Food suggestions for a sore throat
December 21, 2012 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Okay, this is a bad time to be without money and there's nothing I can really do to change that immediately. I am on assistance. I have food stamps that can buy only food stuff. Because of last minute car repairs and things like extra gas for appointments that I couldn't miss with government agencies, I have zero on the cash assistance (non-food side of food stamps). I slowly developed a cold today. It's just a cold. Sore throat, coughing, running nose and headache. I have Tylenol for the headache, but my throat is killing me and coughing keeps adding to the burn. There's no money for non-food cough/throat stuff. No cough drops or meds. What can I buy that is a food item that can make my throat feel less like it's been scraped with a brillo pad with each cough.

I have pots and pans and a microwave, so I can cook something.

Don't say go to the hospital or walk in clinic. Car repairs mean that car is dead right now. No go. State transport takes me to workfirst stuff only, unless I'm dying. I'm not dying, I have a cold. I can get the food stuff with the shelters group outing on Sunday.

Food suggestions?

Also, before it's asked by generous people, no I don't want your money. I can take care of myself. I just need food suggestions.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (49 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
posted by tristeza at 8:34 AM on December 21, 2012 [13 favorites]

Tea with honey? Also, a salt water gargle with warm water acts as an antiseptic. Good luck, and be well.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:35 AM on December 21, 2012 [20 favorites]

Lemon juice, honey, orange juice, tea.

Tea can be had with the honey or lemon juice. Lemon juice can be drunk as lemonade, either cold or hot lemonade. Orange juice is good on its own. Honey can also be consumed on its own.

They also make a couple different kinds of medicinal herbal teas you can find in supermarkets, that are good for soothing sore throats - look for something that has an herb called "slippery elm bark" in it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yep, hot water with honey and lemon. And sleep.
posted by Specklet at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hot water with lots of lemon and honey. If you're like me and a cold kills your appetite, mugs of chicken broth to keep your energy level up.
posted by availablelight at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Honey in tea! Lots of fluids-- broth, or a creamy soup, etc. Orange juice might be too acidic, but there might be another thicker juice that wouldn't aggravate it?

Good luck, and feel better.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:41 AM on December 21, 2012

"Throat coat" tea and honey.
posted by zippy at 8:43 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, tea and honey.

Can your EBT/foodstamps pay for hard candy? (I think this varies by state?) Any hard candy will work more or less the same as a cough drop (coats the throat, stimulates saliva production).
posted by Wretch729 at 8:47 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Like Zippy says, I like "Throat Coat" tea (this stuff). It's licorice based, and apparently not everyone likes that, but I find it tasty and super helpful for a sore throat. Honey may also add to the soothing.
posted by Vorteks at 8:49 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup, I've used the "throat coat" tea (usually around $4 per box at the supermarket or Target) and it's wonderful for soothing a sore throat. If that's too costly then honey + lemon in hot water will also work, although it doesn't seem to numb the throat to the same degree.
posted by iminurmefi at 8:49 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes to honey, tea, lemon, and hard candy. Also note that the Tylenol you have will help ease the sore throat pain as well as your headache.
posted by thatone at 8:49 AM on December 21, 2012

Ooh, chicken broth! Yes, that's another good one. Even just chicken bouillon cubes or packets of instant soup.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:50 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

As others have said
Tea with honey and lemon.
Mix a little salt with water and gargle, don't swallow it though.

Some broth, or broth based soups to drink for the protein, if you can afford to throw a little chicken or veggies in there all the better. Chicken soup is a famous cure all for a reason. I've been really broke and managed on bullion cubes in hot water to sooth my throat with and if nothing else it psychologically helped as it "felt" like I was drinking soup.
posted by wwax at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2012

Honey, lemon and tea for the throat, and chicken noodle soup for the cold.
posted by Liesl at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2012

Oh, and Tang is great and soothing if you make it with hot water. Sounds disgusting, but it is very effective.
posted by thatone at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

+1 on the warm salt water gargle. Do about half a glass worth every hour or two, and it should help reduce the swelling a bit.
posted by maxim0512 at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Honey, yes, both on its own or in hot water with lemon.

