Tuesday Toss-Up

How to Survive NaNoWriMo Without Resorting to Cannibalism

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and, if you’re anything like me, you’re waiting for it to arrive with a mixture of excitement and dread.

Cake is a meal. Right?

Most of us don’t really have time for NaNo. We make room by temporarily pushing aside non-essential activities, making a bargain with our families to offset some of our individual responsibilities and planning for the chaos as much as possible. Or we just dive in and hope for the best. Either way, we do it because, if we win, we’ll have most or all of a first draft done. That’s a pretty decent reward for a month of madness.

For my family, meals are the biggest concern during NaNo. While it’s tempting to get take-out or drive-through all month, it’s not so friendly on the budget or health.

Assuming, of course, you can make it to a fast food joint. Otherwise…

So, how do we keep ourselves and our families fed without re-enacting Super Size Me or that Stephen King short, Survivor Type (lady fingers, they taste just like lady fingers. *shudder*)

Here’s what works for my family (when we work it, anyway):

Chicken Stock

Roast up a chicken or two. Eat some for dinner and cut up the rest for sandwiches, tacos, pasta, soup, etc. Throw the bones in a stockpot or a crock pot (I prefer the crock pot because don’t have to worry about leaving the range on for so many hours) along with big chunks of carrot, onion, celery and whatever else you like (if you have the giblets, throw those in there too) and simmer for 6-12 hours.

I like to leave out the salt so I can add whatever’s needed when I use the stock in a recipe.

When it’s ready, pour the stock through a strainer to separate out the bones and veggies. You can separate out the fat with a gravy separator or cool the stock and scrape the solidified fat off the top. Then, freeze the stock in meal sized portions (I usually figure 1-2 cups per person as a recipe base).

Stock is great in homemade soup, curry, chili or in a variety of sauces.

You can also make beef or veggie stock. And, of course, canned stock works in a pinch.


Our family loves soup. I rarely use a recipe because it’s so much easier to throw in whatever I have. I usually sweat some onions first, pour in my stock, and add celery, carrots, bell pepper and whatever other veggies I have on hand. Then I’ll add meat and maybe pasta. I also add salt, pepper and any other seasonings ( Italian blend, sometimes curry powder, crushed red pepper, etc.) to taste and let it simmer until the veggies are tender.

One of our favorites is sausage and potato soup. I use spicy Italian sausage, lightly browned on the stove top and sliced or diced, baby gold potatoes, onions and any other veggies I have on hand. This recipe usually requires only a little salt and pepper and no other seasoning as the spice from the sausage really infuses the soup.

Miscellaneous Meal Tips

Stock up on your favorite pasta and jars of sauce or make your own sauce and freeze it.

Make a big batch of chili (I like to add lots of veggies such as celery, onion, red bell pepper and cherry or grape tomatoes) and freeze in meal size portions.

Stock up on burrito fixings such as beans, cheese, tortillas and salsa. Burritos are super quick and easy when you have all the fixings on hand. You can even pre-chop and pre-cook any meat, then freeze them both ahead (just be sure to allow for thawing before meal time).

Make a few freezer meals.

Every week, do all y our chopping of veggies ahead of time and stash in the fridge (or you can prep two weeks to a month ahead and freeze). That way, when meal time rolls around, you can just throw the ingredients together and go.

Starting now, make a double or triple batch of whatever you’re making for lunch/dinner and freeze the extra.

Plan a couple of pizza or take-out nights to ease the stress or enlist family and friends to do the cooking.

Shoot for 2000 words every day for 6 days and take the 7th off so you can have time to relax and/or prep for the next week.


So this is how I plan to surive NaNo. What’s in your plan?

You might also be interested in:

How Not to Starve During NaNoWriMo

15 thoughts on “How to Survive NaNoWriMo Without Resorting to Cannibalism

  1. Thanks Sonia! I’m actually really bad at getting caught up in whatever I’m going, and I end up skipping meals. But I love soup (even in the summer) so I’m going to try your soup ideas 🙂

    So you’re doing NaNo this year? A new idea or a rebel?

    1. I love, love, love soup too.

      I’m gonna do NaNo all the way this year. I’m finishing up a story plan that’s a near complete rework of the WIP I’ve been working on. I got so stuck and kept trying until I realized it really needed an overhaul. Now, only some of the core characters and most of the concept is the same. Everything else is all shiny and new (and, hopefully, more successful as a whole).

      How about you?

      1. That sounds great! Sometimes, I’ve found it easier to go forward by starting over with a blank page 🙂

        Oh boy, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff looking down lol. I didn’t have any plans to do NaNo this year, but about a week ago I got this “Brand-New-Shiny-Idea.” And we know how seductive those are o_0 Part of me wants to, but it would be totally seat of the pants – I don’t even know the main character’s name lolz. I’m just afraid of ending up with a half-finished draft – again.

        But I should do it, anyway right? *Tim waits for Sonia to nudge him off the edge into NaNo-Land* 🙂

        1. I feel you. Yesterday I was thinking that I must be nuts to join NaNo this year. We’re busier than ever on the homefront and this is definitely gonna stretch me. On the other hand, I have a full story plan and I’ve been dithering about starting the draft, so NaNo might be just the thing.

          1. Ok let’s both do NaNo! It’ll be just like when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid jump off the cliff together to almost certain death…Ok maybe that’s not the best analogy 😛

  2. What a smart idea. I should do more crockpot meals for NaNo. I love your idea of using the chicken for multiple meals. My dad did that a lot as we grew up. Smart planning.

    1. My crockpot has saved my life on more than one occassion. And since I’m kind of a cheapo but like the organic, grass-fed, yada yada yada, multitasking food wherever I can is a must.

  3. Hello Sonia. OK, I am going to try your chicken stick method. I too will use the crock pot.

    Thanks for the recipes. As for the 2000/words/day I’ll make sure that my writing partner Piper Bayard surpasses that goal. Every business partnership requires at least one productive person. Go Piper go!

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