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Exactly How Much One Bad Case Of The Flu Cost Me


I’ve just come out of a seven day haze of snot, tissues and coughing fits. It was not fun. I woke up on a Sunday morning with a scratchy throat, but put it down to a few too many champagnes the night before. I tried to brush it off, as we had lunch planned with my family in a few hours. But by the end of lunch, my nose was running, and by the time we arrived home, I was done. I took some cold and flu tablets, sat on the couch, and was out like a light. I woke up a few hours later to watch some Sunday night TV, before promptly conking out again.

I headed into work Monday morning to divert urgent work to my boss, and a few hours later, I headed back to the couch, where I basically stayed for the next few days. The thing is, though, I was entirely unprepared for this illness, and I usually do our grocery shopping Sunday afternoon and cook throughout the week. So Monday night, my husband came home and asked what’s for dinner. I know…you’re totally giving him side-eye too, right? He managed to cobble together a dinner of two-minute noodles.

The the next night, he came home and asked what’s for dinner. Again, I gave him side eye, so he went and ordered fish and chips.

The next day, I was getting sick of eating stale sandwiches and takeout, so I dragged myself off the couch to visit the doctor and get some groceries. One stronger set of drugs later, and grocery shopping done at the more expensive supermarket because I didn’t have the energy to visit the green grocer and butcher separately, and I decided I was lacking in nutrition, so I stopped by the expensive juice place to get myself a green juice. After a fairly carb-heavy diet, I expected that first sip to be a dream. Instead, it tasted like nothing.

I finally dragged myself back to work on Thursday, but the sandwich I planned for lunch just wasn’t appealing. So I headed out to get myself dumplings. I still couldn’t taste anything, but I felt better for it, because I clearly wanted to consume salt.

On Friday, I headed into work again, but it is clear I have relapsed. So I went home at lunch time, stopping at Costco to stock up on essentials ahead of the weekend, but instead of eating my prepared lunch, I grabbed a hot meal instead. I then fell asleep for the rest of the afternoon. Saturday morning, I had to leave the house to vote in our local election. We went out for brunch afterwards, because I couldn’t be bothered preparing anything. Later in the day, I had to head into the city for a regular appointment, and afterwards I decided to stop by another expensive juice place to get a smoothie that, thankfully, does take like it was advertised. On Sunday, I summon my remaining energy to do my weekly grocery shopping, but again I am too tired to visit the green grocer and butcher, so the costs mount up.

By Monday morning at work, the fog around my brain starts to lift and I feel better — albeit it takes a few days for all of my energy to come back.

So at the end of all this, the sickness budget blow out totals $20 for takeout, $22 for medications, $10 for one overpriced green juice that I couldn’t taste, and $15 more in groceries for being too lazy. $9 for dumplings because I didn’t want my sandwich, and $15 for lunch because I was feeling sorry for myself. $45 for brunch because I was lazy, and $12 (yes, you read that right) for a delicious smoothie. And one more visit to the expensive supermarket added an extra $20 in grocery costs. The total cost of one bad sick week, over and above regularly weekly expenses: $168.

I know I should feel bad about this laziness…but I just don’t. I know that is not necessarily what you want to hear on a budgeting site. But I was honestly in such a world of hurt, snot and haze, that all I wanted was my meals prepared for me, and someone to stroke my back.

But I have learned something: the importance of having some go-to meals in the freezer for those unexpected occasions. Whether when you are sick, too tired to cook, or short on time, a well-stocked freezer will save you from budget blow-outs, and husbands who ask you what’s for dinner.

Tell me, do you keep your freezer well stocked? What are your go-to freezer meals?

By day, Sarah is a mild-mannered marketer from Melbourne, Australia. By night she enjoys long walks in the park with her puppy Bessie and bad TV with her husband Ben.

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  • Summer

    My husband and I have the tiniest freezer imaginable and it’s only used for ice cubes, the occasional pint of gelato, and maybe some we-just-bought-these-and-will-be-eating-them-tonight dumplings. So, there’s no room for storing anything. But having some pasta on hand, along with a couple varieties of jarred sauces that you can quickly “pimp” with additional spices, a sauteed onion or shallots, splash of cream or white wine, etc, can be that to-go meal when you don’t feel like cooking and really don’t want to spend money on takeout. Of course there’s no guarantee you’ll be in the mood for pasta (or whatever is in your freezer, for that matter), but it helps to at least have the option available.

  • Stephanie Shaw

    Frozen lasagna! Just pop it in the oven for 45 minutes and it’s done. Not the most appetizing thing when you’re sick, but easy and around 5$ at Walmart.