Hot tomato juice + lemon + minced raw garlic + hot sauce. Cayenne does have legitimate medicinal properties and will clear your sinuses, so go crazy with it. Raw garlic too, and in this recipe you can't really taste it.

For meals: Ramen + greens (frozen spinach is probably the cheapest) topped with fried eggs and hot sauce.

The apple cider vinegar gargle remedy seriously works. Honestly it is better than any drugs I've tried for a sore throat. Be sure to get the unpasteurized stuff with "mother", like Braggs.

You can also do postural drainage with a heating pad (which can just be microwaved dry rice in a sock).

Feel better soon!
posted by susanvance at 8:52 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

My understanding is that the post nasal drip is what causes the tissues to dry out, coating them and keeping them from being hydrated. The hot water helps get that stuff moving off of the tissues and adds moisture.

I'm telling you this because I find that thinking about this mechanism while drinking helps me feel better faster when this happens to me. Hope you feel better fast!
posted by Infinity_8 at 8:53 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

As others have said, tea with honey & lemon.

Chicken broth or soup.

If your sinuses are acting up, hot & sour soup (it does wonders for me when I get bronchitis every year and everything in my lungs wants to come out my nose).

Iced pops. The cold is good on a sore throat.

Gargle with salt water.

Do a nasal saline rinse, you don't need a neti pot but you will need a bulb syringe (don't know what equipment you have):

Boil some water, put a towel over your head, and breathe in the steam.

Sleep. Lots of sleep.
posted by sandraregina at 8:54 AM on December 21, 2012

I agree with Admiral Haddock about the warm salt water gargle. I suggest you gargle with warm salt water every few hours to sooth the irritation keep it from getting any worse. Drink lots of water. Also agree with the clear broth. I personally like popsicles for a sore throat. It feels good, but I don't know if it helps to heal faster. Good luck!
posted by samsaunt at 8:57 AM on December 21, 2012

Ginger, lemon and honey tea. Note: no actual tea leaves used.

Everyone forgets the ginger. Try a piece that's about the size of the palm of your hand. Scrub it well or peel it and then cut it up into fairly thin pieces. Boil the ginger in water in a pot until it's fairly strong. I start with about 4 to 6 cups of water (amount of water dependant on the amount of ginger) and boil it until 1/3 of the water's gone. "Strong" is pretty subjective, but it should be a fair amount of ginger and it should be hot (like spicy hot) when you drink it.

Add lemon juice (in a pint glass, I'll add about 1/3 to 1/2 the juice from one lemon, depending on how juicy the lemon is. You could use the pre-squeezed juice but it's not the same. But... it's also winter, so you take what you can get.) Add honey. A tablespoon or more, because yum.

The ginger will help your throat and the spicy heat will warm you up like crazy and probably make your nose run too, which usually helps, the lemon for the vitamin C and immune system boost and lemony goodness and the honey as another immune system booster and it stops the rest of it from being undrinkable.

Also, when you get money, buy Nin Jiom. It is pure, concentrated awesome and will stop your cough for hours using nothing but herbs and honey.
posted by Zack_Replica at 8:57 AM on December 21, 2012 [18 favorites]

Honey, lemon, and tea are great, but there's something missing from those suggestions.... ginger! It's always been cheapest for me to purchase ginger at an asian grocery store, if you have one nearby.

Those four things together will taste great and help your throat. And you can mix or match different combinations of those ingredients and still wind up with a tasty, helpful drink.

Do you have any brandy, or a friend who has brandy? I wouldn't suggest getting drunk, but a single, bracing hot toddy can sometimes make you feel better when you're sick, which helps with everything, without causing any harm as long as you don't overdue it. Hot water, brandy, and some lemon makes a good drink. Spices like cloves and cinnamon are optional. Everyone seems to do hot toddys differently, so just go where your heart takes you.

When I have a sore throat, I sometimes gargle hydrogen peroxide mixed with water (50/50) in the morning and the evening. You may have some in your house; if not, a friend almost certainly does. I doubt it would hurt, even if it doesn't help with your precise condition. Be sure not to swallow any.

