16 Meals and Snacks To Maintain The Level Of Sad You Already Feel

1. Cereal + cream + water

An ordinary girl would see she was out of milk and go get some milk for her cereal. But you’re not an ordinary girl. You already put the cereal on your bowl, and now you find out there’s no milk. Life is unfair, just like the U.S. Government. Hot tip: what is milk if not cream with a lot of water in it???? These are the kinds of things we’re going to have to start figuring out for ourselves.

2. A handful of potato chips wrapped in a paper towel

Just a few though, not the whole bag! It doesn’t count as the whole bag if you eat it in ten mini-servings.

3. Sandwich w/one slice of bread and one bread-end

If she’d told you only bread-ends were left you would’ve gotten more bread when you stopped at the store after work, but it’s fine, because everything is. Everything is fine.

4. Condiments or spreads off a spoon, while standing up

Eating a condiment (e.g., mustard) or a spread (e.g., hummus, peanut butter) off a spoon can serve as an excellent pre-game or post-game to the potato chips. It could even be both, because you might want more paper towel potato chips soon. It’s not dead yet. Like you! Which is something.

5. Anything that tastes like bacon, besides bacon

You made bacon this morning and now everything smells like bacon! Does your cat smell like bacon? Maybe eat your cat.

6. A tiny smoothie

Watch out, ladies: it takes a village to raise a child and it takes an orchard to make a human-sized smoothie. One banana = one tablespoon of smoothie. Why? I don’t know, it defies the odds. Put an entire bucket of ice in there and see what happens. Call it “the ice bucket challenge.” Don’t worry either way, as long as you see your glass as half-full, you’ve gotten your daily allowance of optimism!

7. A failed slow-cooker experiment

Just add salt!

8. $15 Pre-wrapped Sandwich From Whole Foods

Eating a sandwich you don’t like is sad, but wasting $15 on a sandwich at Whole Foods is sadder.

9. Baked Potato & Steak 

You’re a grown woman. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want to! That’s why you should treat yourself to a grown-up meal every now and then — no — a FANCY meal! Nothing says “fancy” like a baked potato, steak and maybe some greens. But here’s the catch: somehow, this combo, which looks absolutely mouth-watering in advertisements for Sizzler et al, does not maintain its glowing appearance when you make it at home. Instead it looks like the last meal of a tragic lounge singer, eaten off a piano bench in a smoky room filled with sad people waiting to die. (Please @ me about this)

10. Dinner for Breakfast

Like breakfast for dinner, but sadder. It’s 10 AM somewhere.

11. That thing your friend made on Instagram

Last week I saw a thing Yvonne made on Instagram, which she’d also told us about already in our “virtual office,” and I thought to myself “that looks good, you should —” and then I stopped talking to myself before I said “try to make that” because I am a self-aware and realistic person, in touch with all my faults and limitations.

12. That thing your ex used to make

See above: know your limitations.

13. Anything that died on the line, especially if it was your fault

This one’s for all my servers out there eyeing that sweet dish dying on the end of the line, waiting for the perfect moment to slip it into a to-go box and hide in the walk-in freezer to eat it before your armpit sweat turns to ice. BRRRR. Or you could bring it home, although once I did that with a P-SHRIMP at the Mac Grill and ended up with the worst food poisoning of my life. I won’t give you the details because it would be off-brand for me as the person who does not enjoy toilet-related conversations, but just imagine the worst, okay?

14. 3-4 beige/light orange items on the same plate, from the freezer

Some ideas: chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, crispy egg rolls, off-brand tater tots, mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers. I could go on; but must I? We both know what the deal is here.

15. Anything for sale in Terminal 6 of the Los Angeles Airport

We all know that Los Angeles is the city of dreams, but we also know that a place where dreams can live is also a place where dreams can die. For example: Terminal 6. Specifically, that “Farmer’s Market” is no Farmer’s Market friend of mine. There’s nothing there for you unless you want to eat somebody else’s carry-on. It’s never a bad idea to have a Lara Bar in your back pocket. They named it after a woman for a reason.

16. A plate of spaghetti, a mug of coffee, 1.5 broken-up rolls and a handful of pills, using your toilet as a table.

This wasn’t my idea actually, I found it on shutterstock and can’t stop thinking about it.

