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Meals and Snacks for When You’re Overwhelmed

Are you having a rough mental health day and need some quick food? These meal and snack ideas are easy for when you’re overwhelmed!

I’m gonna let you in on a secret.

Even though meal planning and cooking is my full-time job, I get totally overwhelmed at times and just can’t think.

I have ADHD, so sometimes executive dysfunction kicks in and my eating habits tank. Like, I KNOW I need to make something for breakfast or lunch, but the last thing my body wants to do is get up and do all the steps involved.

And when you’re struggling with mental health issues, not eating can sometimes make things worse. Food helps you think better; and when your blood sugar levels are stable, you can make better decisions.

An image grid with pancakes, cheese and crackers, yogurt and granola, and canned soup. Text reads "Meals to make when you're overwhelmed"

This list of meals and snack ideas has helped me when my brain doesn’t function well. Some are simple recipes, and some aren’t even recipes- they’re just foods you can throw together for a quick meal.

Are these meals cost-effective?

Some of these involve buying store-bought versions of foods, like pancakes and pre-cubed cheese. You can definitely make pancakes ahead of time, or buy a block of cheese to cube yourself. But if you’ve ever struggled with mental health and your stress levels are high, even the thought of just cutting up some cheese seems impossible.

So you might be spending a little extra money on these convenience foods in the short term. But sometimes the extra cost is worth the mental peace that it brings. Be kind to yourself during this time!

Meals to make when you’re overwhelmed

A bag of frozen pancakes

Frozen pancakes

Pancakes are a family favorite around here! They can be super easy to cook and freeze for later. But there are times when you forget to prep them, or simply don’t have time on those busy days.

Store-bought pancakes can be a life-saver! If you want a little extra nutrition, look for the ones with added protein, like Kodiak Cakes or the bag shown here that I bought from Aldi.

Add a sliced banana if you have one, and a drizzle of maple syrup; and breakfast can be made in minutes.

If you actually feel like putting together a recipe, try these Sheet Pan Pancakes! You bake this in the oven instead of spending a ton of time flipping pancakes.

A bag of cheese cubes and a box of woven crackers

Cheese and crackers

This is an easy snack combo that you can take with you. Cheese has protein and fat, while crackers have carbs and whole grains.

Bags of cheese cubes can help simplify the process if you can’t cube your own block of cheese. And if you want more staying power, I suggest finding some whole grain crackers, like these woven crackers.

Toast and avocado

This might be the latest trend, but it’s a seriously simple meal. Pop a slice or two of bread in the toaster and then layer it with smooth avocado. Avocado is filled with healthy Omega 3 fats, and that paired with whole wheat bread can give you steady energy throughout the day.

I actually buy individual guacamole cups. These tend to last longer than an avocado, so it’s a great way to avoid food waste. And they already have seasonings added to it for extra flavor.

A bag of granola and a cup of Greek yogurt

Yogurt and granola

This is one of my favorite combinations! Greek yogurt has a lot more protein than regular yogurt, which keeps me full longer. Granola is made of oats, which has whole grains.

I like to buy pretty simple granola. This one has raisins and nuts in it and is lower in sugar than ones that have a bunch of chocolate chips and other indulgent foods.

A can of Campbell's Homestyle chicken tortilla soup

Canned soup

Seriously, I’d forgotten how delicious canned soup can be! They’ve really come a long way and have a ton of options. It’s basically the easiest meal I can make for lunch, and it’s the perfect comfort food for a cold day.

Campbells makes good Homestyle soups. This Chicken Tortilla soup was AMAZING, and it’s so simple to open up and heat in the microwave.

Canned soups usually have some sort of vegetable in them, so this is a nice healthy meal in itself if you’re having a bad day mentally. If you need more food, you can add a salad (See below for an easy idea) or even a bread item like a dinner roll.

Apples and peanut butter

A sliced apple with peanut butter is an awesome snack! Apples are a good source of Vitamin C and fiber, and peanut butter is full of healthy fat.

I use an apple slicer for my apples, but you can also buy pre-sliced apples that come in individual bags. And I LOVE the little cups of Jif peanut butter. This makes for a nice on-the-go snack if you need something quick!

Salad kit and chicken

The salad kits you find at the grocery store are AMAZING. They’re fully of leafy greens and have all the toppings neatly packaged along with it. All you have to do is dump the ingredients in a bowl and mix it all together. And you can divide it into two servings!

I always recommend eating a protein with salad, so a pre-cooked roast chicken from the store is quick and easy to pull apart.

If even that’s too much, you can buy pre-cooked grilled chicken strips. Then it’s as simple as opening a bag and throwing some chicken on top.

Listen, friend. Healthy eating is hard enough as it is, even when you’re in a good place. But when your mental health starts wavering, you do what you have to do to survive.

One of the best ways to get started is just one small step at a time. Buy a box of crackers and some cheese cubes and focus on that one snack for now. Or maybe just make a short list of pantry staples you want to keep.

Either way, just take a deep breath. You’ll get through this. It’s tough now, but things will get easier. Worry about what you CAN control, like the food you can buy. You’ve got this!


Monday 13th of March 2023

Thank You

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