My Cuisine Adventures While Living with ALS
Recently, my husband and I experienced a staycation of sorts — we dined on two weeks of gourmet meals without leaving our home. Although it gave my husband-caregiver a much-needed break from meal preparations and was a nice change of pace for both of us, we wouldn’t do it again. Why? My reasons might surprise you.
In our marriage, I’ve always been in charge of the kitchen. Although I never aimed to be the world’s greatest cook, I did enjoy buying and preparing our meals. Unfortunately, shortly after the onset of my ALS, I relinquished the entire job to my husband. My symptoms made standing and maneuvering around the kitchen risky. Plus, carrying anything of weight was impossible.
But remembering my husband’s bachelor-period cooking fails — like the time he made spaghetti, didn’t have a strainer handy to drain the noodles, and used a tennis racket instead — I made sure we reviewed more than a few kitchen basics!
Luckily, we share a preference for plain, simple meals, so the transition had very few hiccups. And for the next 10 years, we settled into a rotation of favorite weekly dinners, rounded out by an occasional takeout night, plus a weekend of dining at a local eatery.
Even with the onset of stay-at-home mandates and local restaurants closing, we did OK. But I’ll admit that weeks and weeks of plain, simple meals became, well, boring. They were drag-your-knuckles-on-the-floor boring.
An offer we couldn’t refuse
My husband spotted it first. An online “newcomer special discount” for two weeks of gourmet quality, pre-cooked meals, delivered right to our door. The price was right, and we reasoned that it would give my husband a break from kitchen duties. Plus, with Arizona summer temperatures hovering at 100 degrees, we relished the opportunity to stay inside and eat as if we were at a fancy restaurant.
The fun began when I used the company’s mobile app to track the route and status of our order. I marveled that our gourmet meals were being created some 175 miles away and would arrive in only 24 hours.
When the 16-pound box arrived, we dug through the layers of dry ice and insulation to find six individual trays containing our dinners. Just three minutes in the microwave, peel back the transparent plastic cover, and Ta-da! Dinner!
The meals were unique, filling, and healthy, although they were seasoned with way more herbs and spices than we were used to. Cleanup was easy — just toss away the tray. Color my husband happy.
We went online and picked our meals for the second week. This time, I was careful to read the ingredient descriptions. From the first round, I learned their version of mashed potatoes was really mashed cauliflower. The “zoodles” in my Italian meatball selection weren’t made from angel hair pasta, but rather long strips of crunchy zucchini. Must be my Midwestern roots, but I wasn’t ready for “zoodles.” We made our selections and crossed our fingers.
That’s when I was hit with a case of “environmental guilt.” I thought of our 16-pound box of dry ice and filler, the trucks needed to travel 175 miles, and our food arriving in little plastic trays. The potential negative carbon footprint was humbling.
By the end of week two, the novelty had certainly worn off and we were ready for our staycation to end. I’m grateful for the experience and glad to know meal options are out there.
I hit the “cancel subscription” button.
My husband’s sloppy Joes, with a side of Doritos, were looking pretty good again!
Always be flexible, always be open to trying new things, and try to live well while living with ALS.
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