Despite the complete exhaustion I have felt over the last few months, plus occasional bouts of pain/sickness/insanely busy work, I have still been keen to cook meals from scratch. I don't want to rely on ready made, processed meals; even when overwhelming tiredness is threatening to prevent me from doing anything but sleep. Apart from the limited choice of gluten free options, they are expensive and full of preservatives and flavourings that are likely to wreak havoc with my Crohn's Disease. So, if convenience food is out, what about convenience ingredients? By this, I mean peeled and chopped vegetables, tinned tomatoes with ingredients like olives, onions, or chillies already in there, frozen mashed potatoes, and canned beans, peas, and lentils. In the past I have been loathe to shell out on prepared vegetables (why pay extra for someone else to chop them up for you when it takes minutes to do it yourself?) and canned pulses (what is so difficult about soaking dried ones overnight before you need them?), but a blood haemoglobin count of 6.8 (normal for me is usually 12, normal for normal people is 15) and a folate count of 2 (normal is 10) have meant that the task of slicing an onion feels like a monumental job, and preparing ingredients for the following day is the last thing on my mind when I'm ready to sleep at tea-time.
So, I swallowed my pride and browsed a whole new section of the supermarket aisles. I discovered packs of soffritto, onion, carrot, and celery cubed, diced onions, butternut squash and sweet potato - ready to cook, even peeled garlic cloves! My freezer is stocked with chopped garlic, ginger, and chives, and I have tins of button and sliced mushrooms, chickpeas, potatoes, and fried onion piled up in my cupboards. This will not be a permanent feature of my kitchen, but while I wait for the various anemia treatments to take effect, it is the ideal way to help me cook home-made dishes for Husband and I. I have only taken the pre-prepared route with veg and pulses, with meat I bought it enough for a month's worth of meals, cut it into portions and froze it, ready for when I want it.
I find slow cooking to be the least labour intensive method at the moment, tonight we are having slow-roasted pork belly. To accompany it, a chorizo and chickpea casserole (with tomatoes and mushrooms for Husband - they are too high residue for me). The chickpeas, potatoes, and mushrooms are all tinned, the tomatoes were slow roasted earlier in the week, and the chorizo took less than a minute to slice! It's not time consuming, but it is satisfying to know that we can still eat home-cooked meals with little exertion from me.