Try to eat thin brothy soups, too. Or hell, just drink broth and eat bread for most meals until you're feeling better. Liquid warmth of any kind helps soothe the throat, in my experience.
posted by jsturgill at 8:59 AM on December 21, 2012

Warm milk with honey mixed in it. Sounds gross, tastes pretty good, extremely soothing.
posted by phunniemee at 9:13 AM on December 21, 2012

Throat Coat tea, or anything else with slippery elm. tastes like ass, works like magic. Honey, fresh ginger, lemon; these you can combine with hot water.

Can you buy spices with food stamps? If you can, then turmeric, cayenne, and orange juice; a quarter tsp of turmeric, an eighth of a tsp of cayenne, mix with hot orange juice and drink fast.
posted by KathrynT at 9:15 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

For chicken broth: Wyler's chicken granules are much tastier than the cubes. Put some butter in and it's more like yummy soup. If you want to make it even more like real soup, get it hot and then crack an egg in and stir it around to make egg drop soup. I've put mushrooms and spinach and noodles in, too. Also, soy sauce, a bit of sugar and some sriracha. I also have a sore throat and have been making a lot of mugs of soup.
posted by artychoke at 9:24 AM on December 21, 2012

Traditional Medicines makes a couple of different teas to treat cold symptoms. They make Throat Coat and Gypsy Cold Care. Both are excellent. I want to say they have a pack that has three different kinds of cold care teas included but I couldn't find evidence of that with a quick search.

If I had to choose, I'd pick their Gypsy Cold Care. It works really well, almost as well as taking straight up cold medicine.

Some of the above recommendations are great. In particular, I'd pick up some honey, lemon, and apple cider vinegar if I was in your position. Grab some cayenne pepper from the spice aisle too!

You can make this stuff. It's got a . . . difficult taste until you get used to it. But it works wonders.
posted by dchrssyr at 9:26 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wretch729  Can your EBT/foodstamps pay for hard candy? (I think this varies by state?) Any hard candy will work more or less the same as a cough drop (coats the throat, stimulates saliva production).

And you can sometimes find menthol-flavored hard candy drops or rolls of mints in the candy aisle. Menthol is the same stuff in cough drops that has a cooling, slightly numbing (but potentially irritating, if you eat too many drops) effect. You can't buy menthol cough drops with stamps, but you can buy menthol candy drops and mints.

If the bag of candy drops or roll of mints doesn't have a "Drug Facts" or "Supplement Facts" label on it, it should be okay for stamps. You might be able to find mentholated candies in the candy bulk bins, sometimes they're blue-colored drops individually wrapped in cellophane. (I assume candy from bulk bins is eligible, but I don't know for sure.)
posted by hat at 9:27 AM on December 21, 2012

You can make hard candy, eh? Adding whatever you like for extra cough-droppiness. Google around; plenty of recipes.
posted by kmennie at 9:31 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recommend avoiding milk, actually. It'll just make your body crank out more snot. Nthing tea and honey, or even just warm water with honey mixed in.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:33 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

What can I buy that is a food item that can make my throat feel less like it's been scraped with a brillo pad with each cough.

All you need is a mug of hot water.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:45 AM on December 21, 2012

I had a brutal cold with sore throat last week. I mixed 1 tablespoon of honey with 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a mug. I then added hot (not boiling) water to fill the mug halfway. Gargling a tablespoon or so of this really helped sooth my throat. It's a little explosive (in a spicy way) when it's warm. My method was to take a large tablespoon while standing over the sink, gargle and spit out as often as needed. sometimes I'd swallow some just to really get the back of my throat- you can sip it as a tea if so inclined. I also drank ginger tea which is good for body aches- best made with some chopped ginger, but powedered dry ginger works too. Heat water, add as much ginger as you can stand, let steep for 10 minutes or more and add honey and lemon to taste.

I also kept a pot of water with cloves simmering on the stove as a humidifier. Set a timer so it doesn't boil dry.

