Coping in the Kitchen After Losing Your Spouse

Published on November 2, 2012 by

This is a guest post by Ali Hunter

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After the loss of a spouse, you may find yourself taking on roles you’re not used to. In some cases, that might mean taking over the family finances. Or it might mean venturing into the grocery store and kitchen. If that’s new territory for you, here are some basic tips that will help:

Planning a few meals at a time requires a little organization, but this will set you up for healthy, easy meals that are right at your fingertips when you want them.

First, tune into your taste buds and consider what you enjoy eating. Then, you can start creating multiple meals out of the ingredients you like. Having ingredients carry over from meal to meal is what will save you the aggravation of multiple trips to the grocery store.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Here are two of my favourites:


Oatmeal is very nutritious and will help keep you feeling full for longer.

You’ll need:

½ cup of whole grain quick cooking rolled oats
1 banana or other fruit
1 small handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc..
½ cup of milk
Maple syrup to sweeten (optional)

Place oats in a bowl with 1 cup of water and microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Mix in your fruit, nuts, milk and sweetener (if using).


Eggs are the perfect way to start your morning. A four-egg poacher makes a quick, easy meal with not a lot to clean up. Have your poached eggs with whole grain bread, cheddar cheese and salsa.

And who says eggs are just for breakfast? You can also hard boil some eggs and keep them handy for lunch or snacks.

When it comes to lunch and dinner, they’re pretty interchangeable. Your leftovers from dinner can make a great lunch the next day. Here are some options to consider:

Soup and a sandwich, the old standby

Check the “health foods” section of your grocery store for natural, organic soups that have less salt and no artificial ingredients.

Choose wholegrain bread for added fiber. For your sandwich filling, check with your taste buds again – you may want to make egg salad from your hard boiled eggs, open a can of salmon or tuna, or even enjoy the occasional luncheon meat (look for natural brands without additives).

You can top your sandwich with cheese, and don’t forget your veggies!

Add something green

Try to get into the practice of adding something green to your lunch. A good rule of thumb is the darker the green, the more nutritious. Pre-washed spinach is easy to add to a sandwich. Other vegetables are healthy also, like sliced tomatoes and onions.

Also, keep some cut up vegetables (broccoli, celery, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, etc.) in the fridge for snacking or adding to lunch or dinner. Hummus is easy to find at the grocery store and is a tasty way to dress up your raw veggies or use as a sandwich spread.

Rice bowls

Use brown rice for additional fiber and flavor. Cooking rice with vegetable stock instead of water adds even more flavor. Mix in your favourite sautéed veggies (onion, red pepper, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, etc.) and some protein, and you’ve got a meal in a bowl!

For protein, look for pre-portioned fish fillets in the frozen foods section – these are very convenient for small dinners.


When choosing sauces to add flavour to pasta, chicken or other meats, check out your store’s “health food” section. Always try to avoid products that are high in salt, sugar or artificial ingredients. Be adventurous and experiment with curry, peanut, Thai, salsa or teriyaki sauces.

When it comes to managing your meals, remember to keep it simple, healthy and tasty!

Ali Hunter is a professionally-trained chef and the owner of Ali Hunter Cuisine, providing catering, nutritional menu planning and cooking lessons in Collingwood and Muskoka. She takes pride in guiding clients to prepare healthy meals that are also satisfying to eat. You can learn more at



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