HelloFresh, GrubHub Or Whole Foods: Tips On Cooking With An Eating Disorder


I’ve written quite a bit about cooking over the years.

From the days of meal planning post-rehab (that lasted all of a month) to New York small apartment cooking (that also lasted approximately 22 days) to Grub Hub’ing  (more often than not) to cooking meat for the first time (disaster) to present day Hello Fresh meal plan subscriptions, I’ve phased through it all – which led me to this post, and a comforting realization.

Saturday morning, I woke up in one of those frenzied moods, shoving the comforter back so forcibly that my dog jumped up in fright.

I HAVE X, X, AND X TO DO, I announced aloud, leaping up to brush my teeth – as though I was about to set out to save the world from the Bubonic Plague (or Trump.)

In reality, all I really had to do was cook a couple dishes for a pot luck dinner my partner and I attended Sunday night.

I know, tough life.

But, cooking and I are not always friends. As I told someone once in the early days of recovery “I wish someone would just stick a tube in my stomach and hook a bag to it ’cause then I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore.”

At the time it seemed like a hellavu lot easier than navigating meals.

Anyway, so there I am standing in my bathroom bemoaning what it is I plan to cook.

Do I go with what I know? Do I attempt a Halibut with some fancy-ass lemon cream romesaco insert-arbitrary-french-word sauce (lolz, let’s be real. I’m not gonna do that.)

Stick with what you know – I reminded myself, heading out to the farmers market in search of ingredients. This doesn’t have to be stressful.

I think that’s the problem sometimes. We make cooking a much more intimidating experience than it needs to be (#perfectionism #eatingdisorder).

So, as I meandered through the market – I made a point to buy ingredients I felt confident handling (even when that included writing a $5 check to an organic food vendor for a bushel of potatoes ’cause who the hell has cash money these days?)

They may not like everything you make, I reminded myself. But, they’ll know you tried. (And hey – more leftovers if they don’t.)

Came home around 9am; decided on a few staples – brussels sprouts with parmesan crusted cheese and red potatoes, Mediterranean couscous, summer black bean salad, and lemon garlic parmesan orzo with summer squash and zucchini.

Danced around the kitchen to Muddy Waters and Sam Cooke; imagined myself as some Delta Blues waitress in a smoky bar, leaned over asking a patron “want it on the rocks?”

I cooked.

And the end result was two happy couples chowing down – and me, a newly confident cook, which I’m noticing more tangibly these days.

So, here’s six tips that are gettin’ me by.

1.) Hello Fresh: A Cop Out or A Heaven Sent

Full disclosure: I’m clearly a Hello Fresh subscriber. If you have alternative meal prep services that you swear by, feel free to comment below this post.

Anyway, twice a month I come home (cause who can afford this stuff every week?) – bemoaning Monday work stress – and I collect my lovely three meals for two people.

I step in the elevator with my big ass box and lean against the side. Inevitably, there is always another person accompanying my ride who asks:

“Ah, Hello Fresh. I’ve heard of that. You like it?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I always say – trying pathetically to balance the cardboard box against the wall while my arm muscles strain. “It’s great, easy, just lays it out for me and I cook. Don’t have to think about what I want to cook, which is a plus {snarky chuckle.}”

“Nice. I like coming up with my own recipes though, so I feel like it’d take away from it.”

I blink.

Yah, okay Gordon-fucking-Ramsey. I’m sure you and your shrimp dish are an oven bake away from a Michelin Star.


ANYWAY, for those of us that don’t necessarily feel adapt in the kitchen, I think meal preps are a great way to approach the craft.

There’s something quite freeing in our ED world – when someone else gives us what to make. It takes away from the narrative that’s forever saying “Is that healthy? is that X? Is that x?” and instead says: “Here. Make this. Go on autopilot. Decision made.”

Tip: think of meal prep services like a virtual auto-assistant, it helps declutter the mind from our eating disorder conversations.

2.) Knock it Out in One Sitting

Look, if you’re like me and still figuring out how to intuitively cook – just set aside a couple hours and knock it out. That way, you don’t have to go through the god forsaken experience multiple times a week.

Hello Fresh is great for this since it sends you the bags with every ingredient in it (and adds variety to your meals.) But, again, who wants to pay for meal preps every week?  Eventually, you’ll likely settle on staple recipes you can whip together quickly and confidently. Humans are creatures of habit, don’t stress if you find yourself making the same Mediterranean couscous dish every other week (just me? I LOVE COUSCOUS. SO EASY.)

Surprise surprise, I’ve noticed that the more I make a recipe the more adaptable I become to adding/exchanging ingredients so that it doesn’t feel so much like a DAUNTING, rigid task with strict guidelines like a final paper you wrote on Shakespeare for English class. It starts to feel fluid, even natural – something I never thought I’d feel towards cooking.

Additionally, I’ve noticed as of late that when I cook 2-3 meals for the week in one sitting, I stop measuring everything for each meal, which has been surprising in that I realize by doing so – I’m letting go of the strict, subtle “calorie count” in my head. You know what I’m saying. It goes something like:

“If I put in the 1/4 cup of olive oil, it equals X. If I add half a small squash it equals X.”