Also: salsa, good for sore throats. I ate it with celery sticks, but obviously you can eat chips.
Some people like garlic, haven't found it does much for me but it's usually in salsa.
pineapple is also good for sore throats, fresh especially but canned is helpful too.
Salt water gargles have worked when I was desperate and had nothing else.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:48 AM on December 21, 2012

Oh yeah, seconding Traditional Medicinal teas. I was sick to death of herbal tea by the time I moved out of my parent's house, but theirs are really nice. I also like the Gypsy Cold Care and Throat Coat, but my cayenne tea insanity does a better job of soothing the rawness, while the Throat Coat is nice to hold and sip.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:51 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fill your bathroom sink with the hottest water you can get from your faucet. Put your face as close to it as you can handle, and then drape a bath towel over your head to trap the steam. Breathe in the steam for as long as you can stand it. The humidity with soothe your throat a bit, hydrate you, and help clear out your nose, sinuses. You can do this as often as you like, if it makes you feel better.

I'm really sorry you're not feeling well, and I hope you get better soon!
posted by decathecting at 9:58 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

My partner makes this thing when she has a sore throat involving honey, lemon juice, ginger, cayenne powder, and garlic. I don't know where she got the recipe but it's basically as if she just makes a syrup using all the ingredients on this page and then sort of gargles with it. I've never tried it myself (I don't get a lot of sore throats and it smells kinda gross) but she says it works beautifully.
posted by Scientist at 9:58 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Applesauce is very soothing, especially if it's very cold, with the added bonus of being actual food.
posted by anaelith at 10:07 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm also of the honey, lemon & ginger group, but I also use hibiscus tea... like hibiscus tea with honey, and ginger. It tastes fruity and tart which can penetrate even a stuffed nose and dulled taste buds, and has lots of vitamin C... but if you suffer from low blood pressure you probably should avoid, as it is said to reduce blood pressure.

As for other food stuff, I always mention this, but my husband makes me lemon rice when I'm sick, and it's always just the right thing. For this, you just boil short grain rice in boiling water with the lid off the pan (you can add the rice and water at the same time), with some olive oil and lemon juice – as much lemon juice as you want, add the lemon juice closer to the end. I think he does a cup of rice, a couple cups of water plus a little more, a tablespoon+ of olive oil, and the juice of one lemon. This is really, really soothing for some reason.

For chicken soup (the feed-a-cold soup!), I personally must have Greek chicken soup when I have a cold. Looking online for recipes, I'm a bit aghast at what I find, so I'll just link to this super easy/fast one (you're sick, and probably don't feel like fussing about making soup that much), but have to say, "Orzo? What? No. Wrong. Rice.", but also just give you the quick and dirty recipe for Totally Real, Not Super Fast Yet Still Pretty Damn Easy And Whoah Delicious Actual Greek Chicken Soup:

Put a leg/thigh piece and a breast (or two leg/thigh pieces, but that gets fatty, and we're sick and don't feel like skimming) in a soup pot with a bunch of water and boil until the meat falls off the bone. Remove the chicken pieces, strip the meat from the bones, throw the bones away, and put the meat back in the broth on low heat, and toss in some rice (1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on how much rice you want in there), add your salt and pepper. Squeeze a lemon and set the juice aside. In a cereal bowl, whip up one or two eggs using a fork or whisk (two eggs = creamier; I use two average-sized eggs, not extra large) until frothy and, while still whipping, dribble the lemon juice slowly in until it's all completely mixed in. Check the rice in the broth. If it's done, you can go ahead to the critical and important step: adding the avgo/lemono (egg/lemon).

The important thing is not to dump the egg/lemon into the too-hot broth and create accidental egg drop soup, so, you do this: add a tablespoon of hot broth to the cereal bowl of frothy egg/lemon, mix it in well. Now another, mix well. And another, blend blend. And you keep doing this until the temperature of the egg/lemon mix is about the same as the broth on the stove, at which point you add the whole egg/lemon/broth mix into the soup (which, as you remember, is on low heat) stirring all the while. You must make little kissy sounds as you do this, like the way some people make kissy sounds to their pets? Like that. It's apparently very important, and since the Greek chicken soup is delicious, we don't want to ruin it all by not making kissy sounds.