Although TBH if this was me, the mug would be full of white wine

Actually this would make you feel worse than you already feel, because you also can’t use the bathroom. So definitely don’t do this. Maybe have these cashews or these marshmallows instead, and then you’ll feel much better than you felt when you woke up this morning, afraid of never having health insurance again.


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Riese is the 35-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2434 articles for us.

131 Comments

  1. Marshmallows when you have no chocolate milk.
    Maybe try to sprinkle cocoa powder on top, because you’re forever and always out of milk and too sad to ever get out of the house and get some and too sad to remember to pick up some milk when you ARE already out of the house, but I digress.
    Sprinkle cocoa powder meant for baking on top of those marshmallows out of desperation and then realize that life really is bitter after all.

    P.S.: Lifehack for people incapable of adulting: Oatmeal. If you’re out of everything just dump it into a pot with some water and cook it for a few minutes and then call it porridge, which is an actual thing, like a meal. You can then dump anything sweet on top, like honey, maple syrup,sugar, or those canned strawberries you bought two,three, maybe thirteen years ago (ok, whoever lived here before you did) , and it’s like totally valid.
    If you don’t have anything to pour on top, just eat it like that and pretend you’re on a diet.
    Shit that tastes like sodden cardboard is entirely the norm for any and all diets, which means it’s not depressing at all.

    P.P.S.: This post speaks to me on so many levels, thank you, Riese.

  2. My #1 depression meal: microwaved sweet potato stuffed with cheese

    Takes less than 10 minutes (depends on how strong your microwave is/how large your sweet potato is), can eat it wrapped in a paper towel (so no dishes beyond a knife you probably should clean but don’t necessarily have to), and has protein, fat, (some) carbs, and is mostly a vegetable.

    That plus chocolate was my standard depression dinner, and I managed to continue being a fairly competitive athlete during that period despite my inability to do basic tasks for myself. I cannot recommend this meal enough if you also cannot do basic tasks for yourself but are trying to eat reasonably cheaply and healthfully!

    (Also ate a decent amount of straight cereal + water but microwaved to make it more oatmealy and with peanut butter to make it more substantial. would have added cream if I had it!)

    So yup. This piece speaks to me too.

    • actual question: how do you prepare this? i did some googling and found conflicting instructions for sweet potatoes in the microwave. wet paper towel or just on plate? and what sort of cheese did you use? thank you for giving an actually solid option I see others in the comments also asking for concrete depression-proof recipes and ideas.

      • not my comment, obviously, but I love a good microwaved sweet potato. what I do is stab it about 15 times with a fork (if you dont do this is will explode and you will be sadder because now you have to clean the microwave.) then microwave it for like two minutes, turn it over, two minutes, turn it over, etc until you can easily slide a knife all the way through. then you can cut it in half and shove in cheese. I think pretty much all cheese is good, but special shout out to sharp cheddar which is a nice contrast in flavors and gets delightfully gooey, and to left over ricotta which is lovely and creamy and nutty.

        • Thank you bea for responding!

          Yup – I stab it a bunch of times. (I stab with a knife like 6-10 times but fork 15 times also works!) Then I just stick it in the microwave for 6-10 minutes depending on size. I do not flip it over though that sounds smart to do. I also do not put a paper towel down though that also sounds smart to do.

          Then I cut pieces of cheese (any hard cheese will do – I buy whatever’s on sale though I tend to favor white sharp cheddar or swiss) and stick them in the holes I already cut. (I also tend to make the holes bigger sometimes.) (Like 1-2 inches long, 1/4-1/2 inch think little slices of cheese.) I just stick the sweet potato with lots of little pieces of cheese until I can’t fit any more in. Then I wrap it in a paper towel (or dish towel if I’m out of paper towels) and start eating from the part where I put the first piece in (which should be nice and melty at that point) and just kind of eat it like an apple.

          I also eat the skin. I know not everyone is into sweet potato skin but I think it’s fine and it’s good for you. also you should probably wash the sweet potato if you’re eating the skin, but I always skip that step.

          BAM: delicious and semi healthy and takes near zero effort and involves near zero clean up. You can also eat in bed really easily!

          (I discovered this when I had a bad injury that meant I was in pain every time I did something other than lying down for a couple weeks so finding foods I could eat while lying in bed was key. then I got depressed like I always do after bad injuries, and this ‘recipe’ continued to be well-used.)

  3. FAKE NEWS indeed! Dinner for breakfast is way, way better than breakfast for dinner! My days start off stronger when I eat real food first thing in the morning instead of the bland, sorry excuse that passes for “breakfast food.” Just saying!

