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#1 of 8 Old 03-13-2008, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi, where do I start? I need help. Everything about food overwhelms me. I dont know how to plan meals, which food groups should be in each meal, what to cook, ...the list goes on. It really stresses me out. We just eat toast, cereals, microwave meals sometimes, fruit. Whats wrong with me? Am I just lazy? My mom cooked when I was a child, but she didnt teach me anything to do with the I never learnt, it doesnt interest me at all and I dont find I ever enjoy helping out in the kitchen when we eat at a relatives, but I HAVE to provide food for my child and myself. Where do I start? please HELP What are we supposed to be eating at meal times etc?: I think im missing a gene.
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#2 of 8 Old 03-13-2008, 12:14 PM
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Don't worry- My mom didn't teach me how to cook either. Start small, so you don't overwhelm yourself and burn out. It's easier to add 1 thing each month then to start out doing everything at once.

I tend to think of it as needing color- we have 1 brown (meat), 1 green (green beans), 1 white (rice) at the meal.

Frozen green beans are easy, and cheap and are more nutritious than canned, or you can buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies. To cook them: put about 1 inch of water in a pan, pour in how many veggies you think you will eat (1/2 cup or 1 cup) bring to boil, turn off burner and when it stops boiling the veggies are ready.
It's ok to eat mac & cheese, with hotdogs and green beans.
Or Hamburger helper and green beans, etc.

You don't have to start cooking amazing meals right away.
You don't have to meal plan every day.
It's not for everyone, so don't beat yourself up for it. If you think you would really like it- that's great, but start small- like planning 2 meals each week.

Breakfast can be toast or cereal (brown), milk (white) and fruit (bright color).
Lunch can be a sandwich: peanut butter (brown) on bread (white) and then some carrots or apples on the side (bright color).

I hope that helps.
When I started Mac and Cheese w/ chopped ham in it was my specialty. That was 13 years ago... and I still make it now and then!

You can look through my blog and get some pretty easy recipes. But just start with 1 new thing at a time. It could be adding a veggie to your meals this month, next month, learn how to make 1 rice or pasta dish and plan to eat it one time each week, month #3, learn to make a new sandwich- like tuna salad, etc.
Think easy. If you do 1 thing each month, you will be eating much better in a year- that's ok. You don't have to eat like a health nut by next week. :-)
Good luck!

Rachel, wife to Brian, mother of 5. Lover of birth.
Blog on profile.
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#3 of 8 Old 03-14-2008, 10:30 PM
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First, what to eat? Divide your plate into quarters. A full HALF of your plate should be covered by fruit or vegetables (this includes salad) at every meal or snack. Next, a quarter of your plate should be a starch (potato, brown rice, whole grain role, etc). Lastly, the final quarter should be a protein. Getting yourself a few basic books on nutrition wouldn't be a bad idea. Basically eating foods as close to their natural state as possible is a wonderful idea. This is called eating a "whole foods" diet. So, brown rice, whole grain bread (instead of white), lightly steamed veggies (first fresh and local, then frozen, then canned in order of most nutrative value...check out the farmer's market on the weekends in your area--it's a favorite family outing for us on Saturdays!), etc. Eating organic is safer and more nutritious if you can afford it (not having pesticides causes the plants to have to create more phytochemicals to protect themselves, which causes them to be more nutritious when you eat them).

Next, how to cook it? Two books are essential. The first is called "The Kitchen Companion" by Polly Clingerman. It is like the glossary that the back of all the cookbooks don't have! What does it mean to saute? Polly gives you the definition. How to store beef in the fridge? Polly tells you that, too. Anything you need to know about how to keep a kitchen or what something means, it's in this book.

The next book is essential to learning to cook in general, but also learning to be a great cook, even despite yourself! It's called "The New Best Recipe" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. They don't just tell you the recipe, they tell you the science behind HOW THEY GOT TO THAT RECIPE. The nice thing about it is that you learn how and why things WORK in recipes, and you can bring that to the rest of what you are cooking!

How to figure out what to cook? Meal planning tutorial. Look under "How do you figure out how to meal plan" in this forum. My meal planning strategy is within the first five posts and has worked well for me and for a bunch of other people as well.

You CAN do it!

Mama to two awesome kids. Wife to a wonderful, attached, loving husband. I love my job-- I'm a Midwife, Doula and Childbirth Educator, Classes forming now!