I hope you feel much better soon!
posted by taz at 10:10 AM on December 21, 2012 [10 favorites]

When I have a sore throat, drinking feels good, but sometimes water feels rough on my throat. I like those little flavored powder packets to add to water. Red fruit punch flavor, sometimes with vitamins added, feels a little smoother going down and is tasty, so it makes me want to drink more, with the bonus of keeping hydrated/less congested.
posted by shortyJBot at 10:30 AM on December 21, 2012

Oh and ice cream or popsicles or fudgesicles.
posted by shortyJBot at 10:30 AM on December 21, 2012

You've got lots of good advice now for your throat.

For helping you get over the cold, I use natural food ingredients that have antibiotic properties - garlic, ginger, and onion.

It's hard to eat those ingredients raw, but to get the most benefit you don't want them too cooked either. I steep the raw ingredients in soup; I often make chicken soup from scratch, but when I'm not feeling good I don't want to do all that work, so I will open a can of Campbell's chicken soup, get it to simmering, take it off the heat, and then put in a couple of fresh cloves of garlic, sliced, a tablespoon or so of diced ginger, and about half of a diced onion. Let the soup steep for about 5-10 minutes. I like the taste of all of those ingredients, so I eat all of it, but you could cut them into larger pieces and then pull them out before you eat the soup, you will still get the beneficial properties.
posted by vignettist at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2012

The theobromine in dark chocolate (must be DARK, not milk) works as a cough suppressant.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:51 AM on December 21, 2012

Absolutely do salt water gargle regularly. Also, if you can get hold of a saline sinus rinse (neti pot or NeilMed) it can cut the duration of your symptoms WAY down since it clears out the post-nasal drip that causes so many problems.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 10:57 AM on December 21, 2012

I got this! Honey mixed with cinnamon. It works and it also kills germs. I tried this last week and it helps. Also Throat Coat tea if your store sells it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:04 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Gypsy Cold Care* tea with honey and lemon.

(Despite creepy culturally appropriative name, grr---it's not a Rromani traditional remedy at all.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:20 AM on December 21, 2012

Just as a note for next time, it sounds highly likely you qualify for medical assistance, although you didn't mention having it. If you don't have it you should meet up with one of the free financial counselors they have at the hospital who can help you through the applications process.

Once you have some sort of medical coverage, you can get a primary care doctor. (I am assuming you do not have a primary care doctor because you mentioned going to the "hospital" for a cold) Once you have a primary care doctor, they can do things like call in prescriptions for you to the pharmacy at the grocery store so that you can get your medications covered.

I know at least in states where I have practiced, people on Medicaid or some variation on it can get prescriptions for over the counter medications covered (so, for example, you could get a script for ibuprofen or for cough syrup or something).

Anyway obviously it's too late for all that now, but I just wanted to mention it as something to put on the 'to do list' - it's a great thing to have in place when you get sick.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:24 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Boxed mac and cheese, slightly overcooked so it's soft. It's salty, so you'll be able to taste it despite having a cold, and it's smooth enough. Cheap!

Kozy Shack chocolate pudding. That brand specifically, if you have it where you are. It's often on sale, if you have a chance to shop around a few places.

Those two foods, plus scrambled eggs, are what I lived off when I had my tonsils taken out as an adult.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:31 PM on December 21, 2012

Cold Gatorade is soothing to drink and will keep you hydrated.

Ramen Noodles spiced up with a generous amount of cayenne pepper will make your nose run and loosen up the mucous in your chest. Or just put the cayenne in chicken broth if you'd rather.

Nthing salt water gargle and hot tea with honey and lemon.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:06 PM on December 21, 2012

Slippery Elm.
Hands down, the best thing ever for a sore or irritated throat. My husband worked as a stage manager for a while in a local theater and learned about S.E. from the actors - they've used it for years for their throats.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 5:46 PM on December 21, 2012

I know you said no cough drops, but a bag of Fisherman's Friend will run you a couple of bucks, and they are by far and away the greatest cough/throat drops of all time. They're pretty intense, but they really, really help. Sorry this doesn't exactly answer the question -- feel better!
posted by nosila at 9:05 PM on December 21, 2012

Peppermint tea has menthol in it -- which is the same active ingredient in many brands of cough drops.
posted by BlueJae at 9:59 PM on December 21, 2012

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