  4. I didn’t identify with this at all and then I realized that for lunch today I actually did eat those exact cashews Laneia apparently recommended seven years ago as well as a bunch of cheese-its. I’m not sad though just too busy and terrible at the time management necessary for packing lunch.

    I was going to recommend dried beans as the perfect simple meal (you don’t actually need to soak them it’s a myth, and they’re very good cooked with olive oil or butter and then some kind of spicy sauce added, and you can make a batch once by baking them in the oven for a few hours and then eat them for a few days), but realistically my wife makes those and it’s not that they’re actually easy, she just says they are because it’s easy for her to be a together person. Left to my own devices I apparently eat cheese-its and cashews. That said, I feel great, so.

    (still, beans are a pretty low-bar cheap and extremely tasty meal, and it’s very easy to heat up a small pot of these once they’re cooked and you can even add a little bit of spinach or something else green and feel like you’re really taking care of yourself. I assume this is what my wife does, except she also adds some butter or olive oil, and don’t bother with the garlic etc but do add something spicy at the end: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-beans-in-the-oven-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-102908)

  5. You have one wedge of fancy cheese left over from last week’s inspired trip to the specialty foods shop. There’s nothing else left to have with it – no dips or spreads or imported olives or even a few broken crackers from the bottom of a bag – so you eat it on its own. Because it’s special and delicious, and you love cheese, right? At least it’s better than that one time in college when you had rice cakes and ketchup for dinner. You’re more refined now. You’re an adult. You’re practically French, eating cheese and only cheese like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Just one pungent, dense, crumbly mouthful after another. After another. After another. This is ok! This is good! It’s cheese! Cheese is your favourite thing!! EVERYTHING IS GREAT!! NOTHING AT ALL IS WRONG WITH YOUR LIFE!!!!

  6. This is SO REAL.

    When you try to circumvent the terrible meals by “treating yourself” and end up with a dry-ass burger, wilted lettuce and moist meally limp fries, just know that your world is consistent and get your satisfaction from that.

    • frozen fruit, if worst comes to worst you can just put some in a bowl and wait for it to melt.

      peanut butter crackers, I call these ‘calorie bombs’ but I mean it in the ‘my body needs fuel and I cant think about food so lets just shove something in my mouth and hope for the best’ way.

      • seconding frozen fruit and dark chocolate! also frozen veggies. putting a loaf of bread in the freezer too. lots of peanut butter and cans of beans. hot sauce. frozen meals/veggie burgers if those aren’t too pricey.

        basically anything you can eat without any prep and/or just by sticking it in the microwave and that won’t go bad quickly. plus hot sauce for when the above food gets boring.

    • Seconding frozen meals! I try to keep some of the Amy’s brand bowls on hand cuz they make stuff like frozen brown rice and veggies and frozen curries and things that feel sort of healthy? Also just bags of frozen vegetables that can be microwaved are great with sriracha and tamari. Canned tuna. The “done in one minute” microwaveable rice things that you can add your frozen veggies to. Dried fruit and trail mix.

    • I managed to snap out of it enough to splurge on $140 worth of self-care type food (including cashews!) this in the last 12 hours, in addition to my usual frugal weekly groceries ($50 per week at the budget place).
      I’m enjoying my snacks and feel less malnourished physically and mentally heh. THANKS AUTOSTRADDLE.

  7. Sometimes I make pasta and I know if I just had the energy to get the good cheese out of the fridge and grate it, I’d be a little better off. BUT the oil and pepper are right there on the counter and I just want to be back in bed… so I end up trying to eat my very plain pasta wishing I had some cheese on it but not enough to walk to the kitchen to get the cheese I had already given into not having.

    Sometimes I force myself to eat the pasta I think I deserve.

  8. Honestly, I have to admit my go-to depression red flag is when I re-download Postmates and order it three nights in a row and then delete the app in an attempt to feel better and force myself to cook something. I swear I’m like a fucking depressed cartoon character with my Postmates abuse.

  9. Ah yup, this is so accurate it’s scary. I’ve given up trying to really cook and now my goal is not always resorting to takeout or a bag of chips. This from someone who would consider herself a foodie under better, less depressing circumstances.

