Healthy, Easy, Fast, Meal Ideas, Please - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 03-25-2006, 10:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a single parent until August and my kids are 5 and under. I have resorted, too many times, to processed foods and take out. I used to make everything from scratch, but that required time, and dh played with the kids while I cooked. I want to go back to making things from scratch, so I would really like ideas that are healthy, quick, and easy (is that asking too much, lol). Any ideas?

Emily SAHM to four unschoolers Olivia (9), Brian (7), Jack (6), and Liam (5)
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#2 of 14 Old 03-25-2006, 10:55 PM
 
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Make a big pot of brown rice at some point during the week. Then use it during the week for things like veggie stir-fry, bean burritos, brown rice/cheese/broccoli casserols, ect. If you need any specific recipes, let me know. Also baked potatoes are my friend when I have no time to cook. Bake or microwave some potatoes. They can be topped with beans, veggies, cheese, dressing, ect. I like to eat them with a side of frozen veggies and some baked beans (I like the junky ones in the can , but you could do better if you wanted to). Speaking of frozen veggies. I always have many bags of different mixes in my freezer. Then for every meal, it takes maybe 2-3 minutes to microwave and add some butter or salt and pepper to them. A cheap, easy, and healthy side dish. My last decent idea is soup. There are so many cheap and easy soups out there. Make huge pots at a time, freeze half if you have enough and eat the rest through out the week. Cheap, easy, and healthy. I also know some quick and easy pasta/bean dishes that are quick. Good luck.

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#3 of 14 Old 03-25-2006, 11:19 PM
 
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I make this really quick soup that always works in a pinch.

One jar of salsa
Two cans of black beans
One can of chicken broth

Dump the salsa in a pan and cook it on low for a few minutes. Meanwhile, rinse the beans really well and then dump them in. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, put half in the blender, blend it up and then dump back in the pan. If I have a bag of frozen vegetables then I throw them in, too.

I serve this with either bread or cheese quesadillas and if I have the energy, a salad.

I'm sure you'll get some other good suggestions.

A cookbook I really like is the Meal Makeover Cookbook. It has given me some really great ideas for improving things I already know how to make. You can find it here

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#4 of 14 Old 03-26-2006, 06:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the ideas, there have got to be more than this though!

Emily SAHM to four unschoolers Olivia (9), Brian (7), Jack (6), and Liam (5)
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#5 of 14 Old 03-26-2006, 07:04 PM
 
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Over the years my DH has worked all kinds of crazy hours and it has left me essentially a single mom most days. I find that by breaking up the meal prep - cutting up the veggies for the salad/meal in the am, making the rice, pasta, ect... before hand or putting together the casserole/meal so it is ready to cook during nap time really helped. That way, I wasn't spending an hour prepping and cooking when everyone wanted and needed my attention the most.

I just made this soup and it was fast (outside of cutting the veggies) and really yummy.

Ribollita Bread Soup

2 tsp olive oil
1 med onions, chopped
4 big cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
6c stock (chicken or veggie)
2c tomato sauce (I used crushed tom since I didnt have any sauce)
2- 15oz canellini beans, drain off the bean liquor
3c of day old "chewy" bread (italian, artisan, semolina, whatever you got) torn into bite size chunks... My 3 y/o helped me with this)
Top w/
1sm onion finely chopped
1c grated Parm-Reg cheese

Sauté the veggies in the olive oil w/ bay leaf until tender. Add the stock, tomato sauce and beans. Cover pot and bring to boil. Remove lid and stir in stale bread. Continue stirring. When soup becomes thick and bread is evenly distributed, adjust seasonings. Some ribollitas are so thick that the spoon will stand straight up in the soup. You adjust yours to your preference by reserving some bread, adding more water or stock. Remove bay leaf before serving. Top with raw onion, grated cheese and drizzle of olive oil. (My kids did without the oil and onion but it was none the less yummy)

Good luck making it through the next couple of months, mama.
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#6 of 14 Old 03-26-2006, 07:16 PM
 
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i made this 'breakfast pasta' this morning as a total experiment, it was sooooo yummy and would make a great anytime meal. just toss the following together with some olive oil.

cooked angel hair pasta
scrambled eggs
any veggies that you have on hand, sauteed in olive oil

i did a 'spicy southwest' version this morning with sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives and garlic, tossed it with the eggs and pasta with some cumin, cayenne pepper, red chili pepper, chili powder and salt to taste. it was delish!
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#7 of 14 Old 03-26-2006, 08:01 PM
 
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My kids are mac and cheese fiends but I hate the packaged stuff so i make my own and add veggies. This recipe is in the crockpot and comes out SO creamy even though there is no butter.
put the following in the crock pot-
1 package paste(16oz) cooked and drained
2 cans evaporated lowfat milk
2 cups shredded cheese
salt and pepper
stir and cook on low for an hour.
I add steamed veggies and even beans sometimes at the end and it is wonderful.
You can use regular milk if you prefer
I like this way because both boiling the pasta and cooking in the crock pot take little attention so i can do other things.
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#8 of 14 Old 03-26-2006, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, these sound so great Mmm, they are making me hungry.

