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Mar 31, 2014 11:28 AM

Food for non Patients during hospital stay

Dear Hubby(of 48 years) will be having heart bypass surgery next week. He will be well fed, but then there are our 3 adult children and I who have to eat too.
I am planning to make a quiche the day before he goes to bring in slices to warm in the family kitchenette. I need some good ideas for snacks, and alternatives to sandwiches for lunches. Dinners I am planning out.
Thanks for all ideas.

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  1. Can you be more specific?
    Are your children adults? Living at home or independently? From out of town and staying with you?
    What is this family kitchenette?

    For better or worse, I have experience with these surgeries, along with the hospital visits and subsequent care once home, so I'd love to help.

    1. A frittata would be much easier than quiche, and can be eaten at room temperature. Throw in almost any kind of vegetable and/or cheese.

      For snacks, maybe some kind of grain salad with vegetables...

      Good luck to husband. Good friend just had this surgery, as an emergency, a month or so ago and is doing fine!

      1. In a similar situation I have found teabags or the little paper pipes of instant coffee and little envelopes of sugar nice to have so I could get a hot drink without having to leave the patient to go to the cafeteria. You mention a family kitchen---nice!---but in the absence of one an immersion heater that you just immerse in any mug of water and plug in, works fine. Just don't use it in anything but plain water. I tried it once in a cup of milk and set off the hospital's fire alarm system. Immersion heaters are sold in travel equipment stores.

        1. Unless it's about the expense, don't rule out the hospital cafeteria. Several of the hospitals in my area have done major overhauls of their dining options to provide tasty and healthy options. In fact, one of the hospitals has people coming there specifically to eat in their cafeteria as it's actually better than any of the restaurant options in the immediate area. They use locally sourced ingredients when possible and have their own small herb and greens garden on the roof. It's sort of the "put up or shut up" model of "we can't lecture you about healthy eating if we serve our staff and guests sodium laden processed crap." So check out the cafeteria instead of adding meal planning to your worries.

          Otherwise, make your own granola or trail mix, hit up a good butcher shop and buy some beef sticks, beef jerky, or turkey jerky to snack on, buy a big thermos if you don't have one and make chili or soup to bring with you, make a bowl of pasta or quinoa salad with a vinaigrette based dressing.

          2 Replies
          1. re: amishangst

            If you are planning to eat in the patient's room rather than go to the cafeteria, consider that a patient feeling a little queasy (for instance, from pain medication) may be thrust over the edge into vomiting by smelling food. I spent eons in hospital rooms with my husband and I honestly would recommend going to the cafeteria, especially if you have other family members who can take your place at bedside for a while. Also, you will have enough on your mind without having to plan picnics. But if you must bring food from home because of cost or other reasons like dietary or religious obligations, try to eat it somewhere other than in the patient's room.

            1. re: Querencia

              I'd like to add that small cafeteria breaks can restore your sanity if you are sitting at your husband's bedside for hours on end. You will need to be strong, in good spirits and rational when faced with any difficult situation that could possibly arise during the hospital stay. Escape for a few minutes when you can.

              That said, the less worry about heating of food carried in, the better. The hotter the food, the more odor it may give off (with exceptions, of course). Opt for low-odor producing items (apples, yogurt, simple sandwiches and salads with vinaigrette-style dressings). As suggested by others, smelly food can make the patient, and others nearby, queasy. I'd avoid all egg-based dishes, personally.

              Anything you place in the communal fridge or freezer should be tied in a bag with your name on it. Things go "missing" when others are peckish and suddenly unclear about basic rules of etiquette.

          2. Been there, done that.

            Many hospitals have edible, some even nice cafeterias. Ask the nurse. Don't feed the patient. If there is a fridge that can handle complete dinners, I would buy frozen ones and use as needed.

            Remember, the patient needs a break from the family also. So be good and be gone during potty breaks.

            9 Replies
            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              Great point. The nurses need room to groove and prefer that you get out of their hair. There's a lot of hardware in the room post op.
              I also recommend seeing what the cafeteria options are. My experience is that the food is inexpensive.

              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                Patients are kept in the hospital in order to rest and recover. Stay about 15 minutes and leave. Then you can go to dinner or go home to dinner.

                1. re: c oliver

                  I understand what you are saying but when my husband was in the hospital, I stayed with him every day from start of visiting hours until the end of them. Rabid dogs couldn't keep me away. I brought a book and magazines and kept busy while he slept. Being hospitalized can be depressing and lonely for the patient. I'd go as far to say a spouse is an exception to the visitor rule.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    My husband was in the hospital for three months and I was there pretty much all the time except when I went home to sleep. And even then, he begged me to stay. I could have too but I needed my time alone, not him.

                    It's best to be there as much as you can, to communicate with the doctors when they randomly pop in, and to spell the aides, unless you can afford 24 hour private care.

                    I brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches most days, and took bites of it driving in the car, coming and going. Food wasn't on my mind, for the first time in my life. The only food I ate in the room were the leftovers from his meal trays.

                    1. re: coll

                      Every family dynamic is different.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Right, and it sounds as if the OP is dealing with something new, at least at this level.
                        It's really scary for all involved, and you have no idea what exactly to expect.

                  2. re: c oliver

                    For major surgery, having a family member there during the day is smart. For one thing, you might not ever see the surgeon, unless you stay there most of the day. For another, the family member should be paying attention! Mistakes are often made with meds after surgery. However, the job can be rotated between family members, and people should be able to go eat in the cafeteria.

                    I have experienced this situation myself, and I don't think there is a great need to bring meals, unless you are on a difficult diet regimen.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      I have seen first hand how true this is. Mistakes happen. A family member can often spot issues in the patients behavior and responses that medical staff doesn't. Plus your observations help with future billing errors.

                      I have found the food has improved greatly at many hospitals.
                      Although the last hospital I visited had fast food options only which were prepared worse than their usual renditions.

                      Yohgurt, fruit, cheese & crackers, nuts, energy bars are my go to options. I usually need a break and prefer a meal away from the patient area.

                      1. re: meatn3

                        My husband's last hospital stay, I was fighting him for the food on his tray. It was Chinese, Pakistani, all kinds of spicy. My neighbor works there and said how many compliments they get about their chef.

                        My husband has ongoing issues and all medical staff will tell you, they depend on the caregiver to be the first in line to notice anything unusual. How are they supposed to know the subtle changes that pop up out of nowhere?