  10. I’ve been thinking of trying something not gross, just incongruous (like bleu cheese and carrots on a bagel, maybe?) as a way to trick my brain into thinking I’m still dreaming and the Trump presidency isn’t real.

    otherwise just a regular spoonful of honey, please.

  11. Sad is:
    Spending all evening making fried pickles, but having no ranch.

    Missing your favorite flavor of TVP…

    Opening all the veggie cans you have in the pantry, stuffing your veggie burrito too full so it leaks all over the only pair of clean pants you have, and then crying while you eat it with a fork and flat can of diet coke.

  12. I eat dinner for breakfast like every damn day. Lol. Today I woke up and made myself a sandwich with vegan cheese, sausage and mayo, because I’m a monster.

  13. I don’t know what to eat for dinner tonight, but I do know that if I eat stir-fried riced cauliflower, spinach, and mushrooms with an egg on top with salt, pepper and avocado oil for ONE MORE NIGHT I might throw up.

    It was so good two weeks ago when I started eating it. And I’ve just been making it like every day since then. SAVE ME

  14. My depression meals are ramen with frozen peas, potato chips and cocoa almonds. And lots of delivery food. Pretty much what I ate all winter long.

    One easy meal that is still somewhat healthy is spaghetti with canned white beans, a few spoonfuls of pasta sauce and a splash of half and half. You can add spinach if you’re fancy.

  15. Baked beans straight from the tin to save washing up. To be eaten with a fork (because there are never any clean spoons) one bean at a time, that way it lasts as long as any meal and you don’t realise so quickly how empty you are inside. Plus it’s one of your 5 a day so there’s that.

    You inevitably cut your lip or tongue trying to get that last bit of sauce out of the tin, because this time you’re sure you’ll get it without injury despite previous experience. That cut will be sore and act as a reminder that you should have just washed up a spoon but dammit you weren’t the one that used them all. Or that’s what I’ve found anyway.

  16. Nobody eat a cat 🙁 (I know it’s a joke but #notfunny for us cat fans! ;))
    I have snacks when my body has fallen so tired that I lie in and it’s 10:00 or later by time I have breakfast. And micro pizzas if I don’t finish my mornings work til 14:00.
    Idk/idc that I’m being a traitor for saying this on a mostly American site. Big breakfasts = dinner for breakfast. I really like them but only in late afternoon. If I have loads of meat, eggs and potatoes first thing then I feel bloated and sick all day.

    Trigger warning: mental illness/irrational fears of disasters
    I’ve never had actual depression but I’ve had/got actual anxiety issues. In the midst of it, I got really good at knowing what microwave food & cold food I like cos I felt for sure that if I cooked something on the hob/in the oven I’d cause a fire. Thankfully that fear’s over with.

  17. Ramen.
    Except that you haven’t had anything remotely nutritional today and you feel guilty for hurting your body on tip of feeling sad so you sigh heavily while chopping up some mushrooms and green onions and dump a tin of tuna into your noodles along with the veggies and, oh, that’s actually kind of pretty but whatever it’s still just ramen.

    • I put handfuls of pre chopped bagged kale in my ramen and it’s actually delicious and I tell myself that it’s totally soaking up some of the unhealthfulness. That’s how it works, right?

  18. If cooking is like painting and you are depressed and have nothing left in the pantry and or fridge. Then instead of painting a masterpiece in the Sistine chapel. you would be painting a cheap watercolor picture for a seedy hotel room.

  19. 1)

    Frozen mashed potato + frozen peas + instant gravy in a disposable takeaway container. I put the mash in the microwave by itself for a minute, mix it, and shove it to one side with a plastic spoon. Then I put the gravy powder in the other side and add water/mix. Then I dump the frozen peas into the gravy and microwave the whole thing for about 3 minutes or until the peas are cooked. Switch out peas for other types of frozen veg if needed.

    2)
    Microwave vegie bake. Disposable takeaway container. Layer of frozen veg topped by a layer of frozen potato bake mix, fresh pepper on top if feeling adventurous. Microwave 5ish minutes or until potatos on top are done. Mix. Eat.

    3)
    Lentil ‘curry’. Microwavable rice that comes in a pouch, cook for 1 minute, add some canned lentils and some frozen broccoli or whatever seems right, microwave for 3 minutes.

    4)
    ‘fried rice’ same as #3 but no lentils. add i teaspoon of oil before microwaving, also soy sauce or chilli sauce if you have it. Mix.