Keep em coming!

Emily SAHM to four unschoolers Olivia (9), Brian (7), Jack (6), and Liam (5)
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#9 of 14 Old 03-26-2006, 10:09 PM
 
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My son is a mac'n'cheese fiend as well, but fortunately his definition of mac'n'cheese (Rocky Cheese) is pretty broad. Here's my super-quick standby: cook some maceroni, and while that's cooking, nuke some frozen spinach (or broccoli, or peas, or whatever). Put a little butter and plain yogurt in a big bowl, add the hot veggies, the hot drained pasta. Throw on some grated cheese (I like spinach with parmesan, but any cheese with whatever veggie is good). Sometimes I'll also heat a can of beans and throw it in as well. Mix it all together.

I'm also a big fan of cooking a batch of brown rice, and using it in different ways. I love my crock pot, and chicken soup from that can keep us going for several meals: one day add some pasta and frozen peas, the next day add brown rice and broccoli, etc. I just take the meat off the bone right away, and then use the broth and chicken as a base for everything.

I also like to freeze some of a soup, or spaghetti sauce (I have to make my own, I dislike the canned stuff), and then pull it out, so I don't get sick of any one thing. Sometimes I'll get ambitious and do pizza--parbake the crusts, and freeze them. Then I just pull them out, smear on a little sauce, put on some cheese, bake it.

We do a lot of veggies (cukes, zucchini, and carrots) and "dip" (mainly plain yogurt). Crackers, mustard, and cheese (ok, probably most kids wouldn't go for that, but my boy's a weirdo ). Grilled cheese sandwiches. We're big on frozen vegetables (with my schedule, it's frozen vegetables or no vegetables, sometimes).
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#10 of 14 Old 03-26-2006, 11:13 PM
 
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Homemade lasagna is a big time saver for me. I make up two big pans of it at a time, and each pan will last us two dinners and a lunch. I freeze one pan, and my family loves it so much they don't mind eating it a few times in one week.
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#11 of 14 Old 03-27-2006, 01:55 AM
 
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With leftover (or jarred) pasta sauce, whole grain english muffins and some shredded cheese you can make mini pizzas. Top with whatever you like or have on hand.
Broil for a few minutes, even in the toaster oven. This is very quick!

A quick pasta dish is:

saute some chopped onions and garlic
add a can of cannelini beans to the pan,
some vegetable (or whatever) stock (about a cup?)
and some Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
cook for a few minutes until tender
mash up about half using either a hand blender or potato masher
stir and see if it needs a bit more stock
add some olive oil when you take it off the heat and adjust the seasonings
I like to add some fresh baby spinach at the end too, so it doesn't over cook. If it is for grown ups or adventurous kiddos, I cook it with red pepper flakes for extra zing.

Then serve over pasta.

Sorry I don't have exact measurements, I cook by my eye and my taste buds!
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#12 of 14 Old 03-27-2006, 09:39 AM
 
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Another tip- Plan out a weekly menu. I can't shop effectively at the market without it. I can take inventory in my cupboard, make a list of what I need and shop for exactly what I need to make a week's worth of meals. Helps cut down on impulse buying too. (Which I can be guilty of... "Ohhhh this is 3/$5? Gotta have some." what ever it may be. I buy all but the produce that might spoil waiting to be used or fresh breads from the bakery (those I buy on the day I plan to use them).
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#13 of 14 Old 03-27-2006, 10:00 AM
 
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Bean burritoes - kids love bean burritoes
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#14 of 14 Old 03-27-2006, 10:51 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emmama
I want to go back to making things from scratch, so I would really like ideas that are healthy, quick, and easy (is that asking too much, lol). Any ideas?
In the crock pot, cut up veggies (carrots / potato / sweet potato) and add some broth. Last hour add cous cous or rice (or I just make it on the side it comes out better). You can also add in (at the start) tofu or chicken or beef.

I make a huge batch of tomato sauce (tomato puree, water, mushrooms, onions, crushed tomatos, flavorings) and freeze it in quart sized containers. Grab a container and mix with cheese & pasta, or meat for meatsause, or spread on pita and cover with cheeze for homemade pizza. Mix with noodles and cottage cheese and bake for an easy "it's not really lasana but it's good" dish.

We do a lot of one pot meals. Chicken with pasta and soup bakes w/ veggies (casoroles basically). Tuna casorole with cream of mushroom and cheese and veggies mixed in. Chicken spagetti is a favorite. Take any leftover chicken and a quart of the tomato sause. Reheat the sause and mix the chicken in. serve mixed with pasta.

Chicken breasts cook well in the crock pot with a lot of liquid (almost any type of liquid). Serve with veggie and starch.

Sandwiches!! We have a grilled cheese maker. Hot sandwiches add a variety (grilled cheese & tuna is a favorite here).

Tuna patties. One can of tuna, one egg, breadcrumbs (can't say exactly how much, 1/4 - 1/2 a cup). Fry (or you could bake, my kids are underweight so I fry when possible )

HTH

Rach

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