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#4 of 8 Old 03-16-2008, 06:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Just wondering, how come everyone knows what should be on their plate? Like half should be veggies, quarter should be protein and another quarter starch/ do you know this? Are there nutritional food guidlines anywhere about it? I remember in school vaguely...we did about a food pyramid, which is what the dietitians working for the government say you should eat right?

If I aim to do 1 starch/carbohydrate, 1 protein and 1 type of veg at dinner mealtimes, I think I'll be able to handle it. All seems so overwhelming when you aren't used to cooking. Yesterday we just had toast AGAIN! And today we are eating a proper roast dinner at a relatives house

Im going to do the grocery shopping tomorrow, and still have no clue what meal time foods to buy.....I just had an idea it might help me if I make a list of all the different starch/carb type foods, all the protein foods, and all the veggie foods that we like, and then choose one from each list to make up a meal...that sort of thing if ykwim?
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#5 of 8 Old 03-16-2008, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by young_mama08 View Post
I just had an idea it might help me if I make a list of all the different starch/carb type foods, all the protein foods, and all the veggie foods that we like, and then choose one from each list to make up a meal...that sort of thing if ykwim?
That would be a wonderful start!

Mama to (DS 7) and (DD 5), wife to DH

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#6 of 8 Old 03-25-2008, 06:31 PM
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Also remember that dinner don't have to be a seven course meal! Here's a few easy ideas to get you started:

Pasta (fast dinner):
whole wheat pasta (starch)
a chunky tomato sauce with onions, peppers, etc (fruits and veggies)
ground beef or chicken (protein)
shredded or Parmesan cheese (optional topping)

Burritos (fun for kids to put together)
mashed black beans, ground beef or shredded chicken (protein)
whole wheat tortillas (starch)
lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc (fruits and veggies)
a dollop of sour cream or shredded cheese for added flavor

Breakfast omelet:
Diced tomatoes, onions, pepper or any other veggie
eggs (of course! )
shredded cheese and or ham
toast with butter

Burgers for lunch
beef or turkey patty, or chicken fillet
tomato and lettuce
broccoli, carrot and celery sticks with dipping sauce (sour cream or yogurt with herbs for a ranch like dressing)

Breakfast in a hurry:
hard boiled eggs
a citrus fruit or berries (berries can be mixed in with oatmeal )

Pita Pizza (Super easy! Ready in ten minutes)
pita bread
pizza sauce (you can make it with some tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and pizza seasoning herbs)
toppings of your choice (ham, ground beef, chicken, diced veggies, etc)

These are some recipes I use, that don't take a lot of time or effort to make, nor any real special ingredients.

A good addition to your kitchen would be a crockpot. It's super easy to make chili and soup. You can also cook a whole chicken (or two) in it, shred it to use for your recipes, and keep the broth for making chicken soup. You can also cook pork ribs in it for BBQ ribs, a pot roast and save the drippings for a tasty gravy over your mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes (or even brown rice). And your food won't burn, which is a plus.

You can also brown lots of ground beef, divide and freeze for later for a quick meal (like burritos or pasta). You can do the same with the shredded chicken from your crockpot. You can also form your own burgers and freeze for later. Cut up lots of celery, carrots or other fruits and veggies to serve them up as a quick snack. Chop tomatoes, peppers and onions to make a salsa for burritos, or to mix in with sauce for pastas or pizza. Pick a day or two out of the week to do food preparation, so that the rest of the week, you can just toss something in the fridge in the morning to thaw.

Equuskia in with Nodtveidt DD1 : DD2 :
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#7 of 8 Old 03-26-2008, 04:49 PM
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Dividing your plate into quarters and then doing half vegetables, a quarter starch and a quarter protein is officially called The Idaho Plate Method, lol. It's the diet recommended to most diabetics and the diet we should all be following! Of course, it gets a little more complicated when you do one dish meals like casseroles and stir fries but you'll get the hang of it!
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#8 of 8 Old 03-28-2008, 08:37 PM
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I have a subscription to Cooking Light and I love it! Even if I don't use the exact recipes it gives me an idea to go with. I almost always find 4 recipes out of each issue that we integrate into our monthly meal planning over and over again.

Most of the time their recipes are simple and have all the food groups you need.

So my advice is to maybe get a subscription to a cooking magazine you like or find a couple of good cookbooks. The Moosewood Cookbooks are really good also.
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