    5)
    Pumpkin soup. Frozen pumpkin + 3 tablespoons ish of water/milk/cream. Microwave 4 minutes, stir/smoosh with spoon until smoothish. Salt etc if cbf.

    6)
    ‘fancy’ spinach pasta. Instant pasta of any kind, cook as per instructions, add frozen spinach and microwave another 2 minutes.

    7) babyfood in squeezie pouches, usually better unheated.

    Why yes I do have a large stack of disposable takeaway containers and cutlery in my house because I loathe doing dishes/reasons.

  20. Autostraddle gets me in a way no other site does <3

    My depression food:
    Cheese. Maybe with leftover dried end of the baguette if it hasn't turned to a rock.
    More cheese.
    A slice of jamón with more cheese.
    Consider eating the one lonely satsuma or juicing one lonely orange to actually consume some vitamins.
    Decide it's too much effort and pour a glass of wine/beer/rum/vodka
    Remember Marmite has some vitamins in it so just eat some of that washed down with aforementioned alcohol.

    • this is actually the only real solution. A person in the depressed queer’s life that can recognize and respond to the need for a care package without judgement or requiring some unwelcome conversation about “how are uuuuuuuu”.

  21. I poured taco seasoning over Kraft mac and cheese for “variety” the other day.

    Also, a great thing about stale bread is that it doesn’t taste (as) stale if you toast it.

    Also, eating six string cheese is OK if it’s the Weight Watchers brand. It’s fine. Just… like… everything… else.

  22. All these comments are making me think:
    1. I have never been so glad that cooking real food is my therapy.

    2. There is a gap for a food delivery service specifically catering to dejected queers. Potential company names:

    – Depressaroo
    – Thrifty Meals for Lonely Lesbians (incidentally if I wrote a cookery book it would be called this)
    – Heavy-Hearted Homo Deliveries

  23. I see you’ve left out my favorite depression (and low-spoon) meals:

    Popcorn

    Avocadoes and tostitos fajita flavored tortilla chips (so you can fool yourself into thinking you’re eating guac)

    Hummus and baby carrots for 3 days straight

    frozen fruit, still frozen (so you can fool yourself into thinking you’re eating ice cream bc you can’t actually afford ice cream and you already have frozen fruit in the freezer)

    More popcorn (seriously probably 1 meal a day is popcorn because it’s easy to make, minimal/no cleanup, and because I have a stove popcorn popper it’s actually reasonably healthy to eat (and I need to eat a lot of salt bc of low BP but don’t really like salty things but you can really salt up popcorn without being like “ew yuck salt” so win-win))

  24. Depression meals I’ve “made” in the last week:
    -tortilla chips and off-brand salsa from the back of the fridge
    -tortilla chips and hummus.
    -burnt rice drenched in lime juice so it wouldn’t taste burnt which didn’t work, with -really bland refried beans and half a bag of shredded cheese
    -stale ginger cookies
    -the licorice jelly beans leftover in the bag from easter that was sitting on my nightstand, because i was too lazy to go downstairs and face the effort of putting something in a pot/microwave and boiling/torching it.
    -and, my favorite, just an entire sleeve of ritz crackers. no moderation. no toppings. just (maybe stale, kind of crumbling) ritz crackers.

  25. Oh yeah and whenever I think of that certain someone I go for irn bru cos I link it w him & how he bought it for me.

    I hate having such extreme mixed feelings about someone I want to/should hate. I met him in between now-then & he tried chatting me up so clearly still lusts after me which doesn’t help. And I still kind of do back but i know it’s really not healthy… I know that enough that after he chatted me up I bolted. Ive seen him just that once since. It’s more just that he isn’t totally out of my ‘positive’ thoughts in solo sessions.

    I wish this was just our thing. It’s weird how we still have my favourite stuff in common but I won’t give my favourite (cultural) stuff up for his sake.

    Can you tell this is one of those nights lol…

    Oh & feeling really (trans) masc right now but gay/bi. My gender/sexuality fluctuates like that…

    Genuinely not sure if this is bad to say & this time I do care.

    • Really not sure I should’ve said something about this this publicly. Can ppl figure out my email from this cos if so please delete.
      If not then I’ll keep as I actually would like to vent. So long as ppl realise this is one experience & I’ve had lots of good ones with ppl who share all the same cultural/trivial stuff. Myself for one. Life is messy. You can’t sum up a whole group of ppl by just a few.

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