That narrative, I’ll call it, subsides when I don’t actually have a clue how much I’ve put in – and instead eyeballed it.

Of course, yes, I am human. I wonder sometimes “Wow, wonder if I just added 500 MORE CALORIES TO THIS MEAL,” when in reality it’s like 1 olive oil teaspoon more (old habits die hard), but it’s evolving. I’m evolving – and it’s now no longer taking me 6 hours to do 3 meals, and instead I’m done in time to binge watch This Is Us for the 8th time in six months – or Orange is the New Black season 6. (P.S. Anyone else watched the latest season? I’m over it – but still can’t seem to tear myself away from the characters.)

TIP: Get used to cooking the same meals confidently before you go out and try to make that Beef Wellington with Lemon Meringue Pie. 

3.) Frank Sinatra Spotify: Learning {Cooking to} the Blues

When I was brainstorming on this post, the first thing that came to mind was music.

I swear by it in the kitchen. And maybe you’re not like me in the sense that I love to stand over a sizzling skillet and swing my hips to Ray Charles or Frank Sinatra, envisioning myself as a barmaid being romanced by the piano player, but I highly suggest you put on some background noise.

Whether it’s Forensic Files, Dateline, John Oliver, Bob Marley or Bob Dylan – have your “comfort sound” in the background as you prep. It’ll distract you from that pervasive eating disorder narrative, and lighten the mood (alright, so Forensic Files isn’t exactly a mood “brightener,” but you get what I’m saying.)

Tip: Blur out the eating disorder chatter in your head with some tunes – or some Law & Order: SVU “DUN DUN DUN.”

4.) For the Love of God: Don’t Scrape on the Olive Oil

Need I elaborate?

Yes, I know that in our little eating disorder minds, we love to cut corners where we can:

Is that entire stick of butter reeeeeally going to ‘blend it all together’?

Do we really have to add another tablespoon (or two) of olive oil to the skillet?


Otherwise, you’re going to end up with zucchini that is about as charred as a Smore marshmallow or burnt garlic that you have to pick out of the couscous.

Tip: It’s not worth it to cut out measurements. Just add the proper amount people. And remind yourself that you’re not eating the whole meal in one sitting – it’s spread out over days. 

5.) (Don’t Hate Me) But Cooking Is About the Experience

I know. I absolutely hate that cliche catchphrase: it’s about the experience.

Like, OK Susan, try living in my head for one meal prep and I guarantee you’ll want your money back. This isn’t a performance of Hamilton.

But, what I mean, is that it does ultimately come down to how you want to present the act of cooking to yourself.

I can’t count how many times I’ve groaned while at the grocery store, whined while sitting in the car on the way home, and trudged dejectedly into my apartment as though cooking is akin to god awful work networking events we’re all forced to attend (admit it, they suck.)

Like I said previously, throw on some music. Set the table. Eat with your kids or your partner or friend or roomie (but, cook alone in the beginning. Nothing is more obnoxious than other people commenting how slow you are at chopping.)

Pour a glass of wine. Relax. (But, don’t use that glass of wine to suddenly decide “oh I’m not that hungry now teehee!” Yes, I see through you.)

Tip: you get what you pay for, in some sense. Goggle how to easily chop onions or ginger so you don’t spend 20 minutes doing it “your way.” Set the mood. Put out some silverware. Try not to just end up eating over the stove, getting the deed done.

6.) Have A Plan B

You’re going to fuck up.

There, I said it – so you don’t have to wonder.

You will burn veggies – and add too much water to pasta – and likely you will undercook or overcook meat at some point.

It’s irritating watching money fly (or in this case, fry) out the window – but it’s not an excuse to not eat. So, have a frozen pizza on standby. And no, this doesn’t have to be like a shitty azz, no nutrients pizza either. There’s plenty of plan B options that won’t have you hating yourself for days on end afterwards.

Tip: cooking becomes a lot less intimidating when you accept that you’re not going to do well at it in the beginning. Things will go wrong. Stoves are different – burn differently – ovens undercook. But, you’ll figure it out. Just have a back up. 

2 thoughts on “HelloFresh, GrubHub Or Whole Foods: Tips On Cooking With An Eating Disorder

  1. Pingback: It's True: You Probably Aren't "Sick Enough" To Have An Eating Disorder - I Haven't Shaved In 6 Weeks

  2. Hi All, I just want to ask if anyone ever tried using medical cannabis as an alternative meds? I suffer from a motor cycle accident and had a broken tibial plateau. I under go 2 surgery, first was bone grafting, they get some bones on my hip and put it on the crushed part of my tibial.Then they put some titanuim plating on my broken bone. I had to indure 6 months of pain and anxiety. So I started reading articles about medical marijuana and how it can help you in terms of chronic pain, glaucoma, eating disorder, anxiety disorders and panic attacks, inflammation, even cancer and a lot more. Like this review on http://www.ilovegrowingmarijuana.com/chernobyl/. Cbd and thc are also new to me and I don’t even smoke. If this is true I cant find any solid conclusive evidence that speaks to its efficacy. Any personal experience or testimonial would be highly appreciated. Thanks

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