for about six min per side

 

Ginger Chicken Breast

Ingredients:

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 ¼ cups diced onion
  • 2 T fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 T liquid aminos
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

Directions:

  1. In a frying pan, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, ginger and liquid aminos.
  2. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and add to pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 30 minutes.
  3. Divide meat and sauce into 2 quart freezer bags

Write on bag:

Thaw, reheat, and serve over spinach leaves

 

Lunches:

Citrus Chicken Salad Strips

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 T peeled & minced ginger
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 5 cups sliced chicken breast

Directions:

  1. Combine orange juice, lime juice, ginger, garlic, chili powder, and cumin and mix together thoroughly.
  2. Pour mixture into large freezer bag and add the chicken strips
  3. Seal and refrigerate for 2 hours
  4. Remove chicken from marinade
  5. Cook the chicken strips thoroughly for 2-3 minutes on each side over medium high heat
  6. Divide into 12 pint freezer bags

Write on bag:

Thaw, & serve warm or cold on top of salad

 

Chicken Soup With Sweet Potato & Spinach

Ingredients:

  • 2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 1 1/2- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 32-oz boxes low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons garlic herb seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except chicken stock into a large freezer bag

Write on bag:

  1. Place all ingredients into crock pot, add chicken stock, & cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
  2. Remove chicken & shred before returning to crock pot.

 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable broth #1
  • 1 ¼ cups diced yellow onion
  • 5 cups canned roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups diced roma tomatoes
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth #2
  • 2 T thyme
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. heat vegetable broth #1 in a large stock pot over medium heat
  2. add onion, peppers, and celery, cook for 3 min
  3. Add garlic and cook for another 3 min
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and remaining broth, cover and bring to a boil
  5. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 25 min
  6. Puree with an immersion blender or process in blender or food processor in small batches
  7. Return to pan, add seasonings, and heat through
  8. Allow to cool, and divide into 6 quart freezer bags

Write on bag:

Reheat in microwave 1-2 minutes

 

Shredded Chicken With Summer Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • ½ cups diced onion
  • 4 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 cups sliced zucchini
  • 2 2/3 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cups cooked & shredded chicken breast
  • ¼ cups chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt coconut oil over medium high heat
  2. Add onions and sauté until they begin to caramelize
  3. Add garlic, zucchini, and carrots and cook until tender
  4. Add cherry tomatoes and chicken and cook until warm. Top with parsley.
  5. Let cool and place into a large freezer bag.

Write on bag:

Heat in microwave for two minutes.

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • ¾ cups diced onion
  • 5 tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ cup liquid aminos
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup canned sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1/3 cups sliced green onion

Directions:

  1. Place ground chicken in slow-cooker and break into small pieces.
  2. Add chopped onions, garlic, coconut aminos, chicken broth, ginger, allspice and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on high, 6-8 on low. Stir this a few times during cooking time to break up the chicken further.
  4. When cooked through, stir in water chestnuts and sliced green onions.
  5. Let cool, and place into 4 quart freezer bags

Write on bag:

Reheat in microwave for 1 minute. Serve on lettuce leaves as the wrap.

 

Cabbage & Winter Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cups diced yellow onion
  • ¾ cups diced carrots
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 ½ cups beef broth
  • 1 ½ T tomato paste
  • 3 cups diced cabbage
  • 6 oz okra, frozen
  • 1 ½ tsp dried basil
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup diced zucchini
  • ¾ cup diced yellow squash

Directions:

  1. sauté onions, carrots, & garlic for 5 min
  2. add beef broth, tomato paste, cabbage, okra, basil, oregano, and salt & pepper
  3. simmer for 5-10 min until all vegetables are tender
  4. add zucchini and yellow squash and simmer an additional 5 minutes
  5. allow to cool and divide into 12 quart freezer bags.

Write on bag:

Reheat in microwave for 1-2 minutes

Leave a Reply